Quit Your Whining

Written by Scott Schimmel

A friend told me recently about a book called, A Complaint Free World. It's one of those books that you don't need to read the whole thing to get the concept- complaining does a lot more harm than it does good. Growing up, complaining, criticizing and whining were so normal to me, and I used to be proud of it. Now, I'm wondering if I could become a complaint-free person, and what impact that might have on my soul, my family, and the people I interact with.

Before I thought about how to work it out of my nature, I've been thinking about what complaining does, for better and worse:

1. Complaining helps me fit in. Have you tried to have lunch with your classmates or co-workers, without joining in the complaint session? Pick your topic- the homework assignment, the new boss, the new expense reporting system, the parking, etc? We connect with each other through complaining, but isn't there a better way to connect? When I join in complaining it's safe to say that I'm being influenced more than I'm influencing...

2. Complaining sours my day, and everyone around me. Think about it, every time you complain, it turns your focus on the negative. What does that do to your stress, your health, your joy?

3. Complaining breaks trust. When I hear other people complain about someone else, I take mental note that at some point they very likely will complain about me.

Have you ever noticed that complaining is infectious? I've been around complainers who complain about anything and everything- and in just a split-second I'm doing the same thing. I don't even notice that I've gone down the complaining track, it just happens.

I wonder if the reverse could also be true? What if we choose not to participate in complaining about the boss, the professor, the teammate, the parking, the traffic, the weather, the Chargers. What if, instead of joining in, we actually point out the positive? It might feel a little awkward to shift the tone so distinctly, but would a little awkwardness be worth it? Can that have the same effect on other people and give them more joy and gratitude, too?

It reminds me of something E.M. Bounds wrote, a lawyer and Army Chaplain during the Civil War:
"Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time. An unappreciative spirit has no standing beside gratitude and praise."

So, it makes a lot of sense to avoid complaining. But, it's not just that avoiding complaining is a good idea and will produce more effective and productive conversations. I'm thinking about how we can become people who wouldn't complain at all. I'm on the journey to try to break my complaining habit. I really am interested in becoming the kind of person that is set free from complaining in general.

Why do you complain? What do you complain about? What would change if you spent more time expressing gratitude than whining?