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Just stop complaining. Now.

It was a nice trip. We were coming back from one of our favourite places. We had fun. The day was clear and a little by chance we discovered a new, very picturesque way home. The only drawback was the fact that we had to cross the roundabout now and then. And just after one of the roundabouts, I noticed that obstacle. The old VW Golf parked just after the exit. It was quite dangerous. And although it had the hazard lights on, I thought it was completely idiotic. The driver could park on the nearby bus bay, I thought to myself and started to penetrate the stupid obstacle with the fierce eyes to see who was sitting behind the wheel. What I saw chilled my blood.

Behind the wheel, there was a young woman with a small child in her arms. The second child was sitting in the back. She was driving the car alone with two children. She was on the phone, possibly calling for roadside assistance, or calling her husband for advice. The next few minutes, I drove in silence. It was me who was the total idiot. Rather than stop and check on her, I was selfishly cursing the driver who parked in a way that made me a bit less comfortable on the road. What if it was my wife and she was travelling alone with two children?

Wired to complain

We, Poles, but probably we humans in general, seem to be wired in our genes to complain. Already during the first conversations over the morning coffee, the corkscrew begins. “What’s up” – “old bad, old bad”, then it’s always too cold or too hot when it comes to the weather. Next, we make up the sickness we’ve been through over the weekend. And finally, we kill the cat, only to get worse than others.

How to change it? Is it even possible? It turns out that it is. Here is one of the ways.

Let’s re-program ourselves

Will Bowen comes to the rescue. He grew up in a family that was materially well-off but lacked acceptance, understanding and love. Will had to organize a lot of things for himself. He concluded that complaining about everything around him was not good. He noticed that complaining it is just another bad habit that you may have. To change it, you need to approach it strategically – as if you were addicted to it.

First of all, you have to be aware of this “condition”. You have been practising for years, so it is like second nature. Your first task will be to start noticing it.

Second, you have to accept that words reflect thoughts. So you have to look at thoughts and the situations where they arise.

How to stop complaining?

To help us to stop complaining, Will proposed a simple experiment to his church congregation:

Complaint Free Bracelet from Will Bowen
  • He suggested everyone try and break the complaining habit by going 21 days in a row without complaining.
  • Will gave purple rubber bracelets to everyone in attendance, urging them to put the bracelet on either wrist and switch it to the other wrist with every spoken complaint.

Twenty-one days is, of course, symbolic. It takes some time to de-program or, to be more precise, re-program ourselves. It takes about three weeks for our brain to develop a new habit. Of course, the longer, the better. The initial discipline helps to create a custom. A custom turns into a habit over time. And a habit that lasts a long time becomes a part of our character.

When we stop complaining we meet others as they are

I was incredibly lucky to spend a weekend at a music workshop led by Jan Budziaszek, the drummer of a famous Polish band “Skaldowie”. An amazing man. In addition to “music lessons”, he gave us a fantastic testimony of his life. One of the stories captivated me deeply.

You see Piotrek when I say hello to another person – I shake their hand and look deep into this person’s eyes. Because I know it doesn’t matter who it is. A holy or a sinner. A rich or a poor. I know two things for sure. We are equal to God. What does it mean? I know for sure that each of us has our individual vocation. Everyone has a gift, something they are good at, better than everyone else. Better than me. That means that I can learn something from that person. It is a lesson of humility. On the other hand, I also know that I am also gifted with some talent, something special. And I can share it with this person.

I invite you to a small challenge. A challenge to listen to your thoughts, learn to control them and stop complaining about the world around us, and start looking for the good in everything and everyone.

Discipline – custom – habit – character. No matter what happens to us, there is always some good in it.


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