Overall, I would have to say that I am grateful. How could I not feel fortunate? I am healthy and mostly happy. I have a partner who is also my friend. Things with the new house are going well. My teenage offspring and I continue to enjoy a good relationship. (That last bit is not something I take for granted. I am well-aware that not every parent has this!)
Yet, despite all of the light and love present in my life, I would have to say that I am an EXCELLENT complainer.
I am a sarcastic and critical over-thinker. I am extraordinarily capable of poking holes in things. Sometimes, those skills are actually great! I can take a piece of fiction and deconstruct it six ways from Sunday. It’s also good to have a grasp on the possible pitfalls and risks, which is something my mind goes to automatically. (In a group of friends, I tend to be the one nagging people to reapply sunscreen and make sure they’re hydrated!) But sometimes… sometimes it just turns into me being an anxiety-bag, and picking the whole world apart, only to wind up annoyed because it doesn’t come up to my exacting standards.
Useless complaining doesn’t help anyone. Although it may feel good in the moment, It doesn’t resolve the situation. It doesn’t endear you to the people around you either, and I feel like…sometimes, it can actually stress you out. If you allow yourself to ruminate in that energy, there is no way you’re going to be a positive person. I would reason that complaining a lot makes it harder to be happy.
I first heard about the 21-day no complaint challenge through productivity guru Tim Ferriss’ blog. Tim, in turn, had been influenced by Will Bowen, who is a minister, author and motivational speaker. He is the founder of the “Complaint Free” Movement. (You can find out lots more about that here.)
The idea is so simple; you wear a bracelet as a reminder on your wrist. Any time you complain, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist and start over again. Eventually, you succeed by surviving a full 21-days complaint-free.
SO SIMPLE. Yet…the challenge is obvious. I mean, I’m a positive-thinker, but…I don’t think I know ANYBODY who doesn’t complain, at least a little. Imagine how your mind would change if you never complained. I mean, talk about cultivating a positive mindset!
Suffice it to say, I can’t really see this particular challenge as anything but positive for an over-thinker like me.
To clarify, I know that sometimes what could considered “complaining” is actually useful. The classic example is ordering something in a restaurant and not getting what you wanted. In this instance, yes, you should (nicely) complain! The difference here is that the complaint is constructive. You deserve a meal that’s to your liking, and bringing the problem to someone’s attention allows it to be resolved. Constructive complaining, where steps can be taken to resolve a problem, is ok. The complaining that isn’t helpful would be complaining to pass the time, to shame someone else, to make yourself feel better, or to reaffirm a negative belief.
I suppose that I love a good challenge EVEN MORE than I love a good complaint-filled rant, so I’m going to take today as my DAY 1. I am not going to purchase a special bracelet from the website, but there are bracelets/packages available, and they appear to come with a variety of supports and extras. You can support the movement and get an official bracelet here: acomplaintfreeworld.org Instead, I am cheaping out, grabbing a magenta piece of string, and ta-da! a bracelet that I can easily wear without having to take it off at night.
I’ll be posting updates as I move seamlessly and easily toward my day 21. (Sarcasm is still ok!) Each vocalized complaint means that I have to start again.
Anyone else wanna try this?
Yours in hopeful positivity,