I made it through 21 days of no complaining. I think.
Now, what is the deal with complaining?
With all the chemicals in your brain, complaining makes you happy and is pretty addictive. Complaining can lead to short term benefits, such as getting attention or sympathy and is also a great form of bonding but at the end of the day it is a solution-free approach to dealing with your problems. If you dwell on your complaints, they develop a life of their own. We grant them space and they manifest themselves in our brains as truth.
Author and coach Will Bowen argues in A Complaint Free World that focusing on negativity does not leave much space for positivity. He believes, once people stop complaining they are going to be happier, healthier and a lot more productive. Furthermore, the newly adapted positivity will also benefit the people around you. 21 days is what it takes to break your habits.
No complaining takes account of all forms of expressing discontent verbally, including sarcasm, negative self-talk, gossiping and judging others. In the first stage, you will not only realize how often you complain without even noticing, you will also be surprised which kind of complaining is your vice. I thought sarcasm would be my biggest challenge but it was driving… Over time it will get easier.
If I can do it, you can do it!
The Key to No Complaining
Attitude and Gratitude
Turns out, in order not to complain you have to make a lot of little changes. For example, I started to avoid a certain grocery store that just drives me bonkers and am going a lot more to the little shops around. When I have cold feet I get up and put on some socks, just skipping the complaining step. It’s okay to run 10 minutes late because you were caught up in playing tea party. Not to forget, a few people that are very dear to me are back in my life and I am very grateful for that. Excuse my Pinterest wisdom, I am doing a lot more of what makes me happy.
Will Bowen has dedicated an entire chapter to complaining and relationships. If you’re not into Self-Help books, this chapter is still really worth reading. Chances are there might be some relationships in your life that could do with a bit of polishing.
People have different reasons for complaining. Some friendships would not exist if it wasn’t for constant complaining about other people, things and stuff. Bowen suggest relationships are measured by the amount of complaining, nagging and criticizing that occurs. While complaining may lead to short-term benefits, long-term complaining can warp and weaken a relationship to the point where it simply devolves.
Just recently I have realized that there are situations, in which nothing you say or do or don’t say or don’t do will make any difference to the outcome. This equation is simple; either you let this eat you up or you find a way to let go and move on.
Life will throw people or situations at you that are challenging. No matter how hard or traumatic an experience is, it always carries the seeds for a new beginning. It is completely up to you how you deal with failure, illness, injustice, trauma or whatever ticks you off.
To the mean secretary that bullies an entire office, the creepy neighbor that dissects your garbage, or simply a really negative person, you are totally replaceable. Please, do not take it so damn personally because once you are gone, there are plenty of people next in the line of fire.
A Complaint Free World really teaches you to think before you talk. I am guilty of stream of consciousness talking and really needed a lesson in that. If keeping your mouth shut is not an option, watch your words. You will be surprised how constructively you can voice an issue when you have to pay attention to your language. According to Will Bowen only the spoken complaints count so you are still allowed to rage and rant in your head but interestingly enough, you just stop doing that.
You will find a great post on proactive language at the wonderful patchworkrainbows.
Make it public
Make your shame public. The fear of public humiliation will help you through.
I did not finish the no complaining challenge in record time. I read the book here and there and you start to notice your complaining. I snoozed through some of those days but when you feel like a deflated balloon you could also complain about that. (Try not to get salmonella poisioning. Ever.) This has solved my driving issues though. I feel a bit like I’m cheating.
I’m not saying I will never ever complain but not complaining does really make me feel calmer. If 21 consecutive days of no complaining is not your thing, pay attention to your complaining for a week and you will be baffled.
Maybe I should spread this out over 120 pages and it would make a nice little self-help book?
Who wants to give it a go?