Have you ever tried going one full day without complaining? It may seem easy, but this challenge is way harder than it seems.
Here’s a fun game: Ask your kids to call you out each time you complain. (If needed, bribe them to lay off when you’re around other people.) Make it to bedtime without giving those kids of yours something to complain about and you win!
This is especially appropriate during Thanksgiving and Christmas—and gives you the chance to model gratitude and contentment to your children.
Or you could just work to curb complaints for the day by trying out some of the ideas below. After all, there are better games to play with your children.
Keep a complaint journal
This is not for you to write out in full detail, with doodles, everything you hate about your day. No, friends. This is more like a plain sheet of paper with tally marks.
At the start of your day, write at the top of the page TIMES I WANTED TO COMPLAIN BUT DIDN’T.
Then as complaints make their way from your brain to your mouth, stop them in their tracks by writing a simple tally mark on the page. Add them up at the end of the day. Try to remember why you were annoyed 12 times on a routine Tuesday.
Control what you can, even if the only thing you manage to change is your attitude.
Ask yourself how you really feel
This is the perfect strategy for autopilot complaints—the ones that sneak up on you and make you sound like a Grinch even when you’re in a good mood. Think of statements like "Ugh! I hate this cold weather," or "If I have to wait in line for 45 minutes to buy this turkey, I’m going to lose it!" or "If I have to sit in this mall traffic for one more minute, we’re just going to forget Christmas gifts this year."
Will you truly not buy gifts this year? Will you really lose it? Do you actually hate the weather?
Of course not. Sometimes it just feels good to complain—that’s understandable. But words are powerful. Ask yourself how you really feel then mean what you say.
Consider where your words are going
For bigger complaints—you know, the ones that are founded and probably need to be addressed—consider where your words are going. Who can hear you complain? Do your words help in any way?
In other words, does the complaint serve to fix the problem or are your words dead on arrival?
Maya Angelou has an excellent tip on complaining. She says, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Don’t sit around talking about what’s bad—do something that makes things better. Control what you can, even if the only thing you manage to change is your attitude.
If you fail the challenge on your first few attempts, don’t be ashamed. You’re in good company. For those of you who managed to make it through an entire day with no griping, see if you can go a week. You won’t have any complaints about the results!