How Much Do You Complain?

I recently read a post on Bacon is Magic titled Could You Last One Day Without Complaining?  In it, Ayngelina’s sister writes about her 30-day challenge to quit complaining.  I’ve thought about this before, and personally, couldn’t last long myself.  What is it about complaining?  Do we feel comforted by it?  Do we feel it connects us with other people?  Or makes us more interesting?  I’ve tried to quit myself, with little success.  My husband says I could never do it; that he can’t imagine me going 30 days without saying the word “annoying.”

But it has me thinking…

How do I approach everything in my life?  And can I control this?  I don’t really know the answer to that, but I’m going to guess that it’s just about the only thing I can control in my life.

Can I choose to stand in line at the grocery store and feel patient, or am I destined to always scope out the other lines, feeling like I need immediate service?

Can I choose to appreciate the beauty of the snow falling, or do I have to focus on how much I don’t want to drive in it tomorrow?

Can I choose to believe the guy in the next lane over just didn’t see my signal, or am I stuck in a world where other drivers won’t let me merge?

Can I choose to give it my all and pretend I am a backup dancer for the teacher in Zumba class, or will I keep looking at the clock thinking about how much I hate exercising and I hate the gym?

Can I choose to enjoy the beauty in the colors of the vegetables on my plate and savor the natural flavors each ingredient contributes, or must I look at that food with hatred and feel deprived because it’s not pizza and ice cream?

Can I choose to view the new eating habits I have created for myself as the ultimate gift I am giving to my body, or will I always view it as the worst kind of punishment?

I am not really sure the answer to these questions.  Sometimes I think we can choose, and other times, I think it may be beyond our control.  Regardless, for me it’s empowering to know that whatever my thoughts are, they are just realities that I have made up.  So if I made those up,  there’s hope that I can create new ones.

I know I’d love to live in a world in which we had one day to let it all out.  Maybe we should make Festivus an official holiday?  It could be fun to have a designated day for “airing our grievances.”  Maybe then we could reserve all other days for a little more delight.

What about you?  How do you act?  Do you complain a lot or use the word “annoying” as much as I do?  (I even tried saying irritated in place of annoyed, thinking I could fool my husband.  It didn’t work.)  If you do complain, is it subtle?  Is it incessant?  Do you feel more connected to others if you can share your grievances?

2 comments on “How Much Do You Complain?

  1. This is the post that I came back to re-read.

    I find this one especially interesting because this issue of complaining has been on my mind a great deal lately.
    I’m away on business 2-3 weeks out of every month, so keeping a consistent, good attitude while I’m home is a priority of mine.

    My dad once asked me, when I walk through the door to my home, what kind of energy do I bring along into the house with me. He said that I would be able to tell by the attitude shifts of my wife and kids. Of course, I would also be able to tell if there was an issue if there were no attitude shift at all when I arrive home.
    Aissa Wayne, John Wayne’s daughter, once said this about the experience of her father coming home from work,

    ” ‘Hello, The House!’ I hear the sound resonating from outside in—it’s my dad. I can hear his big voice bellow through the tall front doors of our home, filling the two-story foyer and traveling up the wide circular stair-way that leads up to my room on the second floor.
    I hear it again: “Hell-OOO…The House!” And then a clatter follows as the double front doors open with such force that they bang the inside walls behind them, bouncing back like hollow-slatted half-doors that had just been kicked open in a western saloon. A familiar surge of warm energy tumbles in with the sound, buoyantly flooding the space inside our home. It’s my dad’s magnanimous presence and love. “He’s home!” is all I can think as I come flying down the long stairway that hugs the curved walls of our foyer.”

    After reading this article and pondering my dad’s question, I’ve made so many changes to my attitude. Yet still I’m a complainer, and it has to stop.
    It’s one thing to get angry and let somebody have it at work, or what have you. I’m fine with that. But just being grumpy about any little thing that doesn’t go my way… that is the thing that I’m working on.

    Damn good post my friend.

    • Funny you should mention that– this is the comment I came back to re-read 😉 Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment.

      I think that your attitude in the house is so important because your family will, without a doubt, be affected by whatever energy you bring with you. Your John Wayne quote makes me think about how excited we used to get as little kids when my dad came home. It really is one of life’s simple pleasures. Imagine how equally big, but negative, the impact is when dad rolls in miserable. You know all this. Even when I was having a rough time with my old career my husband said to me, “something has to change. I don’t care what you do. Leave your job, leave your career… it doesn’t matter to me. But you can’t keep coming home this way, or our marriage will not survive this over the years.” He was right. Not only is it dad, and not only is it in the house– it’s everyone everywhere that can really affect your attitude and energy. I was just reading another blog yesterday in which the guy said to surround yourself with positive people at work because the negativity is contagious. And that makes brings me back to this question I ask about why we complain. Sometimes I think there’s an odd comfort or connection we feel with other people when we complain. Even on my other blog– when I say really positive stuff, it doesn’t get the same type of buzz that the negative stuff gets. Interesting.

      I’m with you. I need to complain less. The good thing about writing this post is that at least I have an awareness (at moments) when I am having a negative thought. And it helps me to think about it and try to re-frame it.

      I also think it’s all in the delivery (what I think you’re saying in your last paragraph.) What some people consider complaining, others don’t. When people come in my office and tell me about a challenge they are having, it is so different from the nagging and pointless, “I hate this, and I hate that, and this isn’t going to work,” that just oozes negativity. (I also wonder if a positive attitude toward something like this will make you more successful. I probably shouldn’t wonder– I see it happen.) One approach invokes empathy and the other makes me want to run! 🙂

      Anyway, I could go on forever. Thanks for stopping in. It’s great to have your thoughts here!

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