Why does it seem like gratitude and appreciation require so much intentionality but grumbling, questioning, and complaining come so naturally?
We complain when things don’t go as we want, when others don’t think or act the way we think they should, and about all the problems we encounter or perceive in the world.
Is it just our nature to be discontent? Why do I complain? Am I guilty of complaining too much?
Sometimes, complaining may help us manage our emotions. We need to vent; share and get the feedback and insights of those we trust when dealing with life’s difficulties.
Sometimes, we’re just in a bad mood. Unfortunately, that can lead to an even darker mood and more negativity.
Sometimes, being around others who complain encourages me in my own. It’s a weird form of bonding.
Just how aware am I of my own complaining? I’m trying to pay attention to my daily interactions with people—especially in my speech; my words, tone of voice and body language—but also in my text and email exchanges.
To beat complaining, we might try: (1) journaling about our feelings, problems, and potential solutions, or even the positive aspects of a situation; (2) working to deepen friendships that allow for healthier conflict and resolution of differences; or (3) really being intentionally grateful. It’s hard to be grateful and complain at the same time.
William A. Ward said, “The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sail.”
We need to limit our complaints to problems to be solved—and be part of the solution.
In The No Complaining Rule, Jon Gordon suggests going on a complaining fast; commit to a No Complaining Day!
And when you do complain, use it to your advantage. He points out that every complaint has an opposite. If there is something you don’t like, there is something you do like. If there is something you’re unhappy about – there is something that would make you happy. What’s that?
He suggests that complaining can be a gift! If we attend to our thoughts, words, and complaints—we can discern what we don’t want and like—and that can be a catalyst to determine what we do.
When I’m aware that I’m complaining, I can stop and ask myself, “Why don’t I like this? Why am I unhappy about this? What do I want? What will make me happy? What mindset shift do I need to make? What can I do to address this?
Gordon offers three no complaining tools.
When you ‘re complaining about something—add the word BUT followed by a positive thought or action.
I hate all these trucks on the freeway BUT I’m thankful for full shelves at the supermarket.
Focus on get to not have to.
I don’t have to go to work. Maybe I don’t have to do anything. I get to do things. We get to go to work. There are lots of people who don’t.
Turn complaints into solutions.
We can’t eliminate all our complaining, but we can take the complaining that’s justified and do something worthwhile with it.
Take Helen Keller’s advice: “Be happy with what you have while working for what you want.”
Written by Jim Gernetzke, Executive Coach and founder of Nos Lumine