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How I Stopped Complaining for a Week

continued...

Day 4
Today I caught myself about to say "I hate it when — " and quickly changed it to "Don't you hate it when — ?" But I'm pretty sure that's cheating. I've also found another way to cheat: I'll say I hate something and then add, "That's not a complaint. It's just an observation."

"Please stop," said my son. "I can't stand you trying so hard not to be negative."

But I can't stop. If nothing else, this test is making me realize how often I fuss about things that don't really bother me.

Day 5
Progress! I've had a headache for a few hours. (Not a complaint. Just an observation.) So when the supermarket checkout lady asked, "How are you?" I could've launched into my sad story — but instead, I just replied, "Great, thanks. I love your nails. Where'd you get them done?"

Biting back the real answer didn't cure my headache, but it did improve my self-image. Now I can see myself as the type of person who's friendly to store employees and cheerful in the face of adversity.

Day 6
Even when you've put a sock in your complaining, it's not easy to stay positive. Last night, my women's hockey team lost to a rival that I swear is not as good as we are. Back in the locker room, one of my fellow players said, "That was fun." I just looked at her. How could I respond without going on about the refs, the other team, the fact that it was almost midnight? But instead of complaining, I expressed what was really on my mind.

"I don't think it's fun to lose. I feel terrible." Instant connection. She looked at me sympathetically, rubbed my shoulder, and said, "I know. Me neither." In terms of emotional relief, saying what I really felt worked better than pointless complaining.

Day 7
Just when I'm getting the hang of this, the week is up. My takeaway? The experiment forced me to take an extra moment to consider what I wanted to say; that's something I plan to keep up. Positive words come to me more naturally now, and I like knowing that I can shift conversation to more tranquil channels. I can't say I've turned into Mommy Sunshine. I haven't brought about world peace either. But I like knowing that in my own way, I'm nudging things in the right direction.

 

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