Don’t you love the library?
A while ago I picked up A Complaint Free World because of its great title and now I’m a good example of what happens to you when you start reading self-help books. I turned into my own Guinea pig and depending on how well I’m going with my challenge there is definitely a little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde going on.
Why is it so hard to stop complaining? At least for me, it is deeply embedded in my culture and I know I’m not the only one. Complaining unites people. Just like kitsch, it wraps you in a nice cozy blanket of pure comfort.
This may not be the greatest example but when you are in Ireland for an extended period of time you will find yourself talking about the weather. Every day. This may seem a bit odd to foreigners because it really does rain pretty much every day anyways but these conversations are an important part of everyday life. If your neighbor shares his views on the weather you will stop and listen. Every day. Most likely, you will join, too. Complaining turns into sharing turns into bonding and one could argue in many cultures complaining serves as a means to really bring people together.
People like to complain to express grief, pain and any other form of feeling discontent because they derive great social and psychological benefits from it.
In chapter three author Will Bowen has identified five reasons for complaining:
Excuse poor performance
We’re talking personal development here, so this does work as an acronym: GRIPE.
Pretty brilliant, isn’t it?
Today I am on day one of my no complaining challenge. Yesterday it was a proud day four and guess what happened?
That’s right! Driving.
[If you insist on going 10 km/h under the speed limit (bite my tongue) in the overtaking lane (bite tongue, bite) okay BUT then driving 20 km/h over the speed limit through the construction site where real people are working? COME ON! You are not the only person on this planet… and out of my mouth it poured and poured and poured and was dressed up with some pretty colorful language.]
I cannot figure out my driving issues. I couldn’t park a car well if my life depended on it; let’s not talk about the driving bit itself… When I am complaining about other drivers I am not really saying, you’re driving sucks and mine is much better because it’s really, really not.
I might (have to) turn this into a no driving for 21 days challenge. Sigh.
Artwork based on J. Howard Miller's We can do it, 1943.