Recently I challenged myself not to complain for an entire week. Naturally, I complain a lot. Rarely about big issues, but more about small ones. I can clearly see how people create blocks in their lives by complaining excessively. They spend all their energy with complaining, but not really with doing something. For some reason, I always thought that my complaining had less negative impact, because I rather complain about the small things in life. But then I started wondering whether those many small complaints might maybe accumulate and block my life energy after all.
So, I put myself on a complaint detox for a week. In case I fell back into my old habit of complaining, I made myself one rule: Whenever I would complain about something, I needed to find a reason why I was also grateful for it. E.g.: “Ooh boy, I really don’t want to bicycle 30 minutes to work! On top of all it’s raining!” becomes “What a great opportunity to get an extra work-out and some fresh air at the same time! Anyways, I am so lucky to live in a country where I can go to work by bicycle. Not all countries are as flat as Holland and have this great bicycle-friendly infrastructure. Ooh and did I mention how happy I am to have a healthy body that enables me to ride my bicycle?” Ok, I guess you get the point. Let’s get started with the results!
# 1 The power of intention
I was surprised how easy it was not to complain. Did suddenly all the things I’d usually complain about disappear? In fact nothing had changed, except for one small thing: I had set an intention. It was amazing to see the power of intention. Automatically, I started complaining less just because I knew I wanted to do so. What a great start!
# 2 Energy saving
Complaining drains energy. A lot of energy! I didn’t notice how much energy I lost due to this habit until I stopped (which, by the way, is true for most habits!). Every time I’d want to complain, I’d ask myself this simple question: Is there something I can do about it right now? If the answer was no, I’d accept the situation.
You might think about what you could do in the future to avoid the situation, but once you’ve got the solution there’s no more unnecessary thinking. No more “what if” thinking of situations where you can’t turn back time anyways. Letting go of these kind of thoughts will make you feel much lighter and more energetic.
# 3 The joy of gratitude
Since I found something to be grateful for in every complaint I had, I started to notice the joy of gratitude. Generally, I am very grateful and especially the past few years I have been grateful for many things in my life. But most of the time these were the big and unexpected things. I didn’t really spent time valuing the small things in life. But I am so happy this experiment made me do so! My mood was so much better, especially on those days I’d normally be grumpy.
# 4 Lasting effects
I am writing this post approximately a month after I challenged myself. And guess what? I generally complain less! After the challenge, I had almost forgotten about it. But I reminded myself again I started to wonder what the “long term” effects were. After I shortly reflected my past few weeks, I wasn’t too surprised to notice that I generally complain less and automatically seek for points of gratitude.
Of course, I still complain once in a while. After more than 30 years of having this habit, it’s not easy to get rid of it 100%. But I am definitely on the right track! Besides, let me not complain about me complaining. Instead, I’ll just be grateful for the fact that my habit has improved.