I am attending a wedding this weekend. Clarko is marrying Liz. I’ve driven a long way with my son Tyler. Probably a tad over 1000 Kms. Marnie, my wife, flew up. Being a teacher she doesn’t have a great deal of flexibility to take time off so we agreed that she should fly in. The moment I arrived I headed straight to the airport to pick her up. From there we went to our hotel. It was a cheap hotel that we booked to save money. We were at reception and Tyler drew my attention to an enormous cockroach scurrying along the floor. In the background a live band blared loudly. Luckily my wife and I are deaf, the band was unlikely to keep us awake. Although Tyler would not have the same luxury.
We got to our room and it was a tiny box like thing. Three single beds were crammed into it. Somehow a table and three chairs also had been forced into the room. Literally, there was no room to put our bags except at the door. To get in and out of the room we had to tread over the bags. No matter, its a room and all we wanted was to sleep, it had been a long day. I awoke at 3.30 am scratching from multiple mosquito bites. I laughed because, you see, I am determined to complain less.
I have decided I must complain less because officially it is bad for you. Apparently complaining for half an hour everyday is damaging to your health. If you complain or are the subject of a complaint this can apparently lead to neurons being peeled back from your Hippocampus. This causes stress and impacts negatively on a persons ability to function and problem solve. Long term the stress could even lead to earlier death. This is particularly so if you are complaining about the same thing over and over again. Apparently when you complain about the same thing constantly, each time you complain makes you 10 to 12 times more aggravated. Complaining is clearly a bad thing. ( Source: http://www.fastcompany.com/3040672/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/why-complaining-may-be-dangerous-to-your-health )
Of course there are ways to complain that lessen your stress. Central to this is being able to complain to the source and achieve an effective outcome, which is easier said than done. Nevertheless I am worried. You see, I have built a career on complaining and often to no outcome. Being deaf and a disability advocate means that complaining is central to everything that I do. No captions on TV, complain. No interpreters at the doctor, complain. High unemployment among people with a disability, complain. Lack of access to everything, complain. AGAIN AND AGAIN and often unsuccessfully.
Some people call it advocating but the reality is it is involves complaining. I mean in Australia our whole disability legislation is based on making complaints. If people with a disability are discriminated against the law does not protect them unless they complain. There are no fines or punishment for disability discrimination. Rather, if a person feels that they have been discriminated against they have to lodge a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission or their State Equal Opportunity body.
Making an official complaint this way is not a quick fix. It’s a long drawn out process. Often before making a complaint to a Human Rights body a person with a disability may have spent several weeks complaining directly to an organisation. Say, for example, a guy in a wheelchair can’t get into an accessible toilet because it’s used as a store room. He will first complain to the management of the building. He will get a response, either positive or negative. If positive the toilet will be cleaned out of its rubbish and be made accessible. If negative then the next step will be to complain to the Human Rights body and try to have it resolved. Often times a complaint isn’t resolved this way. Hell, the complainant isn’t even compelled to respond to the complaint. In which case the only other avenue is to take the complaint to court. Stressful much?
Everyday, all over Australia, people with a disability are complaining about the same things over and over simply to live life on equal terms as their non-disabled folk. Either they complain or they put up and shut up. Put up with not being able to work cos we have no access to supports. Put up with not being able to go to the movies cos there are no captions or buildings are not accessible. Put up with being stuck at home because public transport doesn’t cater for wheelchairs. Put up with poverty cos we cant earn a decent living. So they complain again and again about the same old things like a broken record – And yes it’s stressful and tiresome but what other option do they have?
And each time they complain, if the research is to be believed, they get aggravated 10 to 12 times more than the last time. This cannot be good for their blood pressure, nor their ongoing health. SO I have decreed that I will complain less. After a life and career that has dictated that I must complain constantly and often about the same things over and over it’s time to smell the roses.
And smell the roses I must because if the research is to be believed I am heading for an early grave. Politicians will no longer irk me. Bad referees at the football? Pffffffft, who cares. Burnt the toast? Make some more. Boys messed up the house? No matter, my wife is far more scary than me anyway.
Complaining is oft necessary but it is bad for us so I am going to look more on the bright side of life when I can …..
Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…
…always look on the bright side