One of the things that’s pretty easy to notice about really unhappy people is that they complain a lot. There always seems to be something wrong with their lives or with the world that they just need you to know about. They are frequently annoyed by all sorts of things and they’ll let you know if you happen to be the one who is annoying them at the moment or is not somehow meeting their expectations.
But which came first- the unhappiness or the complaining? I believe the complaining. Complaining actually makes us unhappy. Why? Because it puts us out of alignment with the truth and the truth is that there really is nothing to complain about and so much to be grateful for. When we are out of alignment with the truth, our emotions serve as feedback trying to warn us that we’re out of alignment. We feel down, unhappy, bad, negative.
I invite you to go on a complaining fast. Of all the fasts I’ve ever tried- It’s the most beneficial fast you could ever go on. Start with just one hour– see if you can go one hour without complaining. You may still have habitual complaining thoughts- but stop those thoughts from taking form in words and avert your attention to a more grateful thought. Once you can go an hour, go for a day, then a week, then a month- then just make it how you live your life. Commit to being a non-complainer- that’s just who you are now- a non-complainer. If we’re to meet 6 or 12 months from now, you’re still going to be a non-complainer. If you’ve developed a habit of complaining a lot, this will take some will power at first, but it will become easier as you go. Once you’ve mastered not putting complaining thoughts into words, it will become easier to not even have the complaining thoughts to begin with- or to quickly turning the focus of your attention to being grateful instead.
You might want to make it a family competition where you issue a challenge to see who can go the longest without complaining and you all keep each other honest by pointing out when another person complains. I did this with my family and it became a fun game. As soon as someone complained- they instantly started laughing because they realized they broke their fast. Then they started over with new resolve. It quickly improved the energy in our home and improved the quality of our road trip vacations.
Here’s a small poem from one of my favorite poets that I like to remember whenever I feel like complaining about something or being negative about something:
“O wondrous creatures
By what strange miracle
Do you so often
Not smile?” — Hafiz
Questions to Ponder
- How often do I complain?
- Can I see how complaining makes me unhappy- not the other way around?