Lately, I have been experiencing a lot of change. I got the flu, I lost my dad to cancer, we have a new software to work with at my job, and I’m going to be hitting 55 in about a month, which puts me in the next age bracket on surveys.
I wish I could say that I have handled the changes in my life well, but in fact, I have found myself complaining, and I don’t like that one bit. Did I just complain about complaining? Wow, that’s a new one.
When I hear myself saying, “This is so hard” or “Why can’t things be like they used to be?” I remind myself of a dog in our neighborhood. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is day or night this poor dog just barks.
Now, don’t get me wrong, we have dogs, and they bark too, much more than we would like. But in general, they are barking at something. This other poor animal just barks. He barks every few minutes, not the staccato bark, bark, bark of a warning. Nope, just bark, wait a couple minutes and bark again. He doesn’t stop. I think he is saying, “cold,” “thirsty,” “bored,” or “tired,” one bark at a time.
I need to remind myself to say something positive to myself every once in a while so I see things differently, because the truth of it is that the way I handle change or difficulty has everything to do with the way I think and how I talk to myself.
I can bark a little complaint every so often to my spouse, my kids, my coworkers, and when I do, it affects my perspective negatively. And I complain even more. The fact if the matter is that complaining rarely makes a difference. When I complain to other people, it may make them feel like they should complain too, but it doesn’t really change the situation.
Complaining is not going to help me stop coughing or blowing my nose and complaining isn’t going to make me 30 again either. It also won’t change the fact that I have to learn a new software.
So what can I do instead? I recently saw a T-shirt that had “Suck it up, buttercup!” written on it. I thought maybe I could get one with that printed backwards, so I could stand and look at myself in the mirror several times per day and remind myself to just get over it.
That doesn’t seem like it would be very effective. Here is what I found on how to change your tune when you complain too much.
1) Practice yoga – being mindful and relaxing, preferably in a quiet place can change your outlook.
2) Keep a gratitude journal where you write down five things every day that you are thankful for. Also write down one of those things on a card or a post it that you can look at during the day.
3) Train yourself to be less judgmental. If you catch yourself judging someone find one thing positive about the person as focus on that.
4) Accept responsibility. Be responsible for yourself and your actions. Before you blame someone else for what they did ask yourself if you have any responsibility for the issue.
5) Find what makes you happy. Discover a hobby that feeds your passion and then practice it.
6) Find new employment. If you hate your job and your coworkers are truly making you crazy maybe it is time to find a new job.
7) Take care of yourself. A healthy diet and daily activity go a long way to create a more positive you.
8) The next time you want to complain stop yourself and decide if you would rather complain or be happy.
It looks like I have several options to help me with my complaining problem. I still may end up rocking that T-shirt!
Connie Glandon, a regular columnist for the Globe Gazette, lives in Charles City with her husband, son and dogs. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.