Anyone watch the Today show this morning? They had a segment on a 21-day “no complaints” challenge, and it got me thinking…
Without complaints, would we be happier, or would we be just walking time-bombs of repressed emotion and unhappiness?
There’s two ways of looking at this, I suppose. There’s the theory that complaining becomes habitual, like biting one’s nails or chewing with one’s mouth open. Once you get in the habit of complaining, it snowballs and you begin constantly complaining. This leads to feelings of general discontent and brings others down with you. The whole “Misery loves Company” concept.
On the other hand, there’s the thought that complaints are simply expressions of emotions, that one can simply utter a grievance, and move on with his or her life as a happier person.
Personally, I agree with both viewpoints. I know a few whiners who get so caught up in the negative that they completely miss the other side of things. They seek out things to complain about. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and I can say that I’ve been there. There was a brief period in my life immediately following a car accident where nothing seemed to go right. I was in a lot of physical pain, I was no longer able to do the things I loved to do (running, hiking, lifting weights), I was unhappy in my employment as a child care provider/preschool teacher by day and waitress by night. My usually sunny disposition turned sour, and I began constantly complaining… I decided that nothing could go right. And then I became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I got my car back from the autobody shop, and within 2 weeks, I was rear-ended again. The car went back in the shop. My grandfather died. I went to the emergency room with severe tonsillitis. I attracted bad things. Tay brought my attention to my recent shift in attitude. “All you ever do is complain lately. It’s not like you to be so negative all the time.” At first, I was pissed off. He was supposed to be supportive of me! I just needed someone to listen to me! But then I realized that he was right. I had been moping around for months. And as soon as I changed my attitude, good things started happening. I couldn’t run anymore, but I found yoga. And I started looking for the bright side again.
I think there is healthy complaining. Mindful complaining. When the complaints don’t pepper your speech continuously.
If you voice a grievance about something, and do nothing to change it… that’s a problem. That’s passive. We each have a choice in every situation. And sometimes that choice is just a shift in viewpoint.
Here’s an example. I love to dine out, but I rarely do. If I go somewhere with my husband, we always make a reservation. Sometimes, even with a reservation, we end up waiting for our table. I could complain. But instead, I’ve chosen to see this as an opportunity to spend more time conversing with my husband. My situation has not changed… I’m still not seated at my table… but I’m content with my circumstances because I’ve chosen to view them in a positive light.
Maybe I should give this “no complaints” thing a try…