I decided to go complaint free for a week. I knew there was a high likelihood that I wouldn't be successful, but went with the "shoot for the moon and you'll land among the stars" philosophy.
It's funny how sometimes things happen in your life right when you need them. Well, within hours after making this decision, we had a bad day. The airlines lost our car seat, and then we accidentally bought a front facing one, and then Walmart wouldn't let us return it. Eventually we were able to return it, and the airport found our car seat, but the point is that normally I would have been irritated and frustrated by all of this. I'm sure I would have complained. However, because I had just committed to being complaint free, I was very mindful of my words and thoughts. By not complaining, I actually felt a decent amount of peace throughout the situation. I also feel like it kept my husband calmer.
As far as the rest of my complaint free week went, I found that at first I was preoccupied about what makes a complaint. I wasn't sure if I was "allowed" to make statements like "I'm tired" or "I'm hungry." Are those complaints or are the just statements? Upon reflection, I realized that what really matters is the intention behind what we say. I can say I'm tired, but I can also complain about being tired. The attitude, tone, and intention all matter.
Moreover, this practice and reflection gave me the chance to engage in active re-framing. Normally when doing the dishes I would probably say something to Henry about how even though I don't like doing dishes, we need to do them to keep the house clean. Yes, that's true. But, it's also slightly negative. It reminds me that I don't like doing dishes. Instead, I changed my conversation with Henry to the fact that doing dishes makes me grateful that we have dishes, that we have food to eat, and that we have a home and kitchen to store the dishes. By omitting the part about not liking the chore and attending to the gratitude component of it, I not only taught Henry a lesson, but gave myself the opportunity to take a positive outlook.
So, you're probably wondering if I was successful. Did I make it through the week without complaining? Of course not. But, was I more mindful about my words? Did I stop to listen to my internal dialogue and notice my thoughts more often? Yes. And, I think that's the point. We're human, we all complain (maybe there's some super positive non-complainers out there, you are amazing!). However, if we can all take time to slow down and notice what we think and say and attend to how those things affect our attitude and perspective on life I think we will be better off. And, if our words can be a little more positive, or at least a little less negative, as a result, I think everyone will benefit.