Do you enjoy being around people who always complain? Are complainers who you gravitate toward? The New Testament says, “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Constant complaining accomplishes just the opposite. It successfully finds fault with everything and everyone. A good complainer will communicate the 1% wrong, not the 99% that is good. That is a choice.
I heard a preacher once say, “I can receive 99 complements and one complaint. When I go home for lunch, guess what I remember? That’s right the one complaint.” It overshadows everything else. Negativism is a wet blanket that quickly smothers the fire and warmth of joy! Who desires to be a joy killer?
Fear of becoming a complainer, however, should not lead anyone to never share where they are struggling or hurting. There are appropriate times, places, and people to share problems and hurts with. The lack of appropriate sharing of hurts and frustrations keeps relationships at a shallow level and prevents those willing to listen or lend aid from receiving the blessing that comes from giving of time and talents. Sharing hurts and helps develops trust and deepens relationships. Not sharing can communicate aloofness and arrogance.
Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up — if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. “How dare you serve me cold soup …?” That’s complaining.
Complainers talk about how bad they are treated, how bad they feel, how they have been misunderstood, etc. They are me centered, negative and devoid of hope for anything better.
Complaining may be the symptom of a deeper problem or need. Explore the possibility. If there is a genuine cause seek help from a trusted family member, doctor, counselor, or spiritual friend.
If research reveals it is a habit, this is the time of year to leave it behind and replace it with thankfulness. Why not challenge yourself to go twenty-one days without complaining. Start over when you fail.
Will Bowen proposes that word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. If you can eliminate complaining, you will experience more happiness.
Instead of complaining, be thankful. Here are some suggestions.
- For the wife who says it’s hot dogs tonight because she’s home with me and not out with someone else.
- For the husband who is on the sofa being a couch potato because he’s home with me and not out at the bars.
- For the teenager who’s complaining about doing dishes because it means she’s at home, not on the streets.
- For the taxes I pay because it means I’m employed.
- For the mess to clean up after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.
- For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
- For all the complaining I hear about the government because it means we have freedom of speech.
- For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I’m capable of walking and I have been blessed with transportation.
- For the woman behind me in church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
- For the pile of laundry and ironing because it means I have clothes to wear.
- For the alarm that goes off in the early-morning hours because it means I’m alive.
Just don’t complain. It helps no one including oneself. Thinking of at least three things to be grateful for at the end of each day, now that brings personal joy and sunshine to those around you.