Scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit, and complaining is habitual for most of us. As Twain said, “We must coax our old behavior down the stairs.”
So what exactly is a complaint? A complaint is any negative description of an event, person, or issue. Gossiping is negative as well, since it is criticizing. If you stick to discussing the facts you will be okay.
“Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up—if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. ‘How dare you serve me cold soup…?’ That’s complaining.”
—Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”
The effect on your thinking will force you to be more aware and precise. It will also allow you to spend more time listening and thinking before speaking. Your health, career and relationships may cause you stress, but complaining about them won’t improve your situation.
“People who do not see their choices do not believe they have choices. They tend to respond automatically, blindly influenced by their circumstances and conditioning. Mindfulness, by helping us notice our impulses before we act, gives us the opportunity to decide whether to act and how to act. “
If you can eliminate complaining, you will experience more happiness.
Establish a Complaint Free Habit
So how long can you go without complaining?
Commit to being positive for 21 days.
Use of a calendar to mark off the days, a 21-day calendar template can be found on GratitudeSeeds.com. You can print this template or create one of your own and post in a place you will see every day.
Link to: 21 Day Calendar Template
To keep you focused here are some guidelines to keep you on the right path:
- Change the words you use from the negative to the positive.
- No Criticizing: find the positive in all situations.
- No Complaining: state facts instead of complaining.
- Gossip only if you would say it if the person were present with the same inflection and same words.
Each day you go without complaining, criticizing or gossiping check off the day on the calendar. If you catch yourself complaining, criticizing or gossiping (it’s ok, everyone does) forgive yourself and start the calendar again. On the 20th day you will want to be very careful!
Stay with it. It may take many months but when you reach 21 days you will find that your entire life is happier, more loving and more enjoyable.
You will find new energy as you complete the exercise and a sense of power to pursue what you really are meant to do.
Accept the challenge. All you have to lose is complaining!