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The other day I sat around watching kung fu movies, eating tuna sandwiches on soft white buns and feeling sorry for myself. When I finally went outside for some fresh air, it began to drizzle. As I sat there on the patio getting damp, I started to grumble which is like being grumpy only with more turbulence.

That’s when I noticed how much I was whining was going on inside my head. It didn’t have the thrusting lower lip of a good pout or the awesome power of a full fledged temper tantrum. A whine is the paper cut of bad moods. It’s the squeaky chalk on the black board of life.

I must have some justification for this whining, I thought. After all, equanimity might be my middle name. Did I not like horses?  Were not my childhood heroes all cowboys? (Whinny – whine, do you see the unspoken but nevertheless obvious connection?)

So I reflected on the past week –

¨      The pinched nerve in my back has taken three painful weeks to unkink

¨      I received a notice that my medical insurance was going up

¨      I called to adjust my auto insurance and when they discovered my zip code was incorrect, my premium went up $200/year

¨      Mikey the Beta Fish has been not eating and is now swimming sideways

¨      The only chocolate in the house is from last Halloween

¨      My jeans are too tight

Faced with these facts I readily saw that my whining was not only justified but with a little more reflection just might graduate to full-fledged sniveling which means spinning downward with a drippy nose.

Yes, in spite of what a great person I was, life was poking me with the sharp end of the stick. I didn’t deserve this, I wailed. I should have everything I want when I want it. Waaa!

This is good, a small part of my head said – let’s pull out all the stops and really wallow in the self-pity – which is like feeling sorry for somebody but even better because it’s me! That’s when I noticed how good it felt to feel bad. What was this about! The more I whined, the more I wanted to whine, the more things I found to whine about.

It was like being on a bad drug. These negative thoughts were addicting.  When I ran out of things to complain about, a certain feeling of emptiness was present. After all, didn’t complaining bolster my image of self-importance – even if I was unhappy?

by Mary Engelbreit

Hmmm. Then I remembered a great picture by Mary Englebreit that showed a little girl, standing with hands on hips, staring at the viewer and saying, “Snap out of it!” So I did! I made another tuna sandwich, sent Mikey some encouraging thoughts on my way to the couch and joined Sweetie Pie for Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai.” It don’t get much better than this!

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