I recently wrote about living in a culture encouraging constant discontent. Ensuing conversations with readers were filled with great ideas on how to weed out discontent from our lives. Many were aiming to become content individuals who worked hard to constantly better themselves, their condition, and the well-being of those around them. Most agreed that working for improvement out of a sense of excellence breeds joy and fulfillment instead of discontent.
I decided to start weeding out discontent from my writing as well, which led to the rather hilarious editing of this post. Discontent is a sneaky little thing that makes its way into places you least expect. The weeding is going to have to be even more thorough that expected, making these tools are the more useful.
No Complaining Contract
Committing to not complaining is actually a lot of fun and its results are surprising. While still aware and acknowledging the negative, stating it as a fact—“I can’t make it because of a headache” or “I’m late because of traffic”—helps us feel less defined by the bad things happening to us and more by the actions we take to deal with them, leaving us feeling more in control of our lives and happier.
Of course I would suggest the use of mantras! I might have written about them once. Or twice. Or thrice. Or more… Because they really are a practical and easy way to achieve difficult personal development objectives. When the urge to complain strikes, replacing it with a well-chosen mantra can work wonders. This prayer, especially the line “I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of live”, has helped quite a few people in my life in this particular struggle.
And of course I would also suggest journaling! But with an important caveat, discussed in a previous post: journaling can easily be a source of contentment as much as it can be one of discontent. This might mean that we might be better off focusing the bulk of our journaling on what we are currently doing. Of course our present will be enriched by an awareness of the past and how we got to that point in the first place. Furthermore, our future will look even brighter as we are aware of the consequences of what we choose to do in the present.
Weeding out discontent from journaling could be as simple as going over one’s entries highlighting the discontented portions, striking them out, and replacing them with a positive spin. Guided journaling can also help. For example, starting with a prayer, some meditation, reminding oneself of one’s commitment to contentment with a mantra, then writing a list of three positive things that happened that day, and a list of three things we aim to improve the next day, has proven a great formula for many readers of this blog.
Seek Out Fellow Non Complainers
All Sahar’s Blog readers who started a non-complaining campaign noticed how initially, that they suddenly have a lot less to contribute to a conversation. On the one hand, it might have to do with the fact that so much of the conversations around them are about complaining. On the other hand, it might have to do with the fact that complaining can be a form of social glue that connects people. Both these factors might initially make it difficult to stop complaining alone without feeling isolated. Seeking out a couple of friends to become fellow non-complainers offers indispensable help.
Limit Complaining Exposure
The biological stress of complaining is felt not just by the complainer, but also by the listener. And it is a well-known fact that trying to undo a pattern of thought is much more difficult to do with constant exposure. Try hanging our less with heavy complainers. When in a social setting, heavy complaining sets in and attempts to divert the conversation fail, take a bathroom break. And don’t consume media that underlines reasons, some legitimate, others not, for complaining, including beauty and home décor magazines.
Build Up Your Gratitude Muscle
The more grateful you are about what you have, the less you will find yourself complaining about them. When you identify something that bothers you, acknowledge it, and then associate it with something positive. A recent one that made me smile, as it was said through a haze of sneezes, is my friend’s heartfelt: “My allergies are really bad, but at least it means its spring and the flowers are gorgeous.” Similarly, feeling burdened by errands and chores can prime us for complaining, but acknowledging the bounties behind them really helps. Instead of “I have to vacuum the house”, one can say “I have a house that I get to vacuum.”
Read More about Not Complaining
Books such as The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work can come in quite handy in understanding why we complain and developing personalised techniques to remove it from our lives.
There are a lot of more ways to stop complaining. What are some of your techniques?
Image credit: Chad Mauger.