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How I Stopped Complaining for a Week


WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

By Ann Hodgman

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One woman's diary

I said to my daughter, "You know what I just can't stand about this book? The long passages with no dialogue." -

She paused, then said, "Mom, are there any books you like ?"

Now it was my turn to pause. How could she ask that, when everyone knows how much I love to read? But then again, when had I last complimented a book — even one I admired? Come to think of it, how often did I say anything without a negative twist? I don't want my tombstone to read She was pretty nice, except for all the whining. So I'm taking action. I'm going to try to stop complaining for a month.

Wait, make that a week. Seven days of "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." I can stay upbeat for that long...can't I?

Day 1
It's 11:00 a.m. I sit down at my desk for a quick review of the comments I've made this morning.

"Why can't anyone come up with skim milk that tastes good?"

"That exfoliant was a total waste of money."

"Don't you hate the music on the Weather Channel?"

Three gripes since I woke up, and those are just the ones I can remember. Revised plan: Tomorrow, I'll stop whining. Today, I'll just take notes. For example, what's the point of carrying on about the weather? Sure, it's just a conversation starter, but everyone already knows what it's doing outside. Oops. Now I'm complaining about other complainers.

Day 2
"I have so much work to do," moaned one of my friends on the phone this morning. "What about you?"

"Not too bad, actually," I answered, and immediately I felt more in control of the projects looming over my head. Wow, my first victory. Can it be that complaining about work makes it seem like even more of a burden than it already is? Flushed with pride, I decided to tell my family about my new resolution at dinner. "For the next week or so, I'm not going to make a single negative comment," I declared.

"That's so weird, Mom," said my son. "You don't sound like yourself."

"I know! That's the point — I want to change!"

I hope they'll recognize me when I've become Mommy Sunshine.

Day 3
I had to get a car-emissions test today, and I didn't complain to anyone — just went off and did it. Shouldn't I get extra credit for that?

But when I was watching TV with my daughter, we saw an ad for The Biggest Loser — and I couldn't help saying, "I don't see how anyone can watch this show." Normally, my kids and I bond over criticizing TV. But now this was just another negative statement, so I added, "On the other hand, I've never seen it! Maybe it's great!" My daughter rolled her eyes.

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