Have you heard of this project, “A Complaint Free World”?
Basically you get a purple silicone bracelet, because how will anyone know you are serious about any cause unless you have a silicone bracelet to prove it. You wear it on one wrist, and every time you complain, you switch the bracelet to your other wrist. When you’ve been able to keep the bracelet on your wrist for 21 days, you have arrived and are officially entered into the “Holier Than Thou Hall of Fame.”
I’d heard of this project before and have wanted to give it a try for a while. The church I was at on Monday calling people about the death penalty thing had a basket of these bracelets. So I came home determined to stop complaining.
Then I realized, I don’t really know what a complaint is.
When you think of someone complaining, you think excessive expressions of negativity and despair as they share their tales of utter and perhaps exaggerated despair. But is that complaining, or is that whining? Is there a difference?
A complaint is any expression of negativity. So if I was to commit to stop complaining, I would no longer make any negative statements. Only rainbows and butterflies would sally forth from me. Which is fairly unrealistic.
Let’s say John were to come home and ask me, “How are you feeling today?”
If I were to say, “Great!” and in fact I had been in a lot of pain that day, I wouldn’t be “not complaining,” I would be lying. Since I have a chronic and painful condition, expressing negativity is sometimes just a fact of life. It turns in to whining when John again comes home and asks me, “How are you feeling today?” and I respond with “Terrible and my life sucks and I hate everything,” then that’s not awesome.
Sometimes I need to talk about things that are less than fantastic. But at the same time I would like to have a more positive outlook on life. I mean, after all:
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul. Proverbs 16:24
And we all know how much I like honey.
Equally good advice:
If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.- Thumper
So maybe I can just agree to stop whining. That way I can still be able to express thoughts that are inherently negative, but temper my desire to expound on those negative feelings.
The problem with that though, is it harder to tell if you are whining than if you are complaining. If you agree to give up complaining, its easy to tell if you are saying something negative or not. Agreeing to give up whining can easily turn into, “Well I wasn’t whining, I was just saying. I mean its true, my professor really is the most terrible professor in the whole wide world and my life really is going down the drain and I’m completely serious when I say I’ll never graduate on time. I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m totally not.”
I don’t want to pretend my life is 100% peachy perfect all the time, and I see no need to put on a pretend front. Life can be hard, let’s just be honest about that. But at the same time, it’s good and I should spend more time appreciating the goodness in life than the bemoaning the hard parts.
Maybe I can make it my own personal rule that if I do have a compelling need to say something negative, I will pair it with something positive.
So what do you think? Should I stop complaining? Have you ever tried to stop?