“When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation, change the situation, or accept it. All else is madness.”
— Eckhart Tolle
Today we will learn how to stop complaining and make the choice of being grateful instead.
Let’s begin by understanding why we complain. According to Dr. Guy Winch, writer of ‘The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships, and Enhance Self-Esteem’ - “We complain when we feel there is a significant gap between an expectation and reality.”
The root of complaining is wanting the truth to be something different. And, that is not wrong by any means. When there is a need for change in policies, in behaviors, in relationships, in the status quo, we must speak up and take action. This is imperative for our society.
However, when we complain, there is rarely any action. It’s just a waste of energy.
Some complaining might lead to bonding as we share mutual dissatisfaction with another person and vent our feelings together, but that too must be controlled and not form the foundation of a friendship.
I’m glad that you want to work on this because it’s going to bring such an important change in your personality making room for joy and peace.
Let’s now learn about the 5 main pillars of how to stop complaining:
Gratitude is, in practice, the antonym of complaining. It is a transition where we choose to look at what we can appreciate and feel blessed for instead of what is wrong. It is a simple life-altering choice.
While working on The Attitude of Gratitude Course, I thought over the topic ‘how to stop complaining’ deeply. Let me share an excerpt from the lesson Overcoming Obstacles where I talk about this:
“One obstacle that we often face - is that we complain or have difficulty removing our focus from whatever is wrong instead of the many things that are going okay.
This stems from negativity bias which not only registers negativity more but also makes us dwell upon it. One thing that the realization of this makes me think about is that I’ve called my brain’s bluff, now that I know what it is doing. It isn’t controlling me as dominantly now.
And, another helpful way is to understand why this exists. Let’s go back to our origins. The negativity bias back then helped us survive. Being on the lookout for all potential dangers was what was most important.
However now, we need to let our brain know that it’s okay. To know that life is an experience constituted by countless others and whenever something wrong happens there’s some good apart from it too.”
When we shift our focus from what we want or what could be and choose to appreciate what we have, gratitude walks in smiling. Remember that we wanted many of the things that we have now.
We have all been blessed with so much. We need to open up our eyes to that. There will always be something more, something else. So, we must cherish what is.
😇 Related: Gratitude - The One Thing We All Need
The second pillar of how to stop complaining is to bring acceptance. This effectively means choosing your battles. There can be so many things that are not working the way we want them to.
It can be the way someone drives, talks, or behaves, or who another country’s leader is. What can we change in a meaningful way, and what is worth changing? When what we are complaining about is out of our control and something that is better to be accepted and let go of, let’s do that.
Another great example is the past. So many of us hold on to regrets or embarrassing moments or what someone said or did to us. But, the time has passed and now nothing can change.
What is the healthier choice? Staying stuck with what was and cannot possibly be altered, or accepting it, moving on, and using our energy for meaningful endeavors? You know the answer.
Of course, sometimes, we do have the capacity to act and bring change. So, in those moments we must substitute complaining for thoughtful action.
There is so much wrong with the world, right? Oh, there’s a lot of corruption in this country! People are so mean. Human beings have ruined the planet. And the list goes on…
Yes, there are problems. But, complaining about them is not the solution.
I often think about the slogan - Think Global, Act Local. What can you do to make it better? Don’t worry about the scale of change. Only think if it is a step in the right direction. One person can never fix the world, but all of us together can.
Similarly, if someone has been disrespectful, suddenly changed their behavior or anything else that is troubling us and so we talk at length about them, let’s do something.
If having a conversation with them is a wise option where you share what their actions have made you feel and what you want them to do, or if there is some other way to overcome it or get closure, go ahead. But, if not, remember our second point and choose to accept and move on.
This awareness is essential. We don’t know when will be our last day, nor do we know when it is the last time that we see or talk to somebody. Life is so unpredictable.
There are so many people who regret never having the chance to say goodbye or tell someone that they loved them one last time.
We are so caught up in the minuscule inconveniences or annoyance over what doesn’t matter that we forget. We forget that it’s so lucky to be alive, so lucky to have friends, people we care for.
We hold on to arguments, to little mistakes that we should let go of and stop complaining about. The people who love us have done a lot for us and matter so much more than those tiny complaints.
Let’s be aware of how fortunate we are to be here and focus on what truly matters in our lives.
🌸 Related: 6 Simple Ways to Live a Simple Life
I read something beautiful recently and I think it fits well here:
- Your job is the dream of the unemployed
- Your house is the dream of the homeless
- Your smile is the dream of the depressed
- Your health is the dream of those who are sick”
There are so many people who have much less than they deserve. There are people in this world who are dealing with poverty, hunger, homelessness, loss of loved ones, lack of basic freedom, no clean water, power cuts, and so much more.
Let’s think about these people and humble ourselves. We complain about not having what we want, or not having it the perfect way, but think of those who have so little that our lives look like a luxury to them.
Instead of being dissatisfied over things that are already good enough, let’s help others, let’s support them, in whatever way we can.
Let’s be grateful for the infinite little blessings in our lives, the fact that we have food, a home, clean water, a bed to sleep on, clothes, access to education, and a lot more.
And, that’s it! These were the five main pillars of how to stop complaining and live gratefully. I hope you found them helpful.
Share this with the people you care about and bring more gratitude to their lives. Take care :)
🌳 Continue Reading 40 Things to Be Grateful For Today