“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”
– Lillie Tomlin
Want an “easy” challenge that will improve your life and your communication?
Go 21 days without saying a complaint. You can think a complaint, but if you voice it, you re-start the 21 day clock over again.
Why 21 days? Psychologists say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
We usually think of ourselves as non-complainers. However, the average person complains 15 to 30 times a day without even being aware of it.
In reality, to stop complaining takes, on the average, 4 to 8 months (can you do better?) .
What is a complaint?
It is defined as the expression of grief, pain or discontent. There are times when it is appropriate to express those feelings. But, 30 times a day?
The point is to speak neutral, true facts directly and only to a person who can affect the change that you seek.
Telling your friend the soup was served cold is a complaint. The friend can’t correct that. Telling the waiter the neutral, true fact that “the soup was cold” can correct the short-coming. Saying to the waiter “How dare you bring me cold soup?” will create an entirely different interaction.
Telling your friend what terrible things your partner has done is complaining. Telling your partner how you feel and what specifically they did that bothered you in a factual, neutral way, and what you want them to do instead in the future – isn’t complaining – it’s communicating.
Our Lives are created by our thoughts. Our words indicate what we are thinking.
You cannot complain your way to health, happiness and success.
Complaining keeps us focused on the problem and not the solution.
Why do we complain?
People complain for several reasons including:
- to get attention
- avoid action
- to pre-excuse poor performance
- to brag
- to control others
The mouth says what brain thinks. The brain is the manufacturer and you and your mouth are the consumer.
If the brain is complaining, but you stop saying the complaints i.e. the customer stops buying the product, then the Brain retools with a different product and begins to think more useful thoughts. Another sage said that our thoughts become our words. Our words become our actions. And our actions become our lives.
So, what should the goal be?
The goal is to name what it is you want in your life and focus on what is good in your life. That will draw what you want to you.
I tried the No Complaint challenge and was surprised how many months it took me to accomplish it. I also became very attuned to the amount of complaining that goes on pretty universally.
This program can not only change an individual, but it can also change a family, a work environment and even a national environment ( the Complaint Free World people are shooting for a world environment change – talk about “going big”.). When people don’t support complaining by not giving complainers their time and attention, then complainers start to feel awkward and they either recognize that they are complaining, or they move out and on. Again, this isn’t not telling the truth, but it is telling the factual, neutral truth only to the person who can do something about the subject.
To learn more about the challenge, here’s the web site and the book detailing the challenge: