It was dinnertime at my house and like every night, it had begun. As the meals landed in front of their intended recipients, the cries of injustice began. My 8-year-old, Noah, was complaining that it wasn’t fair that his 11-year-old sister, Abby, went back and got the final spoonful of rice from the stove. Abby was complaining that it wasn’t fair that Noah got his favorite meal twice in the same week. And Aaron, their 6-year-old brother, complained that it wasn’t fair that he had to eat all of his dinner before he could be excused from the table. Eventually dinner came to an end and the cries died down. Unfortunately, it just so happened that on that particular night we had ice cream in the freezer. Upon its discovery, the finger-pointing resumed its frantic pace. “Why does she get 2 scoops of ice cream?” “How come he gets the chocolate syrup first?” Etc…
Hearing “it’s not fair,” is unfortunately a normal occurrence when you are surrounded by human beings under the age of 18. While I wish I could say that the only time I ever hear “it’s not fair” is at home with my kids, I cannot. We can all attest to hearing grown adults utter those painful words. From complaining about not getting a promotion at work to lamenting about how life has turned out, “it’s not fair” is a debilitating disease that if allowed to creep into one’s mind, it weakens resolve, sours the spirit and poisons one’s attitude.
This month, we are going to take on this self-limiting dysfunction. Taking an “it’s not fair” attitude holds us back from the life we could have. Whether it’s you that needs to change or it’s someone else, getting past “it’s not fair” unlocks two treasures everyone wants in life: opportunity and empowerment. It allows one to write his or her own personal scorecard for what’s important versus complaining about the one he or she is dealt. Before we go too far down this path, it’s only fair (no pun intended…OK, maybe a small one) that I share my own personal philosophy on this particular dysfunction:
So you have a job you don’t like? Leave it. You are unhappy with the path you chose? Change it. I have a mantra in my house that my kids know all too well. “Decision-makers pay.” If one of them begins to complain about dinner, I announce to the table that that particular offspring of mine has decided to pay for dinner. It is a not-so-subtle reminder to them that complaining cannot be served up without a side of action and ownership. They have to choose: stop complaining or change the meal any way they like by forking over the cash.
The choice for us this month is simple:
Accept and appreciate what we have or take action to change it. Either path is healthy and empowering. Complaining about life’s unfairness is not an option.
Trust me, there is plenty of ice cream for everyone.