“Complaining is dangerous business. It can damage or even destroy your relationship with God, your relationships with other people, and even with your relationship with yourself.”
~ Joyce Meyer
I wish I had found this quote a while ago when my life was not going so great. I was the kind of person who complained a lot, about school, about the system, about people, etc.
Social networks provided a very effective platform for such behavior and because my friends made fun of me for complaining about everything, I even set up a specific twitter account for publishing my absurd complaints.
We often believe that because “the customer is always right” and there are other people at our service, it somehow gives us the right to complain. Be it a slow Internet connection, a hair in your soup or a bad teacher giving you bad grades, complaining is not doing you and others any good; It spreads a wave of negativity and we can’t stop it, we can only go the other way and be more positive.
So what can we do about it?
1. Give up attachment to the need to be right.
I remember putting friendships at risk by engaging in pointless and stupid arguments with friends. Stubborn and rude words came out of my mouth faster than my mind seemed to produce them.
Being right about something feels so damn good, especially when you get to say: I told you so! But you know what feels way better? The freedom of forgiving yourself and others for making mistakes. Forgiveness is an amazing tool for transforming your behavior and your life all together. Just let it go bro, or sis.
2. Walk in other people’s shoes.
According to the spiritual laws of the universe, we are all one and whatever we do or say to someone else, we are doing to ourselves. It’s karma. So as you prepare to complain to the guy who gave you small fries instead of the large, or maybe that old lady who’s driving super slow on the freeway, instead to this:
Imagine that you are them for a second, switch places. Imagine walking a mile in their shoes, pretend that you can feel their stress and daily struggle.
Do you still feel like complaining? Give yourself and others a break, and allow for compassion and kindness to substitute that rage and anger.
3. What goes around comes around.
This one goes hand-in-hand with number two, be nice to people—even if they don’t deserve it. Give away genuine smiles to strangers, have a conversation with the weird person sitting next to you on the bus or the subway. Pay for a suspended coffee or donate old clothes to charity—whatever makes you feel good, it’s karma yoga.
Karma will only be a bitch if you are, so you can practice choosing compassion and acceptance, releasing that karmic weight that’s dragging you down. When you free the love within your heart, you give your spirit the wings it needs to soar on the road to enlightenment.
4. Accept life as it is.
Brian Tracy once said: “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.”
What seem like problems in our lives are not problems; in reality our attitude about them is the problem. Even the most famous pirate Jack Sparrow knows it. So whatever it is that makes you want to complain, take a deep breath, accept what it is, and with acceptance comes letting go.
5. Practice Satya.
Telling the truth is one of the many yogic virtues that lead to liberation and enlightenment. It means more than not lying though, it’s kind of like realizing that our words are like magic powers; it’s up to you to become a white or a dark wizard.
Just like that Sufi saying goes: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is is true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”
6. Practice complimenting instead of complaining.
Okay, let’s face it, there are some situations that pretty much demand a complaint. However, we have the opportunity to begin with a sincere compliment, and once we start off with a positive vibe, that complaint will lose it’s negative power and it will transmute into a truth telling act.
For example: I really liked the salad, but the dead bug in the soup (seriously, what’s up with the soups?) was not of my liking. Or like: I really appreciate your institution keeping track of my finances, but that foreclosure was uncalled for dude!
These were just dramatic examples of particular situations that demand a complaint; just speak your truth with an open heart and be as nice as you can.
Remember that it’s probably not the fault of the person you’re complaining to.
7. Practice Vipassana Meditation
You don’t necessarily have to do the 10 days of silence and introspection performed in these retreats. Its purpose is to become aware of the impermanence and true nature of our thoughts. There is a common misconception about meditation, which is based on the Idea that we must have a blank mind.
However, simply breathing while sitting still and observing the thoughts has an incredible potential for transformation. It doesn’t mean you’ll become the Buddha, but it means that whenever a negative thought arises within, now you know it’s not you and it’s easier for it to dissolve, like a tiny ripple in your ocean of consciousness.
So, back to my own story of transformation.
Complaining about my situation in college not only made me realize that I was hanging out with the wrong people, at the wrong time and place, it forced me to seclude, observe and accept myself for who I was. After that big initial step, things started flowing and I started attracting positive people and experiences into my life.
The moment I realized things had changed for the better was when I decided to invest in a $100 dollar yoga mat, only to find out that it came in the wrong color. It was a test from God, and I feel like I passed by writing an amazing complaint (not really complaint) letter that unfolded in one of the best happy endings I’ve seen in online shopping: a free yoga mat for a friend who couldn’t afford one, but desperately needed the mat as a motivation to practice more often.
In the end, it’s not about the money or the material objects, we come to this life to experience and learn from our mistakes. After all, we can’t take any of our stuff with us when we die.
With all of our uncounted blessings in day-to-day living, is it really worth complaining?
I wrote this hoping that you and many more readers will find some inspiration to kickstart and embrace change in your lives. Join the revolution, and one-by-one let’s unite to make this world a better place. It all starts with a simple choice, to complain or to complement.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Travis May