Going Complaint-Free, Again

BlogHer Original Post

A little over a year ago I started the Complaint Free World Challenge to go 21 days without complaining, gossiping or criticizing. It took me about seven months to successfully achieve 21 consecutive days without engaging in the negative talk but I did it and it felt great. Shortly thereafter my business and life slowly but surely began to feel the negative effects of the economy. Recently I realized that instead of finding positive and creative responses to the opportunities financial pressures create, all too often I find myself slipping into blaming the recession, frustrated into paralyzed inaction (where do I begin?) and resentful of others because they appear to be cruising along in a motor boat while I struggle to paddle a canoe in their wake.

Of course that is all an illusion. It is a reality I choose to create for myself and which I bring to life through my actions and attitude. It's not a pretty Maria and not one I like seeing in the mirror in the morning or at the end of a long day before I go to bed.

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz I remind myself that I've had the power all along. I can choose how I respond to circumstances and I can create new ones. And so I am working on doing just that. I've taken lots of positive forward action in the past several weeks. As part of that work I am revisiting the Complaint Free World Challenge. My purple bracelet is back on my wrist. And already I can tell it is helping.

This time around I am not focusing on switching wrists and tracking days but rather on using the bracelet as a visual reminder to re-direct my thoughts and words towards me and what positive action I can take rather than lazily falling into gossiping, complaining and criticizing. It absolutely feels great to blow off steam. And I willingly open myself to friends who need to vent. While I cannot control what anyone else says or does I can decide how I will react (do I just offer to listen and not join in?) and what I do with that energy. What I am trying to not to do is to wallow in the easy comfort of putting all the blame for my circumstances on the recession or on others and instead choose to take positive action.

Another interesting influence going complaint-free is having this time is that I am reducing my consumption of news and reality TV. It is a very odd development in the world of a life-long news, information and pop-culture junkie. But with this recession the news is so relentlessly negative. I feel it eating my soul. And when I allow that noise into my life the temptation to curl up in a little ball and never leave my sofa is great. I find it much harder to not complain, gossip and criticize if I am on a steady diet of the stuff from the media.

I suspect I will return to my steady media diet when things pick up and the airwaves are not filled with non-stop stories of people losing their jobs, losing their homes, the growth of modern day shanty towns and the population of homeless children plus the relentless nit-picking, blame and schadenfreude generated by an economic crisis that nothing and no one seems able to fix.  But it will be interesting to see how the changes wrought by a little piece of purple rubber stick and create lasting change in my life.

Have you found yourself complaining more as the recession lingers and the news is relentlessly negative? Have you tried the Complaint Free Challenge? How is your success going?

Related Reading:

Deanna Raybourn at Blog A Go-Go: In which I am complaint-free

Because of this experiment, I've also started to think about the blogs, TV shows, and even people I know who seem to exist solely to find fault. All of the physical decluttering over the holidays seems to have led to some mental decluttering as well, and I'm finding myself more and more determined to deal positively with people and to engage as much as I can with people I aspire to be like. I'm building my bookmarks with people who are creative and enthusiastic and who DO things, creating a resource of inspiration for those days when I need to rub up against someone else's creative fires to get warm.

Christine Kane at Creating A Better Life: 9 Irresistible Reasons to Go Complaint-Free Starting Now

7 - When you’re complaint-free, you banish lazy thinking.

Think about it.

You can’t get much lazier than complaining and gossiping. It’s the same well-worn neural pathway you’ve trudged down day after day, along with 95% of the population. When you’re complaint-free, you go a different route. With alertness and alacrity, you find new ways of seeing things. (Plus, you get to use words like alacrity!)

Kit at Saints Alive! A Complaint-Free World...

Lately, I have found it all too easy to take the complaining route instead of the positive change route. It is fun to complain about the weather, the students, the economy, the people who cut in front of me at Meijer, the people who don't pick up after their dogs, people who don't think like me or who don't like the same things I do. It is easy to find fault with others, instead of looking for fault in myself. And it is way too easy to join in with a group of others to tear down some other person or some other project, rather than to build it up.

Like me, Nici at Somewhere in the distance finds driving a particularly challenging activity during which to go complaint free.

Amylia Grace at Diabetes Daily gave up complaining for Lent as did members of a church in Savage, Minnesota as Keighla Schmidt reports at Savage Pacer.

Patti at 37 Days asks what would you be doing today if you only had 37 days to live? Would you spend it complaining, criticizing and gossiping?

Jan Janzen asks Are you a complainer?

And Amber Cabral suggests you Watch Your Mouth

BlogHer CE Maria Niles is working on not complaining on her personal blog PopConsumer where she started the challenge.

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