I'm into rubber bracelet causes as much as the next girl, and I saw one on a friend that I love. It said, “Complaint-Free Living.”
It turns out, it comes from Bill Bowen's book, “A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted.” He suggests that people shift a “CFW” band from one wrist to the other every time they complain, “until they have managed to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, criticizing or gossiping.”
Seriously! It's quite a challenge, one I confess that I tried with varying degrees of success for a long time. I can't say I hit the 21 day mark (honestly), but I can say with certainty that, even without a purple wristband, a complaint-free mentality can set you on the road to contentment.
The Good and the Bad of Complaining
I don't exactly hate complaining. Certainly, there are things to like about it. After all, a full-blown vent can be quite liberating! That's the problem.
Complaining, when overused, keeps us from taking responsibility. When we look to blame our actions or our choices on others, there's no quicker way to suck the positivity out of a room. You can almost hear the silence in the wake of the vacuum.
We all know people who suffer from bummer-itis — living, breathing rain clouds who can find fault in everyone except themselves. These people love to point out problems and mistakes. Sometimes, they will even complain about other people's complaining (I know, I'm coming close, so let me re-direct).
I reached my limit with one such acquaintance whose “kvetching” was incredibly draining. I bit my tongue and swore off gratuitous complaints forever!
Being the Change
It's no easy task. I recall a class with an Indian yoga master, T.K.V. Desikachar. We discussed, of all things, the struggle to keep calm in a long line at the grocery store. His message was to bring a ‘yoga' way into our daily lives. For him, a positive attitude is a way of being. It is his choice every day.
Over the course of a few years, after an intentional decision to start looking for the positive, I can vouch for its benefit to my life. It adds pleasure, increases productivity, and encourages others to do the same. I must own up to lapses from time to time, but awareness is key, and it's definitely made a difference. Even in difficult times, I can find the positive anywhere…when I choose to look for it.
“Complaint-free” living means that you stop negative approaches to sharing information, like complaining, criticizing and gossiping. Instead of looking for what's wrong, it's about looking for what could be right. After all, whether you look for the negative or the positive, that's exactly what you're likely to find.
Where are you on the journey to complaint-free living? Are you a consummate complainer? Are you an optimist? Are you, like many of us, somewhere in between? The goal here is to move yourself closer toward gratitude and respect, where you can accept others without judgment.
Commit to Complaint-Free Living
So, what do you think? Purple wristband, or not, are you ready to seek out positive perspectives? Will you practice withholding judgment, beginning with yourself? My life has been significantly happier since I adopted this approach. I recommend you give it a try.
- Pay attention to when you hear yourself complaining, criticizing or gossiping.
- When you become aware of it, pay attention to your next instinct. Do you jump to criticize yourself? It's a positive step to take responsibility for your action, but not by self-contempt. That just feeds the cycle.
- Several times a day, try to stop yourself before you verbalize a complaint. If you're not sure if it's a complaint, ask yourself, “What purpose will it serve to say this out loud?” More than likely, if it's a complaint, it won't improve anything.
- When you do notice that you're becoming ‘negative,' stop. Change your approach. Is there another way to see the situation?
- Finally, treat yourself as well as you are trying to treat others. When you notice you have ‘slipped' into the negative (and let's be serious, you're human and you will), try something crazy, like laughing out loud. After all, learning to laugh with yourself is about as positive as life can get.