16 July, 2009

Grow Up Already

“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie

Article by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead; follow him on twitter.

If we really want to be happy, why do we act like such babies?

We can claim to be proactive in our life by settings goals and going after what we want. But if we’re always whining and complaining all the time, are we really living effectively?

If you don’t believe me, count how many times you complain about something or other in one day. Whether it be being stuck in traffic, being bothered by the weather, not enough mustard on your sandwich, or whatever it is, there are endless instances where you can find a reason to complain.

But it’s not just outside circumstances that we complain about. We complain about about ourselves too. We complain that we don’t have enough time, we don’t have enough money (this one is huge because it’s often “true”), that we’re not smart enough, cool enough, or just enough.

I know I’ve experienced plenty of unpleasantness due to complaining about things I can’t control. I never really thought about it much until I found this website about “living in a complain free world.”

Imagine how much happier you would be if you simply stopped complaining? Much of what you complain about is outside of your control anyway. What’s the point of brooding about something you have no power to change? Not very intelligent, if you ask me.

Simply becoming conscious of how much you complain is the first step to stopping. When you recognize that you’re complaining, stop and take notice of it. Ask yourself if you would rather complain, or be happy.

Are you ready to live a complaint-free, happier life?

The two steps to stop whining so much:

  1. Make it a priority to notice every time you complain or unnecessarily criticize. This includes judging others. Now, every time you catch yourself complaining, just stop and notice it.
  2. After you’ve noticed yourself complaining, ask yourself this: Is there anything I can do about what I’m complaining about, or it outside of my control? If there is something you can do about it, do it. If there is nothing you can do, let it go.

Obviously, this is a little easier said than done. Complaining is an addiction and a hard habit to break. Like any other habit to break, it will take time.

Even though it may be a long time (or possibly never) before you’re living completely complaint-free, that’s still okay. The good news is this isn’t all-or-nothing. Even 10% less complaining will have an immediate positive impact on your life. Then, once you’ve decreased your whining by 10%, you can keep bootstrapping your way down to complaining less and less.

After complaints show up less and less, something awesome starts to happen. Once your mind realizes that you won’t tolerate its moaning, it will begin to give up its efforts. (Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of complaining that you’re complaining.)

So the question is: Would you rather complain or be happy?

(Oh and by the way, having gratitude is a great way to stop complaining.)

This article was written by Zen Habits contributor Jonathan Mead of Illuminated Mind.  For more ways to stop whining so much, grab a copy of Reclaim Your Dreams.

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