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How to Stop Complaining and Live a Happier LIfe

I came across this article in Fast Company about the Complaint/Restraint project. In an attempt to create more positive lives, Thierry Blancpain and Pieter Pelgrims agreed to stop complaining entirely for one full month.

According to the article, studies show that during the course of an average conversation people complain every minute. I have to admit this made me a little sick to my stomach. Complainers absolutely drive me crazy and yet somehow I begrudgingly think that I’m probably right up there with the worst of them.

If you do decide to read the article please read the Q&A that follows. I think that’s the most interesting piece of it. In that you’ll see how Thierry and Pieter handled negativity by turning complaints into solutions. So, instead of complaining that there is yet another snowstorm headed our way you could say, “well there’s another snowstorm coming, but at least I’ll get my exercise by shoveling.”

Or instead of complaining that your publisher canceled your series you could try, “well, my publisher canceled my series, but now it gives me time to explore some of these other ideas I’ve been excited about.”

I think the idea is that it’s okay to be unhappy about things, but instead of always complaining you’ll find you’re happier overall if you find the positive in the negative.

I’ll admit, the whole idea of a month, heck even a day, of not complaining stresses me out. It even makes me want to complain, but I think I’m going to give it a try. I’m not going to commit to any given time period, but I am going to be more conscious of what I say and how positive I can be and if I do feel I have something legitimate to complain about I’m going to try to find positive aspects so that my conversation about it takes on a different life.

–jhf

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5 comments

  1. A few years ago I started the habit of saying "Well the world didn't end" or "Well the world won't end if…" when things don't go the way I want them to & I want to complain. It also helps when I'm reluctant to do something or if I'm faced with something to do that I've never done before.

  2. Complaint has become a deeply ingrained part of our culture. Dissatisfaction and attention-getting via negative drama are part and parcel of who we are, in a world where snark has come to pass for entertainment and we almost have contests to see whose day (or whose life) is worse/hardest.

    Over the past twenty years, I've been learning the importance of practicing gratitude. It's my good fortune to have some friends and family who do the same – and, with those who don't know how, I actually find myself providing reciprocal "complaints" calibrated for either humor or their own self-exposure as weak sauce. Yep. It's like a smart woman who acts dumb – I participate in the negativity, even if in the very attempt to shine a light on it.

    DEEPLY ingrained.

    Love this post – and thank you for it. This is one of those attitudes we really need to cultivate as pre-published authors – optimism!

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