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Stopping the Complaining Habit

11/07/2014 14:23 BST | Updated 09/09/2014 10:59 BST

The A-Z Challenge: C is for Complaining. Shift negative to positive alphabetically.

When it's too hot, we complain, too wet, we complain, too cold, we complain, too windy, we complain. Complain, Complain, Complain... We complain about the weather, life, health, people... We all do it. Complaining comes quite naturally to us, doesn't it? Sometimes we don't even realise we're doing it.

The habit of complaining doesn't always have to be negative. We often use 'complaining' as a social tool to share experiences, create laughter or to take action. Of course, it's important to speak up and express our opinions and suggestions, especially when things are not right because things do matter. So go ahead and make a complaint.

But a complaint is still a negative description that doesn't indicate how to fix the problem. And complaining just wrecks the mood and motivation - ours and others. So if you're not gaining anything positive by complaining and you don't want to come across as a complainer - stop!

Well, if you can't stop immediately, then at least start reducing the whining. Complain less! How? Think before you speak. Ask yourself, is there any benefit in expressing this view point? If you do need to point out something is not right, stick to the facts. Stop the unnecessary complaints and your necessary complaints will be more effective.

Often what works well is something as simple as reframing and rephrasing the complaints into positive comments. Positively rephrasing complaints allows you to focus on what you can do to make things better and finding possible steps to fix the problem. Try it, it will work wonders for you and those who have to listen to you. It will also make situations a little easier, more enjoyable, and develop a positive culture.

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This week make time to note down your regular set of complaints. Then reframe your complaints into something positive. Here are a few examples:

  • Complaining about your daily commute? Make your commute more pleasant. On your way to work, read, listen to music or podcasts or plan for the day ahead. On your way home, review your day. Of course, it also depends on your mode of transport!
  • Have to cook again? Look at it from a different perspective. "I'm really looking forward to trying out this new recipe." See what a difference it makes?
  • Complaining about the weather? Stop. Enjoy the gradations within the heat, cold, wet etc. Then do something to make the situation more bearable. If it's too hot, pour yourself a cold drink and then continue with your tasks!
  • Tired and have to go to work? Have a little grumble but make it positive. "Even though I'm tired, I'm going to accomplish a lot today."
  • Having a rant about your neighbourhood? Why not be a better guardian of your environment? Drop the litter in the bin, print double-sided, use reusable shopping bags, and unplug appliances at the wall when not in use.
  • Had an awful day? Instead of moaning to the unlucky person who happens to be near you, turn awful into 'awe-full.' Change how you feel and share the story with amazement and wonder. It's what most comedians do, right.

What about when someone else is complaining? You can change the subject or try to lighten the mood. You can stay quiet and not say anything. You can step away graciously from the person complaining, without hurting their feelings. You can share something positive to change their perception and feelings. The point is that you don't have to engage in the complaining and add fuel to the negativity. There's always a way to positively influence the person complaining.

There's always a way to find something positive in everything, if you choose to look for it. Simply focus more on the positive and you start to appreciate what is, as it is. Be Positive, Be Appreciative. Appreciate all that life has to offer - the chance to breathe in the fresh air, the roof over your head or the beautiful sunrise, all the little things you take for granted. Foster an attitude of gratitude and appreciate genuinely. You might just be surprised by how much better life is! And you might just discover that there's not much to really complain about. And when you do find something to complain about, you might find yourself turning your complaints into compliments.

Here's The Appreciation Meditation.