You hear all the time about the power of positive thinking, it’s the stuff of countless “inspirational” quotes cluttering Pinterest boards more that crockpot recipes and wedding hair-dos. And while the “when life gives you lemons” platitudes sound good, how much do any of us really believe them?
I’m a life-long hardcore pessimist, I can dependably see how something might (and probably will) turn out for the worst. And like most people I’m hardest on myself, I could give you a long list of my shortcomings.
It’s not that I want to see the dark side of life, it is in a way a defense mechanism. By preparing for the worst, I’m trying to guard my heart so that if something turns out good I’m pleasantly surprised and if it doesn’t well–that’s what I expected anyways.
And I’m not alone (especially in New York) finding what’s wrong with any given situation is almost effortless. Complaining is as natural as breathing–it’s one of the very first things we do when we are born–cry and scream and complain.
Complaining is just easier than finding the good: “It’s easy to be heavy, it’s hard to be light.”
(see my post on this from two years ago: Hard to Be Light)
But what if there’s something to all this positive thinking talk? Could changing your life be as simple as just changing your attitude? Well…no probably not. But looking for the bright side in situations, assuming the best. And trying, really trying, not to complain could bring a sea change to your day-to-day.
So, after reading this article about five reasons why you should go on a complaint-free diet (it will make you smarter, have more energy, and improve your relationships, for starters), I decided to give myself a complaint audit for one day this week. My total:16. I squeezed four were before I left for work a 8:30am. I only counted verbal (or electronic) complaints, not the ones I silently made to myself (which I did quite frequently because as I was consciously trying not to complain to other people the complaints would rack up and repeat in my head).
I’m not sure if 16 complaints in one day is a lot of not. Being conscious of it certainly reined it in. The other sad thing I noticed is that (probably unsurprisingly) my poor loving husband bore the brunt of hearing my complaints– so there probably is truth to that whole “improve your relationships” thing.
The other element is how much other people complain–how social complaining is: gossiping, commiserating. How will I communicate with others if I can’t complain with them?
Well, we’ll see. Starting tomorrow when I wake up: I’m quitting complaining cold turkey–verbally, electronically, and mentally. We’ll see how long I last and I’ll report back to you with a smile (hopefully).