Alright kids…we’re about to pull the trigger on this No Complaint Challenge. I’ve been getting my head around what I’m looking to get out of it for myself, and wanted to share one more piece that could be helpful to you as you do the same. It’s a solid 2015 Fast Company piece that looks at the concept of a No Complaint Challenge, the pros and cons, and a few ideas on how to approach it.
Here’s the link:
If you don’t have time to read it, here’s the gist and some additional thoughts:
One of the people interviewed was asked why she was doing it, and she said she “wanted to be more self aware and mindful of what she was putting out there”.
Self-awareness is a SKILL that we can all stand to sharpen. Paying attention to the manner in which you move throughout your day, and the impact your words and vibe have on others, is a powerful exercise. We all get so wrapped up in our own interests that we can forget to spend any time here.
For me, that’s a big part of this challenge. But an even BIGGER motive is selfish. What about the idea of “creating a more positive life by eliminating negative statements”? Or literally changing the composition of my brain for the better?
This will not be perfect, nor is it a panacea for your problems. It’s self-directed, self-policed, and there is no prize. But I guarantee that if you see it through, you will see real and positive changes. That’s the hope I have for my experience.
And if you are not participating? Good – that is ALSO a self-aware move. This isn’t for everyone, and you should be 100% committed to this. This won’t be easy, so no need to waste your time if you’re not into it. February’s challenge might be of more interest (and no worries…both challenges intertwine so for those doing this one, you can 100% do both with low maintenance).
A few other things that stood out from this article for me:
* Discussion on WHY we complain – “Nothing unites people more strongly than a common dislike”
* Evolution has primed us for complaining – The more we look at something that can hurt/kill us, the more we are programmed to guard against it. Hence our inclination to complain
* Second hand smoke – When we complain OR hear OTHERS complain, our brains release stress hormones that can harm neural connections
An interesting question in the article: is this kind of challenge set up to fail? Things we do habitually are hard to give up…so will this be impossible to do?
Nope. It just depends on the expectations going in. Here are four tips to make it through:
1) Define what a complaint is
We have set the parameters (see previous post). To elaborate…an observation is not a complaint. “It’s cold outside” isn’t a complaint. “It’s always cold here, I hate living in this place” IS a complaint. Similar to when Supreme Court Justice Stewart opined about hardcore pornography in a 1964 hearing, stating “I can’t define it…but I know it when I see it”, you most likely know when you’re complaining. For the purposes of this challenge, use the parameters for what a complaint is, and use your common sense. You know the spirit of this exercise. Be honest with yourself, and don’t cut corners. If you complain, call yourself on it and start from day zero.
2) Separate yourself from chronic complainers
If nothing else, this exercise will probably highlight the complaining that those around you participate in. Do you have repeat offenders? And how are you responding? It’s difficult to not chime in for that “shared” negativity. See how you do with it…and if there are a few frequent fliers…perhaps some distance between you would be good.
3) Turn complaints into solutions
For me, this is the punchline for the whole challenge. We all find ourselves in situations that annoy us. The question is, what will we DO in that moment? Stew in the problem? Or do something about it. And if nothing can be done? Adjust your frame of reference to something either neutral or positive
4) Change “have to” to “get to”
The word “gratitude” is all you need to know here. Practicing gratitude truly eliminates complaining. “I have to pick the kids up” turns into “I GET to pick the kids up”. “I have to do 150 wall balls today” turns into “I GET to do wall balls, and am incredibly lucky to be physically able to even do so”.
Too corny? Again…that’s fine too. But practicing different levels of gratitude can truly be incredibly effective…and it works.
There you have it. I hope this challenge proves to be time and energy well-spent for each of you.