Constant complaint is the poorest sort of pay for all the comforts we enjoy.
On Friday last week I hit the 21 day mark without complaining, criticizing, or gossiping. Going 21 days without vocalizing any of these three would be easy, right? It took me almost 3 months before I was able to complete the task.
Now that this is complete, here’s what I discovered along the way.
- Complaints are everywhere about everything. Everywhere I went there were things to complain about, and often people were doing just that. It seems that many people are not happy with their life.
- What exactly is a complaint? This question was the source of a lot of comical discussions with my wife and other friends. There were many times spent calling each other out for a statement or comment. After all the discussions, we finally came up with this definition; a complaint is going beyond a discussion of facts to the point of talking about something with someone uninvolved and in most case unable to be involved. I heard a great comment about complaining, it’s like sitting in a rocking chair, it feels good and you think you are getting something done, but you don’t end up going anywhere.
- Offer suggestions. While this may seem like a bit of a loop hole, offering a suggestion after discussing the facts of something is a way to keep from complaining. It is also a hard thing to do. Doing so means you are taking responsibility for your role in the issue. When you get down to the core of the problem, you most likely played a role in its creation. Step up and take charge of your part. It will resolve things much faster.
- Criticizing is too easy. I have a fairly sarcastic attitude and nature. Many times, this was a veiled way to criticize. It kept me from speaking truthfully about things. It also was the number one reason I had to start over so many times during this experiment.
- Gossip harms everyone. Most people seem fascinated with the lives of others. Don’t believe me? Look through your TV guide and count up the number of news magazine shows, talk shows, reality shows and otherwise useless shows. Rather than being concerned about watching other people live and discussing whatever they are doing, live your own life. Follow some of your dreams. Live on purpose.
- Take action. This is the answer to many things in life. Fear, doubt, worry. It also applies to complaining. Rather than complaining about something, do something about it. Address the issue with the person involved. Seek to resolve the problem. Stand up and tell them what you think in a constructive manner. It is how we can take charge of our life.
So what’s next? I have kicked around the idea of trying this again only this time as a couple. When one of us falls, we both start over. My wife’s response to this: you’ll spend all your time complaining about me since I can’t ever seem to get past day one (sorry honey for throwing you under the bus).
Another idea is a 21 day service to others experiment. The premise is the same only this time some act of service must be done for someone else for 21 days in a row. This has the potential for some interesting discussion as well. Is it service to someone else if we are really doing it for the response we get in return? Are there really any true acts of service, no strings attached?
If you have any ideas on what to try next, please share them in the comments section below. If you have yet to attempt the 21 day complaint free marriage experiment, I encourage you to try it. It’s worth the effort and you will notice a difference in your thoughts and attitudes throughout the process.