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Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy happy joy joy

Every morning I wake up feeling neutral. Not in a good mood, not in a bad mood. Just fine. At some point in the morning I tip the scale one way or the other then continue on with the day with either a positive or negative outlook, depending on how things started. But lately something strange has been happening. I've been very aware of the first negative thought or complaint I have for the morning. And I've had an internal debate with myself:

"should I say that so-and-so is annoying or not?"
"should I complain about how bad traffic was on the way in?"
"should I mention how little sleep I got and how tired I am?"

It feels that by complaining, I'm deflating my spirit a little bit. I'm also starting to become more aware that I'm setting a tone for the day. I usually just end up saying whatever's on my mind anyway, whether it's negative or not. But this morning as I was about to make my first complaint of the day, something stopped me. I thought, "do I really want to start down this path?" So I held back. But then I wondered, "how long could I actually go without complaining?" So I hesitantly, but optimistically, made a goal for myself: go the whole day without complaining. Gulp.

I'm not an overly negative person so it's not like I have to go through a complete transformation of character to complain less. But at the same time, I think I make a lot of little complaints throughout the day that cumulatively add up to more negativity than the single complaint they started out with, such as, "I'm tired." Or, "Is it time to go home yet?"

Since setting the goal this morning, I accidentally complained once before I had a chance to think about what I was about to say. I immediately realized I'd complained and remedied it by saying, "but it's not that bad, really! Could have been worse!" Or some variation on that. Saying something positive brought me back in focus. And I do feel  happier already, I really do.

I should clarify that I don't mean that I (or you) shouldn't talk about negative feelings when it's important to work out a serious problem. I'm more referring to the dumb complaints we make throughout the day that don't help any situation at all but only end up dampening our spirits, and the spirits of those around us. I think that by eliminating more of those complaints, I could  be a happier person.

How long do you think you could go without complaining? What impact do you think it could have on your life? Do you want to try it with me?

(Side note: anyone know the title reference?)

10 comments:

Natalie said...

I'm in. After last night, I could really use a goal like this today. Is it considered complaining to insinuate that if you weren't trying not to complain, there would be plenty to grumble about?=) really, though. I'm going to try it.

Sarah said...

This may be my New Year's resolution...I like it!

Katherine said...

I'm in, too! I think it's a really good idea. I definitely find myself uttering those little complaints that don't necessarily need to be said, and I'm curious to see what happens if I don't! Maybe I'll put that picture of Ned Flanders up as a remind-diddly-inder. ;)

The Leo said...

Geez, this is the worst Christmas season ever! Oh, are we trying not to complain? Sorry, I have a genetic defect that makes it impossible for me not to complain (so I'm exempt right?).

nate said...

Ren and Stimpy

Brian said...

I think a lot about a line from Neal A. Maxwell's last conference talk before he died:

"A dear and now deceased friend said to me years ago when I had said something sardonic, 'You could have gone all day without saying that.'"

Many times I'm a little too concerned about being funny. Something will pop into my head that I know will get a big laugh, but I know it's kind of negative and will leave a sour aftertaste. So I'll ask myself, "Can I can go all day without saying that?" The answer is usually yes and I feel better leaving it unsaid.

http://lds.org/general-conference/2004/04/remember-how-merciful-the-lord-hath-been?lang=eng

Ashley said...

I think about this a lot, too. Way to go, Elizabeth! It's true--the less we complain, the happier we are.

lizzie mc.- said...

I do. I was just thinking this morning how I vent through the day about the troubles of a two year old (usually to the two year old.) So I may not, but then again, I may succeed.

Here's the thing that goes along with it. What's the difference between being positive and demonstrating faith? They're inseparably connected. Keep shooing away the adversary and being an inspiration and example to the rest of us. Love you.

BTW, made cookies today (that only turned out so-so.) And thought of you. Miss those cookies. Happy cookie season!

Amy said...

Honestly, sometimes life is frustrating and sometimes I just want to vent. But complaining can be draining - sometimes something doesn't seem so bad until I start talking about it, and then dwelling on it. It can be draining to listen to a complainer, too.

I've found, though, that it's possible to put a positive spin on almost anything, and that I'm a lot happier when I'm actively looking for that positive spin. Sometimes it's just the humor of the situation, and sometimes there unexpected good consequences. You don't see those good consequences if you're not looking for them.

Fei said...

I have found that positivity is like the magic potion for being attractive, too.

Complaining is so easy to do, and even though we really aren't stormy, cranky balls of negativity, complaining really does dampen positivity. The people I can think of that I look to for how well they manage their positive energy are always grateful, and never complain.

It's really hard to stop the little negativities from slipping out, but much harder not to think them at all. I could do so much better!

Thanks for the reminder.