Day 16 of 30 - No Complaining

No complaining can feel fake. I complain to get empathy. This social skill that I've strengthened and perfected over the last thirty years is no longer available. This isn't easy to let go. Like I said in my last update - Day 8 of No Complaining, I've fallen off the complaining wagon many times. I've been able to catch my mistakes more quickly, but you and I know that old habits only die with a lot of effort.

It was time to put up Christmas lights and I don't get excited about stringing lights from one end of the house to the other, but I does encourage a festive atmosphere. My technique used to always be to complain about my sacrifice, (oh how hard I work) get my wife to thank me for all my future effort, then get it done as quickly as possible.

This same pattern started right on queue, but with a different ending. Instead of rushing to get it all done I relaxed with the work. The complaining in my head stopped. I was there in each action. The placement of my ladder was calculated, executed and enjoyed. Even the tangled wires didn't frustrate me. I've been working on building this skill, but most days I have fallen back into old thought habits. This time I was able to stop rushing and just enjoy the task.

I'm pretty sure it was because of this 30 day challenge. By not letting my thoughts go wild I've been able to steer them toward the feelings that bring happiness, or at least a relaxed state.

What is frustration? It's internal complaining. The moment isn't exactly how you want it to be, so you unleash a barrage of complaints to vent.

I just untangled the string of lights and made an effort to look for the fun about the situation instead of what was bad. I was also able to let go of worrying about what else I would rather be doing. I was there stringing up lights and that was good.


Feeling Fake

I came back inside and told my wife that the Christmas lights were all done. I wanted to go into a mini-tirade about how much of a pain it was (like I usually do), but this time I knew that I didn't really feel that way. My old habits couldn't be applied any more. So what to do? Just tell my wife that they are done and hope that she thanks me. I knew I wouldn't get my gushing hug and kiss. It would just be a "thanks hon."

I realized that I was relying on validation from my wife instead of giving myself the love that I needed. I shouldn't need my wife to gush over a simple job like putting up Christmas lights.

I decided to have a mini celebration. 10 minutes of Yoga then on to the next task. After I was done I was happy with where I was at. I didn't need my wife to create a big fuss for me to enjoy stringing up the Christmas lights.

I started Work Happy Now to help people (myself included) to maximize their work happiness. I thought about how managers can create a better work environment, how CEO's can lead better, and how HR managers can improve their incentive programs, which are all needed.

These ideas are all well and good, but the 50/50 Effect yells louder than words.

50% of our happiness comes from external circumstances and 50% comes from within. I've found that the more I cultivate my personal development at work and at home, the happier I become.

Some of you may think that you don't complain that much. Maybe you don't need a 30 day challenge of no complaining. You may be right, but I'm sure there is something you need to personally develop in order to reach a new level of happiness.


Intensifying Your Awareness

The more you challenge yourself to become aware of your thought process the easier it will be to handle a difficult co-worker or a difficult child. You may be like me where the process sometimes feels fake, but eventually this barrier will crumble. You are intensifying your awareness which helps you see the truth.

Many alcoholics don't want to quit drinking alcohol because it helps them relax and enjoy a party. They don't want to focus on the negatives (hang-overs, poor judgment, and cell damage (liver and brain especially).  They see what they want until they hold a magnifying glass up to all those warts.

A thirty day challenge forces you to take a good hard look at a weakness. I used to complain about presents. I didn't like this or that about them, but I've realized that presents aren't about just me. They are about the giver and the receiver. If I could stop complaining and enjoy the act of receiving a present I could make the person I'm with happier.

If you can be more flexible at work, you will cultivate happier co-workers. So try a 30 day challenge of your own. Pick out a weakness and try to improve it in thirty days. You may not stop your bad habit completely, but that's okay. I have a feeling that I'll still complain, but as the months go by it will be less and less.

What do you need to work on to get to that next level? Would you like to make more friends? Then create a thirty day trial that forces you to interact with new people. It's all about the numbers. The more people you meet the better chance you have at making new friends. Would you like to start your own business? Then put a thirty day plan together that makes you work on your business plan until it has a foundation that gets you so excited that you just want to keep going.


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Image courtesy of Amarand Agasi