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Stop Complaining. Start Doing.

by Live Better

Complaining is 100% avoidable – we have to open our own mouth to waste our own time, headspace, and energy to make a negative comment. Let that sink in for a minute - have you considered we have control over this?

It’s also addictive and contagious; everyone around you hears and absorbs that message. They in turn deliver it to someone else.

Let’s stop this runaway train.

I’m not talking about giving constructive criticism nor am I suggesting stopping complaining is easy; it’s been so engrained in our psyche and language that it’s nearly impossible to reverse its effect. It is, however, a bad habit, which can be improved, and it takes a concerted effort to identify when and where you complain in order to fix our response to things we identify as negative.

Life doesn’t happen to you; it happens around you…and you simply respond to it.

We can choose to be positive or negative. If you’re already thinking “best day ever,” you’re winning. Winning means taking the high road, being positive, finding a solution, growth mindset over fixed mindset, and getting after life. Instead of wasting your breath on complaining, immediately move your energy and thought process to something productive.

The faster you can choose to be positive, the faster you get over adversity in life.

A passive, negative reaction leading you to sit on the sidelines and critique rather than an active, positive reaction leading you to find a solution is the most egregious form of laziness there is. Complaining feels good, and people like and seek comfort on their high horse.

My favorite (read: least favorite) anecdote is gossip in a group setting. It solves nothing, it isn’t helpful (it’s hurtful), and shapes the perception of people that may not even be involved in the situation. Complaining about people is avoidable; we’re wasting time talking about “them” when we could be working on “us.”

My second favorite (read: second least favorite) form of complaining is whining about things that are either “free” or that you didn’t earn. If someone does you a favor, and you either fail to use your manners or complain about the result, do it yourself next time.

We complain about our lack of sleep, how it's "monday again," it's "back to reality" after vacation, the food isn't good, or we "just don't feel like it today." There are good days and bad days, but we always can control our emotional response. We can also control our physical follow-up reaction.

Nobody owes you anything; the minute you can start taking ownership over doing the things you need to do to live the life you want to live, instead of waiting for them to fall in your lap, the faster you get to the goal line.

So what can we do to stop the bleeding?

Here are a few practical tips on controlling your complaints:

  1. Take note of the things you complain about. Is it traffic that makes you mad? Is the toilet seat being left up? Make a “Note” in your iPhone and consult how many entries you make per day. Recognize the patterns, and actively create a better default response to a bad situation. For instance, if the elevator is slow say, “Good, I get to take the stairs.”

  2. If you catch yourself complaining, immediately offer an audiblesolution or practice gratitude. For instance, if the doctor is running behind you might say, “Wow, this is so annoying that this is taking 30 extra minutes to be seen…(you realize your complaint)….but I was prepared for this and brought my book. I’m happy I get to read a few extra pages.” This sounds trivial, but it’s incredibly effective in turning negative situations into opportunities. Say the solution out loud.

  3. Tell your friends, family, and co-workers you’re trying to complain less. This serves two purposes. First, you are now accountable to people who will be listening for you to complain and will remind you when you slip up. Second, other people will want to complain less around you because they don’t want to feel judged when they complain. Social pressure is extremely powerful.

  4. Take the 21-Day Complaint Free Challenge. Don’t complain for 21 days in a row. If you do, start over. The original experiment was started by wearing a wristband on one hand for each day passed without a complaint; it gets switched to the other upon failure and the challenge starts again. Note: this is really difficult…that’s what makes it interesting.

  5. Create a *positive “punishment” for complaining. Trying to lose weight? Great, you’ll do 15 push-ups for every complaint recorded.

The funny thing is someone will inevitably complain about reading this email (lol). Don't want to receive it? Simply unsubscribe. Think this challenge is too tough? Good, more room for someone else to take your place while you're busy whining on the sidelines.

The way you take care of your mental health dictates the way you handle life. Emotional resiliency might be the most important thing we offer our community - better ways to handle the stress and the hardship. It's all well and good when things are going your way, but what do you sound like when they're not?

Think better, live better.

Jason LoebigComment