I first encountered an experiment in complaining when I was doing an Oola challenge. (If you haven't heard of Oola- go check it out... like NOW! www.oolalife.com and order the book TODAY!)
Anyways, my challenge for the day was to go 24 hours without complaining. I didn't do so swell.
Recently, I've been in numerous situations where I am surrounded by people complaining. About big things and also about every single small nuasance you can imagine. If you have never been around someone who is a constant complainer, let me tell you, it is draining. I needed moments to step away and just breath. It almost sucked the life out of me. It can be contagious as well. If one person is complaining, it is so easy for everyone else to just jump on the band wagon and before you know it, you are on a ride to Sucky McSuckersville. Negativity just fills the air.
But being in these certain negative situations also served as a reminder. For myself. To not complain. When you are bombarded with negativity, it CAN really open your eyes to the beauty around you, IF you so choose to think that way. You can otherwise become easily sucked into the vortex of despair and complain right along with them. You can choose to rise above it and find the positive spin on all your surroundings or wallow around the mountain of complaints.
And I've been realizing in the past few months how my own flesh and blood, my children, are like huge ridiculous complainers. All day. Every day. We will be playing out in the sun and they come up to me in a super whiny voice and say, "Mom, I'm hot!" as if there is something I can do about the sun. How do I even respond to this? My 3 year old son has started to complain while eating his food and taking forever to do so and complain to me, "Mom, this is taking longer." Yep buddy, it is.We are on hour 3 of dinnertime for you just to eat your food but that has been your choice. Just really pointless complaining. And I usually respond in a sarcastic and annoyed way.
I had been away to a Young Living Essential Oils convention in Utah for 4 days and upon my arrival, had heard from my husband what a great time they all had together while I was away, but also how he realized how much our children complained about things. And then at supper, they started complaining more. And, it hit me right away that something needed to be done. Because I don't want them to grow up being complaining adults. The only thing worse than complaining kids, is complaining adults.
My husband and I talked to the kids about complaining and gave them examples so they knew exactly what we were talking about. We talked about how complaining is like focusing on all the negative around us and making sure everyone knows about it. It creates an icky feeling and bums everyone out, including ourselves. But that there is so much beauty around us that if we only stop complaining for but a moment, we get to experience it.
Since I know it can be hard to stop habits, we came up with a system. Every time we hear our kids complain, we have a key word we will say (our kids chose the word "popsicle") and when that word is said, it is a reminder to them that they just complained. And now, they get an opportunity to re-word their complaint into a praise report. We did a few role plays to get the ball rolling and give them tangible examples to know the difference.
Makkedah said: "Oh, it's such a hot day out. I can't stand this!"
Mom says: "Popsicle."
Makkedah realizes what she just said was a complaint and gets a chance to practice a more positive exclamation.
Makkedah says: "It is a hot day out but I am so glad that we are outside and together as a family." Or "I am really blessed that I get to be playing outside today!" Or "I'm glad this is such a hot day so that we can play in the sprinkler!"
I explained to them that I want to know what they are feeling and what is going on in their little minds and hearts, but that when it comes out as constant complaining, we need to adjust our hearts and mouths. I want to know if they peed their pants and are really uncomfortable in their soaked underwear, obviously. I can help remedy the situation. There's a difference there.
Each of our older children (7, 5, 3) got an opportunity to practice some role play sentences and turn negative phrases around. They had to think of what ways there were, in fact, such loveliness around us that we could have easily missed. We decided to choose to enjoy the very moment we were in and find the joy throughout our day.
It's a learning process for us all, but a great opportunity for growth and laughter as a family. Today, on our family walk, we saw a bunny running across our path. A little farther down the path, Samaria (our 5 year old), in a very pouty voice said, "I want my bunny back!" To which I replied, "Popsicle." And she thought for a moment and said, "I really want my bunny back but maybe you can buy me a stuffed bunny at the store?"
Reeealllly close Sam. Nice try. We said, "Good, and another way would be to say how cool it was that you got to see a bunny on our family walk and hopefully you can see another one again."
It's been a really cool thing to integrate into our family and one I hope will be lasting.
I encourage you not only to do something similiar with your own kids, but also in your own life. Try to go 24 hours without complaining. Or maybe even just 4 hours. Take an inventory on your speech. Not only your speech, but your heart and thoughts, because it starts there. Or get an accountability partner to help point out your words to you if you are completely unaware. But do something to strive for more. To find the greatness in today! To change your heart and your mind and your words. To encourage others instead of spreading disappointment.
You have the choice. You have the power. Be the light.
Complaining can be contagious. But, so is joy.