Stop Whining, Start Winning

How often do you complain?

No, I don’t mean half hour long soliloquies at the barista because your coffee is cold, I mean just everyday complaints.

Anytime you verbally express a negative thought, that’s a complaint.

Why do we do this? Habit, typically. Sometimes boredom, But deeper than that – oftentimes it’s a social thing (f***mylife is an example) – it’s socially encouraged to bond over misery stories. To sympathise, express empathy & so on. Sometimes it’s a way of adjusting social hierarchies – I’m your superior, but if I express misery that makes us more equal, & thus you more comfortable. If I feel inferior, complaining about you might (in theory) make me feel better about myself by diminishing you somehow. Many entire cultures have whinging as a core attribute (England, I’m looking at you).

With all those people doing it, what’s the big deal? I mean, really?

Fundamentally, it damages us.

Talking about something gives it our attention, our energy. Gives it power.

Focus on the moon, not the clutter of trees.

Basically, whining makes you feel shitty.

If you believe in the law of attraction, then the more you talk about something, the more you’re going to attract more of that thing. Want a miserable day tomorrow? Spend a bunch of time talking about how miserable today was.

If you think LOA is a bunch of hokum, well think about it this way – why the hell are you wasting you time, energy & attention focussing on something you don’t like? How on earth is that making you any happier? Any more productive? Sorting the problem out, or improving your life? It’s not.

Sure, undesirable things happen. So what? What really matters is how we react to them. Martin Seligman in Learned Optimism discovered that the key difference between success & failure in life is how we treat setbacks. Fundamentally, we do better, get luckier & have more success the less energy we give to these negative events. Pessimists talk a lot about setbacks. Optimists dismiss them. This is eloquently summed up by Sylvester Stallone who likes to dismiss negative situations with “They probably just ate some bad clams.”

As Viktor Frankl said, (paraphrased) the only real freedom we have is the freedom to choose how we react to any event.

The less attention you give negative events (other than the minimum necessary to physically deal with them, of course), the more of your time is focussed on things you actually want. Your goals. Your happiness. Feeling good.

Whinging takes us out of that zone of joy. Out of expressing ourselves in the world. In the process, it adds nothing positive to our lives at all. The more we can reduce it, the better we feel about our lives. About our days. About how things are going for us. Why? Because how we feel about ourselves is the sum total of our thoughts. The more of those thoughts are positive, the better we feel.

If you remember nothing else, remember this:

Your quality of life is directly proportional to how much of the time you feel good.
Yes, that’s incredibly obvious. You want to have a better life? Spend more of it feeling better.

Of course, the question is – how do you increase how much you feel good? Well (& a big duh to this one) stop making yourself feel miserable so often. You may not be able to help what happens to you, but you can definitely change how much time you spending talking, thinking or focussing on these bad things around you.

Try it for a week. Anytime you catch yourself whinging, deliberately let that thought go, & think (or better, say!) something positive instead. Or heck, if you can’t do that, just shut the hell up – that’s a great first step. See how great you start feeling, by comparison. Notice how much better things get in your life – people reacting more positively to you, opportunities arriving, things just somehow going smoother.

We only have so many minutes each day. Make them count. Make them positive ones. It’s just a choice.

[If you’d like to read more, my man Dhrumil has a great podcast here about why we complain, & how to help others we see complaining. Also worth checking is AComplaintFreeWorld]