Just read this quote, “Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have, and give thanks for the troubles we don’t have” and it set me thinking.
First, the bad news. Life is not perfect. It never has been and never will be. Now, the good news. Once we begin to accept this reality, we welcome a great number of possibilities. Why then, do we continue to complain about its imperfections?
We complain about the weather, the traffic, our boss, our friends. We complain about tight clothing, weight gain, power cuts, in-laws and maids. We complain about our jobs , our cars, our drivers or lack of one. We complain about rising prices, corrupt politicians, crying babies, ungrateful teenagers, and lazy spouses. We complain about TV shows, celebrities, barking dogs….
Complaining has become our go-to solution to express our pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment. And no, complaining or “venting our feelings” like this is rarely healthy.
Complaining keeps our focus on the negatives. And we have all heard this, “what you focus on, grows”. Complaining never results in joy—it just makes us a living, breathing ‘crap’ magnet. And by focusing on and drawing attention to the problems and discomforts around us, we direct other people towards it too.
And do you think it changes anything? No. It just keeps us stuck in negativity. It is hugely unattractive habit, that slowly becomes our personality. It is un-enjoyable and annoying to spend time around chronic complainers. And since complaining has its base in blame, we are perpetually in a victim-plane, a space which does not encourage change or growth.
On the other hand, if we shift our focus to the positive, it allows gratitude to take root. And gratitude, my friend, is the magic dust that beautifies everything.So how do we stop this cycle of blame and complain?
Recognise that we live in an imperfect world. Life may not always going to serve up what we would like (or even expect) at every turn. There will be trouble, trial, and pain. This is okay. Like I love repeating, a straight line, even on an ECG machine means you are dead!
Understand the difference between helpful criticism and complaint. There are times when it is entirely appropriate to raise attention to a wrong being committed. Figure out if you can do anything to change the situation. Otherwise, zip up and get out.
Become conscious of how many times your conversation begins with a complaint. Often we use it to gain attention or a reaction and keep ourselves firmly in the lime light. Or as a means of self-validation. Complaining “I have no time at all”, for example, is a subtle way of emphasising your importance. Do we need these tools in our kit?
Notice your triggers. Is there a specific time period of the day you tend to complain more than others? Morning, evening, or late afternoon? When your spouse is at home? When you are with your friends? Maybe it is around the water cooler with your co-workers? Or is it that phone break with your close friend? Stop. Look. And avoid these triggers if possible. You know you are responsible for your life, right? Be vigilant.
Use Gratitude. Setting a goal of “I will never, never, ever complain” is a sure-shot recipe for failure. Instead, be mindful. Be like a meerkat where your thoughts and words are concerned. Every time the urge to complain rises, say something nice instead. I find using the gratitude app on my phone really helpful. Not only it reminds me to write down a list of things I am thankful for, three times a day, it is also handy every time I feel the compulsion to complain. A quick look at the app and what I have written resets my compass.
As Mariane Williamson says, “Gratitude is an opener for locked-up blessings in our life”.
So what are the top 3 things you are grateful for TODAY?