Yesterday morning as I headed to Starbucks, I was listening to the radio. I was actually listening to my favorite morning radio show called The Bert Show. On the show this particular morning, one of the radio hosts was discussing a challenge she had recently taken upon herself, which was to not complain for 24 hours. Complaining within this challenge meant not complaining aloud or in your head. Rather than focusing on the negatives in the day, she would choose to find the positives.
And of course, I thought this was a great idea! I believed that it wouldn’t be too difficult. I like to think of myself as a generally positive person, so I thought it could easily be done. I’m laughing at my past self as I write that because it definitely was not easy.
Within one hour of accepting the challenge, I went on a five-minute rant about how people still use straws at Starbucks even though they have changed their lids to a style which does not require straws. And when I say this tangent lasted for five minutes, I’m not exaggerating. I kept going on and on about it to a point that I’m sure my fiance was wishing I would just stop talking.
That’s when I realized that I had been complaining. And not only had I been complaining, but I had been doing it for far longer than I needed to. I complained long enough that it became annoying to another human being — a human being who loves me dearly.
And therein lies the problem with complaining, friend. We complain about things, even simple things, all the time. But the truth is that no one wants to hear that. People get tired of hearing negativity. So, not only does complaining bring us down and make it harder for our brains to find the positive things, but it also drags others down with us.
After I caught myself complaining, I swore I would do better. But as I continued throughout the day, I continuously found myself complaining. To make a long story short, I failed at this challenge.
As a person who believed that she was a positive person, it was crushing to recognize that I actually am not. It was difficult to accept the fact that I am, indeed, a complainer. I do not desire to be that person. I desire to be a person who spins negatives into a positive, a person who seeks the beauty in all things. However, this challenge proved that I am not quite there yet.
But that’s okay.
It’s okay if you aren’t that person yet. It is okay if you find yourself complaining during the day. The important thing, though, is that when you catch yourself complaining or being negative, you try to correct the behavior and thoughts. We may not be completely positive people at the moment, but as long as we strive each day to better ourselves, I believe that we are doing just fine.
Since this was something that I hadn’t noticed within myself prior to this challenge, I am making it a goal to be more vigilant of what I am thinking and discussing.
With this new knowledge, I have created a few tips to help this process of gravitating from being a complainer into a more positive person.
Tip #1: Accept that you complained.
When trying to succeed in anything new, we must offer ourselves a bit of grace. We cannot go into a challenge or try to achieve a goal with the expectation that we will not fail. Inevitably, you will make a mistake. And that’s okay! It is okay if you slip up. The entire reason you are challenging yourself is because you aren’t where you would like to be. So, if you mess up accept that it happened and offer yourself a little grace.
Tip #2: Immediately replace the negative with a positive.
As I drove home last night I complained about other drivers on the road. However, when I caught myself doing this, I reminded myself that at least I had a vehicle to take me to and from work and that I was blessed enough to have gas in my car.
So, if you do find yourself complaining, accept that it happened and then replace that complaint with something positive. Begin training your brain to find the positives within something negative.
Tip #3: Remind yourself that everything is doing the best that they can.
You might roll your eyes at that one, but it’s true. Everyone is trying to survive and provide (why yes, I did just create a rhyme). People do not intentionally (usually,anyways) mean to offend you — sometimes it just happens. And reminding yourself that the person who cut you off in traffic or the person who gave you an odd look is simply doing the best that they can in that moment is incredibly helpful in keeping you from complaining.
Remember that everyone is fighting something that you know nothing about. So, where you would offer yourself grace, offer others grace as well.
Tip #4: Keep trying.
Even if you mess up six hundred times, keep trying. Like I mentioned previously, we are doing just fine as long as we keep trying to better ourselves. Do not give up simply because you mess up. Keep giving it your all! And I know that if you keep pushing yourself, you will see results.
So, now I have a question: Are you up for the challenge to stop complaining and begin seeking the positives?