OK, this guy isn’t actually a doctor. In fact, I don’t think he has any degrees at all. But oh man, is he brilliant. I’m talking about Gary Vaynerchuk of Vaynermedia. I had the pleasure of seeing Gary speak (again) at a great event last week in Toronto called The Archangel Summit. It was a powerful day of awesome speakers who all had a story to tell.
But the speaker who resonated with me the most was Gary. He’s The Real Deal. Admittedly, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. His language isn’t the most polished, but he speaks the truth, and I have an immense amount of respect for that. He gets up and talks – he doesn’t recite, he doesn’t read off a teleprompter, it’s not a canned blah, blah, blah, he just talks about the topic at hand and responds to questions in a candid, direct way. He makes it look easy. Trust me, it’s not.
One of his most appealing traits is humility. Now, he’s no saint, there is an ego there, and he’s quite frank about tooting his own horn. But he’s equally frank about what he’s not great at. Like reading. Like academics. Even to this day, and he discusses it without shame. He’s very matter of fact about it.
But here’s the thing he said that made me reach for my pen and start scribbling:
Dwelling is a disease.
Complaining is a disease.
I would add that they are contagious diseases. It festers. It grows. It smells bad and it makes people rot from the inside out. My private practice used to be based in a family health practice, and for years before that I worked in hospital. What I noticed was that peoples' illnesses amplified who they really were. Whether it was in the emergency department, the surgical ward, or the oncology suite, true colors were revealed.
If they were positive, optimistic people prior to diagnosis, they would usually take the illness in stride, hanging on to hope and continuing to express gratitude. If they were negative, belligerent goats before becoming unwell, they’d rant and complain and be even more miserable afterwards. The most gratitude I've been surrounded with is while at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Kids, a place of immense courage and bravery. Complaining is an exhausting activity for the complainer and for anyone within earshot. Fortunately there are two painless cures that are guaranteed.
Cure Number One: Take Action
Don’t like the government? Make sure you vote. Don’t like how things are run at your child’s school? Get involved in parent council. Don’t like the litter? Pick it up. Don’t like your life? Change it. In fairness, that last one, changing your life may not actually be painless. It may take a ton of work. But if we bury ourselves in complaints instead of action, nothing will change.
Cure Number Two: Replace Complaints with Gratitude
Don’t like the government? Be grateful you’re not living in a dictatorship. Don’t like how things are run at your child’s school? Remember your child gets to attend school. For FREE. Don’t like litter? Neither do the people living in the favela’s of Brazil or the families who subsist off the garbage dumps in India. Don’t like your life? Look at what you have to be grateful for. Beginning with the fact that you’re breathing. Probably unassisted. If you can read, have clean water, and a place to live, you’re ahead of the game.
This isn’t about guilt or “someone else has it worse”. It’s about grabbing onto life with both hands and making it count. Don’t be one of the masses who get caught in the rat race or the hamster wheel, sleep walking through life, failing to notice beauty and possibility. This is your wake up call. This is your call to action. This is your reminder that each day is a gift. Cure the complaining. You can make a huge contribution.