So today is No Complaining Wednesday, according to some group on Facebook. I guess the idea is to try and be more positive before the day we are supposed to be the most thankful all year. (Thanksgiving is tomorrow, in case you've been in a coma for a while.)
I have really not thought much about it today, although I did plan to avoid complaints if at all possible. Now, the thing that is important to remember (and I just learned this through that book I'm reading) is exactly what complaining is. Let me share James MacDonald's definition.
"Complaining is expressing dissatisfaction with a circumstance that is not wrong and about which I’m doing nothing to correct." So, when we ask a waitress to fix our food that was made incorrectly, that is not complaining. Or if we reach out to a friend with whom we have had a disagreement and want to discuss behaviors that might be rude or unkind, that is not complaining.
Complaining is saying you are unhappy about the way things are but are doing nothing to fix it. For example... when you drive in to work and get stuck in construction, how do you react? Are you the one who beeps your horn and yells at the guys (who are just doing their jobs, btw) about what an inconvenience they have created? Because, there is actually nothing wrong with that situation... they are just doing what they have been paid to do. The situation is an inconvenience, but not an outrage. Relax. Breathe.
"Why did people re-elect that man? He's gonna turn us all Muslim and our freedoms are gonna go out the window!"
"What do you mean they stopped making Twinkies??? Those are my favorite!"
"That man is late again! Every time I try to make plans, he is at least 20 minutes late! Why do I even bother?"
"Did you see the menu for next month's lunches? I can't believe they expect us to pay $2.25 for that swill!"
"You forgot to buy the cranberry sauce?!?! Our Thanksgiving dinner is ruined!"
These are just some examples. I know you have heard much, much worse. The people who complain when the sun shines, or the clouds block the sun, or it's raining or it's snowing or it's clear. Then there are those who complain about doing the dishes or having to cook dinner (Again!) or have to go to the store to buy toilet paper.
Complaining... it's contagious too. If you have not noticed how other people's attitudes can be catching, you have got to start paying attention! Is there someone in your life (mother-in-law, boss, neighbor, relative) who is always negative about everything??? You know what I mean... the Debbie Downers of the world.
I have noticed this about myself. If someone I care about is having a bad day, I struggle to keep that from pulling me down, too. Also, I have to work really hard to not bring work negativity home. My kids do not need to feel the nonsense I deal with at work just because I can't shake the dark cloud I feel.
The day is about half over, and I am trying to take an honest look at my own attitude so far. Have I complained?
Well, I did get upset with someone early this morning, but was I complaining or was I simply expressing feelings about a situation that was not right? I'm still deciding...
When someone emailed me with a complaining attitude about a work attitude, I did not repeat it or confirm it. I simply acknowledged the situation that was causing their distress and then moved on. (yay me)
Finally, I have been trying to limit my time on Facebook to very short bursts.... I find that extended exposure to some of the nonsense on there can turn my mood sour faster than anything else. So, I have jumped on a few times to make some positive posts and to add some fun, upbeat pictures. Then I have made a hasty retreat!
Please, if you see me complaining, would you kindly (emphasis on kindly) remind me of my goal? Sometimes I think I am oblivious to my own behavior.
Now the thing that we are supposed to do is replace our complaining attitude with feelings of thankfulness. How appropriate, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving!!!
Try this. The next time you feel yourself brewing a complaint, try to turn it around...
"Why did people re-elect that man? He's gonna turn us all Muslim and our freedoms are gonna go out the window!" I am thankful to live in a country where we have the opportunity to vote for the candidates running for office.
"What do you mean they stopped making Twinkies??? Those are my favorite!" I am thankful for access to a variety of sweets and treats at my grocery store and local bakery.
"That man is late again! Every time I try to make plans, he is at least 20 minutes late! Why do I even bother?" I am thankful for a husband who wants to go on date nights when he is so busy.
"Did you see the menu for next month's lunches? I can't believe they expect us to pay $2.25 for that swill!" I am thankful for a cafeteria that prepares nutritious meals when I might night feel like packing a lunch.
"You forgot to buy the cranberry sauce?!?! Our Thanksgiving dinner is ruined!" I am thankful that you are able to join us on this day and celebrate with us.
Every little thing that starts to creep onto your last nerve really can be turned around. Sometimes it takes a LOT of effort, but it is possible. So I challenge you to stop your complaining, not just today, but everyday. Try to see the positive side of situations. And if there is something that is truly wrong or unjust, do something to make a change. Otherwise, you're just making a lot of noise and killing my joy!