Last year, without realizing it, I had dug myself into a complaint hole. It was a terrible place to get stuck. In this hole, everything was worthy of a complaint. Did the client ask for a change that you disagree with? Complain to a coworker. Was your friend being a little clingy last night at the party you were at? Complain to another friend. Did Apple update the iPhone and add a default app that you don't have any use for, but can't delete? Complain to everyone within earshot!
This negative habit is easy to fall into without realizing it. Especially when surrounded by other complainers. You start thinking that everyone is out to get you; like you're the only one who has it hard. This starts to affect your mood more and more. You assume the role of the victim and expect everyone to tend to your complaints, even if these complaints never actually reach the original source of the issue. Seems pretty counter-intuitive, huh?
Not only are you affecting your own mental state, you're bringing those around you into your vile pool of complainy juice. While it may feel cathartic to complain back and forth with friends, is anyone in the conversation making any real progress on the core issue? Probably not. This is where we need to completely restructure how we confront frustrating challenges. Complaints are lazy paths to avoid finding solutions.
Become Better Than a Complaint
When an issue comes up, we have two options. We can immediately get on the defensive and spew out reasons why this isn't fair, efficient, and just, or we can take a deep breath, think about the issue, and formulate a course of action to tackle the problem. In doing so, you'll not only feel better through the whole process, your problem-solving skills will grow. Let's look at an example:
You work all day on a project and send it out to clients for review. An hour later, you get the feedback. One of main items on the list is something you had suggested at the beginning of the project, but the clients shot it down at the time. Here's what you could say to your coworker:
"See?! If the client would have just listened to me, we would already be done with all of this! Sometimes they're just so ignorant. Gah! Fucking clients..."
Ahh yes. Nothing like a post-feedback complaint. But what does that accomplish? Just letting off a little steam? I'm sure your coworkers love hearing all about it. But what if you approached the feedback in a completely positive light?
"The client chose to use the idea I had all along. It would have saved us some time if they went with it to begin with, but at least my idea is still seeing the light. Maybe I should be the client instead! Haha. Next time I could push my idea harder and offer them more justification for why it's a solid plan."
As you can very clearly see, the second response addresses the problem in a constructive way. We describe the drawback of the situation, but still make light of it while adding possible solutions to the table. From here, we have the opportunity to take these thoughts and apply them to future scenarios.
Life with Positivity
Once I got out of my negative habit, my life made a significant shift for the better. All of a sudden I had more energy and motivation. Because I was now looking for solutions, I found myself reaching even further to find optimizations and efficiencies beyond the initial challenge. And if I was still in that complaint hole, The Minimal Minute would never have been born.
I can also tell my friends and coworkers noticed a difference. While I was in that negative slump, people would give me more distance than usual. They didn't want to hear about this complaint or that.
My Challenge to You
Take a moment and think about your conversations with others, especially coworkers. How many of those conversations include a complaint? 20%? 80%? I wouldn't be surprised if nearly half your conversations include some sort of negative discussion without mention of possible solutions. So stop it! For the next 30 days, try not to complain once. Instead, find solutions. If you want to take this seriously, get a bracelet and put it on. Every time you complain, switch arms and start the countdown back at zero. Continue this until you reach the full 30 days. By then, you probably won't even need the bracelet.
Bonus points: stop with the profanity! As powerful as it feels to throw around offensive language, it's not especially impressive or constructive. By avoiding these words, you'll be forced to use language that better expresses your valuable thoughts.