I did it. I went a week without complaining. Seven days. I thought about it a few times. A co-worker, I won’t mention her name, but she is in charge of our small groups, suggested I complained about the weather. I still think I described reality in a charitable manner. So if I didn’t go a whole week without complaining, I was pretty darn close.
I had found myself being negative over the last few months. The clothes don’t fit. The car line was too slow. I was tired. Details. Weather. Whatever. Complaining is as contagious as the flu. And more destructive. The flu disappears after a week. The negativity and anger caused by complaining can last a lifetime. So I was done complaining. At least for a week. Here are four things I experienced:
- Complaining starts in the mind and heart and then goes through the mouth.
So I didn’t verbally complain. But I still complained. I mentally griped about what was wrong in my world. But, not verbally complaining caused me to reframe my thoughts. I could have complained about the other drivers in the car line at Willowdale (plenty of material to work with), but I focused on gratitude instead. One day I sat with the windows down and enjoyed the day. One day I got ahead on email. One day I called my mom. Each day I tried to be fully present with David. Not verbally complaining caused me to focus on my heart and mind. It moved me from annoyance and scarcity to gratitude and abundance. That is a good move.
- Complaining is a waste of time and energy.
I only have so much time and energy. Complaining solves no problems. It sucks the life out of the complainer and those around the complainer. Not complaining caused me to become more proactive. I looked for solutions. I was more creative and less anxious. My time and energy was being spent on the right things and it felt great.
- Friendships thrive when complaining is absent.
Some relationships thrive when both parties complain. Well they don’t thrive, but they are built on complaining. Complaining is a lousy basis for a friendship. I was intentional with the words I used. They were encouraging. I looked for the best in people in the world. I laughed a lot more. I felt closer to people. Life was so much more positive. And better.
- Letting go is better than complaining.
Many times I internally complained, I realized something: I can’t change the object of my complaint—only my reaction. By the middle the week I found myself being more patient and tolerant. I was letting go of annoyances and being more graceful to others and myself.
This experiment was a few weeks ago. I’m a work in progress. Sometimes I find myself vocalizing my complaints. Sometimes the filter in my mouth quiets the complaints in my mind and heart. But I remember those seven days. One week that showed me a better way.
Do everything without complaining. –Philippians 2:14