Sometimes it comes all too naturally to me: I have a hard day at work, a friend cancels on dinner, my Chinese food place has a line, or my favorite dress shrinks in the wash. And what do I do? I whine. It's hard to stop complaining, but if you want a more positive life that's not fraught with minor inconveniences magnified tenfold, then it's time to take charge.
I get that sometimes a person has to vent, but if we're being honest, how much do we actually complain? Something could be mildly inconvenient and our minds go on a tirade over how this day is now moot or we turn to our friends and let it rip about so-and-so and their actions. It seems like it's nothing but negative talk and slightly destructive thoughts, and that can put a real crimp on our outlook on life. After all, we get dealt obstacles all the time, so it's up to us to learn how to deal with them in a mindful, preferably rage-less way. So how do we do that? How do we stunt those knee-trigger complaints?
We just have to be more aware of what we're thinking. Below are 11 tips on how to complain less and be happy more!
1. Come To Terms That Life Is Triumphs And Tribulations
While I wish life was nothing but gum drops and puppy barks as much as the next guy, bad things happening is just part of the deal. So once you accept that, dealing with those hiccups and disappointments becomes much easier. It's just something you need to get through in order to continue on towards the positive. Lifestyle writer Joshua Becker from self-development blog Becoming Minimalist wrote, "the sooner we stop holding out for a world that revolves around us, the sooner we can embrace the fact that our contribution is far more needed than our pleasure. Discomfort should not surprise us." So work through it gracefully, you have the strength in you.
2. Monitor The Way You Think
If you're a big complainer, chances are your thought process is skewed towards the negative. In order to fix that, change the way you think. Lifestyle writer Lauren Stewart from Tiny Buddha advised, "When you find yourself thinking or saying a negative comment about something or someone, stop and force yourself to say something positive instead." By flipping the comments, you'll train yourself to be more positive.
3. See Obstacles As Opportunities
Is your boss being difficult? See it as a test in handling tricky people diplomatically. Did your car break down? Here's your lesson on how you always need an emergency fund. Did your partner cheat on you? Here's your chance to practice self-love and healing without resentment. Each obstacle you have is an opportunity. Lifestyle writer Katherine Eion from Lifehack confirmed, "Think of the experience as an opportunity rather than an untenable obstacle." You might not be happy, but you're still learning and growing.
4. Become Your Own Leader
If you have a habit of complaining, then you're taking a passive role in your life. You're letting things steamroll you and go in a direction you don't want them to. Instead, become your own leader. Lifestyle writer Onder Hassan from Lifehack observed, "Being a leader in your life takes courage and requires the willingness to face your fears, experience failure, and take complete personal responsibility of everything that happens to you." Don't be passive with complaints, take charge!
5. Complaints Should Have Purpose
If you complain, it should be because you need to resolve an issue, make a process better, or mend a relationship you're beginning to resent. Becker explained, "Decipher if the situation can and should be resolved. If not, there is a good chance our complaints have no real interest in dialogue, problem solving, or human connection. And in that case, they should be avoided." Complaints should always have purpose.
6. Realize You Don't Know People's Stories
You might roll your eyes at the waiter because he's slightly snappy, or think your boss is a jerk because she's always on edge. But instead of complaining, acknowledge that you don't know their stories, and they probably have something going on behind the scenes to make them act that way. Stewart explained, "We often complain about others because we think they are not up to our standards. Once you stop judging people without knowing their stories, you will most likely complain less about the things people do." After all, think about all those times you were less than great when you were moody.
7. Remember Nothing Is Static
Even if what you're experiencing right now is terrible and might make you want a good rant, keep in mind that everything moves along and changes. You just have to ride it out. Eion offered, "The thing that is creating a problem cannot last forever. Most problems are temporary and fleeting." Your complaints won't make it move along, so don't make a bad situation worse.
8. Keep A Tally
You might be reading this and be thinking, "meh, this isn't directed at me." But you might be surprised over how much you actually complain! For that reason, a great tip is to keep a tally. Lifestyle writer Mary Jo Dilonardo from lifestyle site Mother Nature Network recommended, "Even if it's just little hash marks on a piece of paper, keep a running tally every time you complain. It may be quite eye-opening." Seeing how much negativity you actually indulge in could be just the kick you need to stop.
9. Notice Your Triggers
Sometimes we have triggers that set us off on a complaint rampage. It might be when you're stuck in the elevator, sitting down for coffee, or chatting on the phone with your friend. Knowing your triggers can be helpful. Becker offered, "avoid triggers if possible. If they cannot be avoided, make a point to be extra vigilant when you see them arise." If you know what your catalyst is, you can be extra careful to only keep it positive during those moments.
10. Notice Your Choices
Complaining is a very passive tool, and it doesn't really help us in any way. When there's a problem you should spring into action and fix it, or wait till you can. Stewart pointed out, "If something is bothering you, either fix it or accept that nothing can be done right now, so why complain?" Even if there's no solution at the moment, there will be one later so complaining still won't help.
11. Challenge Yourself
It's not enough to just say you'll start a new habit — you have to take some action steps in order to get it started. That's why you should challenge yourself. Becker explained, "try designating a short period of time where you can be particularly mindful. For example, decide to go just one day without complaining."
After awhile you can slowly start raising the duration of the goal, and ween yourself off of those knee-jerk complaints.
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