For the month of April, I gave up “complaining”. We all know that’s not really a feasible goal to make. However, just the simple act of trying really put things in perspective.
I thought this would be an easy month. To make sure I didn’t break the rules, I wore a ring on my right hand that I normally don’t wear. It was a constant reminder. I also told as many people around me as I could so that they would hold me accountable.
About halfway through the month, I was sitting on my deck at the end of the day. As I watched the sun sink lower through the cottonwoods, all I could think about was how annoying the hum of the interstate was in the background. It was then that I realized how much I’ve been complaining about the fact that I can pretty much always hear it. But why would I complain about that when I chose to live in the city? I get to enjoy the fabulous, inspiring, ever-evolving life of a city. Who am I to complain about the sound of the interstate (or the traffic) when I get to enjoy the benefits of living in this thriving city?
First thing I learned: Stop complaining about the things you have control over and celebrate the reasons you chose them in the first place.
Since I’ve completed the month’s challenge and cut back on my complaints, the sound of others complaining is like a loud siren in my ear. It’s just plain annoying. I’m suddenly very aware of how intertwined complaining is in our society.
To be clear, I’m not pointing fingers – more like raising my hand. This harsh reality surfaced recently with my fiancé (that word is still weird). I’m not the best at talking about myself. I’m great at pulling information out of others and making them feel comfortable, but when it comes to me – I’m out. So, when it came to fueling a healthy relationship, I realized I needed to figure out a way to talk about myself and share my day with someone else.
Not long ago, I was working on a cool project with some good people and I wanted to talk about it with Brent. Without even realizing it, I went straight to complaining. I went on and on about how difficult this was or how terrible those people were. I acted so annoyed by the whole thing. After a few days of this, he said “why don’t you quit, then?” He had no idea that I actually loved the project and the people, because all I had done was complain. I wanted him to know how hard I was working and the only way I could think to tell him was in the form of complaining. I’m more creative than that, right?!
Second thing I learned: Complaining has become a form of communication.
Why do we complain?
We have been trained to think that busy = successful. If someone asks us how we are doing, the correct response is always “busy,” right?
Since when did “busy” become a positive thing? It seems the busier we appear, the more important or successful we are. And how do we communicate how busy we are? Complaining. I don’t even think it’s a cry for sympathy. It really does seem to revolve around feeling important and getting attention.
So what to do with all of this?
I’ve made it my goal to take a step back from “busy” and try to relax into the true joy life really is. If someone asks me how my day was and I say it was really great, I notice they don’t really know what to say next. It’s a little awkward because it’s that abnormal.
April is over and I’ve already begun to complain again, but I am going to try my best to resist those moments. I’m not going to lie – it’s tough! But I think these challenges are really opening my eyes to how easy, yet numbing it is to be complacent and how invigorating it is to challenge the norm. As my Grandmother often tells me, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Join me on this one. Next time someone asks how your day is, try not to respond with “busy”. It’s not impressive.
Thanks for reading,