Turn that Frown Upside Down! (Impressions from Cambodia)

“Pessimism never won any battle.”-Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Complaining and blurting out unconstructive remarks to yourself and/or others has never been and will never be a good thing. Funny thing is, we do so much of it!



Why do we complain and seem to so often be pessimists? I think it must make us feel better to complain about our individual and collective problems to others. After all, we all want to be validated, understood, and loved; therefore, it makes sense that we wish for others to know our struggles and pain.

My world view has changed a little bit recently, however. After arriving home from Cambodia, I was blown away at the difference in lifestyles. Here in America, we have large homes, grass and spacious yards, designer clothes, drinkable running water from the faucet, high-end fashion malls and consumer goods galore, opportunities for high-paying employment, and all of our needs and most of our wants are already satisfied. One of my friends put it this way:

America is a country where teenagers go to school with their i-pods and cell phones. Where kids barely eighteen are inheriting millions, where kids are rich enough to perform plastic surgery. The norm is to see families where each member has their car. Some homes have HDTV in every room in the house. Some families have $40,000 sofas in their living rooms. Yet we still manage to whine and complain the way we do. Instead of complaining we need to thank God for the good things around us.

Thank God for a country where someone born in the lower class can work his way up to middle or upper class. This is the only country where I know of that that can happen with some ambition and old-fashioned work. Thank God for bathrooms. Where I’m from, there are places where people still have to bathe and toilet in the nearest creek. Thank God for the amount of food we throw away. I have two little ones that feel if what they’re eating does not taste 100% good to them then they get to throw it in the garbage. They don’t know there are others their age that would be more than happy to consume what they consider garbage.

The American way is in stark contrast to what I found in Cambodia. It’s a different story there. They don’t have all that stuff. But they don’t complain, either. They don’t “expect” anything from the developed world. They are a happy, genuine people. They are confident and capable. The smiles I saw on their faces—even from some of the most poor (financially, not spiritually or emotionally) families and individuals—seemed to radiate a joy and fulfillment that is very hard to find in the fast-paced commotion of the rat race elsewhere. The Cambodian people have gone through one of the toughest centuries imaginable—everything from extreme political agendas, economic ruin, and even genocide. Nonetheless, they remain strong. They remain valiant and resilient. I was blown away with the sense of optimism and a certain upbeat charm that radiates throughout the country by means of its people. I was reminded of Viktor E. Frankl’s famous notion:

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way, to choose one’s own level of happiness.

Granted, back here in America, we’re in what many have called the worse economic era since the Great Depression. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and the dollar has plummeted. Many people are in an uproar regarding recent political decisions made in Washington. Times are indeed tough. To feel frustration and concern may actually be warranted.

Nonetheless, will that frown ever get us anywhere? I don’t think so.

Complaining always has negative effects on both the mind and the body. Every time we repeat something negative, we gain a stronger tendency to believe it. Eventually, it becomes our reality. The same goes for something positive that we repeat all of the time. One day, we’ll find ourselves reaching our goals because each time we say it to ourselves it becomes more and more of a reality.

Moreover, have you ever met someone that complains a whole awful lot, and yet you’re still always craving to spend time with them? I doubt that. It’s not pleasing. In contrast to a daily frowner, have you ever met someone who lifts you up, who speaks highly of others, who points out the beautiful things in life? Yeah, this is the person we like to be around. That’s probably why I am so drawn to my brothers and sisters in Cambodia. They exemplify that latter example.

What I have experienced recently with some travel is simply an impression that I cannot seem to forget. It has made me watch my thoughts and spoken words a little more closely. “Be an optimist,” I remind myself. “Turn your frown upside down,” I repeat.

Instead of complaining, act! Exert energy for the cause you’re most passionate about. Show off your pearly whites for the world to see. You will be better for it. All those around you will be better for it.

My friend was quoted from the following article: http://ezinearticles.com/?Why-Do-We-Complain?&id=1520164


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