It’s so easy to complain. We complain all the time.
I have a headache and my ears are popping. My house is too small and my car did a weird thing yesterday. My contacts are dry and my shoulder hurts. I don’t want to go to the gym but I don’t want to be fat either! Why does pizza have to have calories in it?!
See what I mean. We all have little complaints all the time. It can be really really hard to stop complaining and be grateful instead.
I read once that humans have such a strong negativity bias that it takes seven good things to make the same impression on us as one bad thing. Isn’t that amazing? We are literally prone towards complaining.
But how do you feel when someone else complains? Did you love my little whine-fest above? I bet you didn’t. Just like bad breath we don’t like it when others have it but we often don’t know when we have it.
Did you know that the average person complains 15-30 times a day without even realizing? We even bond with other people by complaining.
So how can we stop complaining and be grateful? How will it improve our lives? What does it have to do with the minimalist lifestyle?
Let’s dive in!
The Benefits of Complaining
First of all, why do we complain so much? Why do negative statements flow from our lips like water?
It’s not just because we tend to be more impacted by negative events than positive events. It’s also because we gain rewards for complaining. What rewards?
Here are the “benefits” of complaining:
- Complaining gets us attention.
- When we complain that something is too hard we get out of it.
- Complaining can be a form of backwards bragging where we talk about how well we are doing but belittle it in some way.
- We can gain power over others by complaining about them and gaining followers in our complaints.
- We excuse poor performance by coming up with a million reasons it’s not our fault that we did a bad job.
It’s interesting when you think about complaining that way. We complain because it fills our needs. It helps us get what we want in one way or another.
That being said, it’s not appealing when we complain. It may draw other complainers to us but it doesn’t really improve our lives. Instead it allows us to focus too long on the negative instead of moving on to the positive.
The Benefits of Not Complaining
If it’s so easy to complain and it fills some of our basic social needs we are going to need some good reasons to stop complaining and be grateful or proactive instead. What are the benefits of NOT complaining?
I was struck by what Mel Robbins said on her Instagram post:
“Here’s what your gonna realize if you focus on not complaining. Your life is way better than you think it is. Right now you don’t realize how much your focused on what’s not working. When you stop complaining it creates room for you to see what actually is working. There is so much about your life right now that deserves celebration and that deserves gratitude and when you stop complaining you will start celebrating and feeling more grateful that the things that are going right.”Mel Robbins
That video actually inspired this post. Isn’t it amazing to think that you have a lot of good things in your life that maybe your missing because of your complaining?
Here are few other benefits to NOT complaining:
- When you avoid complaining you start thinking more positively.
- You will be a refreshing person to be around. People will trust you more and your relationships will grow stronger.
- People who don’t complain often do better in their careers and make steady progress towards their goals because they are looking for solutions instead of excuses.
- Your positive thinking will make you happier overall.
- A good attitude is scientifically proven to lead to better health and even quicker recovery times and longer survival rates.
- When you stop yourself from complaining you have time to think before you act.
What Exactly Counts As Complaining?
So what exactly counts as complaining? Is any negative statement a complaint? Not necessarily.
When you complain you express grief, frustration or dissatisfaction with something to someone who cannot fix that problem. On the other hand, if you are telling someone about a fact that they can correct in a neutral tone that isn’t really a complaint. That’s seeking a solution.
For example if you whine to your mother or your best friend about how your husband never puts his dirty socks in the hamper that is a complaint. If you calmly mention to your husband that you would like him to try to remember to put his socks in the hamper that is problem solving not complaining.
Complaining also includes gossip about other people and hurtful talk to their face. That kind of negative talk should be avoided for obvious reasons. Let’s stop putting so much negativity in the world!
Tips to Help You Stop Complaining and Be Grateful
So now that we know why we complain, why we shouldn’t, and what actually counts as complaining let’s figure out how to stop. It’s an ingrained habit that most of us have and but it is possible to stop it.
Thousands of people have removed complaining from their everyday life! There is a whole movement around it. It’s called the No Complaint Movement and it was started by Will Bowen who wrote A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Enjoy the Life You Always Wanted.
So what is their strategy to stop complaining? It’s pretty simple.
They offer a purple rubber bracelet for free at their website and you have to move that bracelet from one wrist to the other every time you complain. Whenever you move your bracelet you are back at day 1 but your goal is go make it to day 21 because that’s the average time it takes for a habit to form.
It’s okay to fail again and again as long as you keep trying. Will Bowen says it takes most people 4-8 months to achieve 21 straight days without complaining.
You can also use a ring, a watch, a bracelet of any kind, or whatever you need to keep yourself accountable.
Other tips given to help you stop complaining include the following:
- If you have to question whether or not something is a complaint it probably is.
- Reframe the problem in your head and look for the solution or the benefit.
- Avoid complaining competitions with friends.
- If you find that you complain a lot with a certain friend consider whether or not you may be the instigator.
- Shift conversations away from complaints.
- Do not engage in gossip.
- Persistently look for the positive side of the situation.
- You don’t have to say everything you feel.
- Think before your speak.
In Will Bowen’s book A Complaint Free World he talks extensively about the levels of competency and how it will take you time to stop complaining.
At first you think it will be super easy cause you don’t think you complain that much. Then you will realize how hard it really is as you catch yourself complaining a lot. You will start to succeed but then slip back and finally you will find that you don’t naturally fall back on complaining anymore.
The most important thing is that you keep trying.
When You Learn to Stop Complaining and Be Grateful Your Life Will Change
So is it worth it? Absolutely!
As Mel Robbins pointed out we all have many things in our life that are worth celebrating and appreciating but it can be so hard to see them when we are focused on what’s going wrong.
What do you think could change in your life if you stop complaining and be grateful instead?
It’s as simple as that statement. When you stop complaining you become grateful. The opposite of complaining is appreciation. You see will see what you can thank life for. You will appreciate all the privileges and blessings in your life. And your positive spirit will draw people to you and inspire them!
You will start making steady progress towards your goals and stop wallowing as a victim of circumstance.
Will You Stop Complaining and Be Grateful?
I just heard Will Bowen’s video and book and I haven’t started the no complaining challenge yet but will I? I think so!
I know it’s not going to be easy but I think that it will make me a more refreshing person to be around. As I think about it I don’t think I complain that much but I know I’m probably wrong. I want to be more grateful in my life and I want to look for solutions instead of problems so I don’t see why I shouldn’t give it a try!
Do you think you will try it? Let me know in the comments below!