Challenging our Culture of Complaining
There are a few things us Brits are famed for; our accents, our love of tea, and our obsession with the weather, to name but a few. Whilst those things are definitely rooted in our culture there is another thing I am noticing more and more that us Brits do a lot of, and that is complain. To the point that I am now wondering if we actually have created a culture for ourselves of complaining, and of this being an accepted and normal part of everyday life.
I have mentioned on here before that I don't like people complaining about the weather, it is one of my pet peeves. However, complaining about the weather is definitely a very British thing to do, and a very normal part of daily conversations. You can hardly walk down the street during times of extreme weather without someone telling you it's "too hot" or "too wet" or "too cold". Leaving you with the overall impression we are impossible to please.
I have noticed lately though that this normalisation of complaining extends way beyond the weather. Since becoming a Minimalist I have found many areas of my life have been impacted, and surprisingly I have found it has hugely impacted what I say, or more importantly what I don't say. You see since embracing minimalism I have found I complain a lot less. I think this personal shift in the amount I complain has led to a heightened awareness of the complaints of others. Largely because 99% of the time the things people are complaining about are so inconsequential I struggle to understand why people are letting these things upset them so much.
We allow ourselves to be impacted by these inconsequential things to such an extent that if we're not careful it can ruin our entire day, week or maybe even life. For example; someone cuts us up when we're driving and we rant and rave about it to the next few people we talk to. We hold on to that anger for much longer than is healthy. Did we get out of the situation without incident? Yes? Good. Now let it go, move on. We don't need to keep reliving it and holding on to that anger. It is futile. It won't ever change the way that individual drives, it won't even have a positive impact on the people you relay the story too. So why can't we just let it go? We've allowed the actions of a stranger to ruin our day and our culture of complaining has enabled us to hold onto it for far longer than is healthy.
That is just one example, but the same idea applies to so many everyday incidents that we choose to bemoan, but by doing so we offer nothing positive, and we create no real change. So why do we persist with these negative behaviours?
I believe in large part because it is such a big part of our culutre. We Brits are meant to love small talk (I personally fail spectacularly whenever I attempt it) and complaining about things is an easy way to connect with a stranger. They have no doubt been cut up by that "Crazy driver" before too. It creates a common ground between you. However, it offers up nothing positive for anyone in the conversation. How much better would small talk be if we were to share something wonderful that's happened lately, or offer a compliment. That would be a much more beneficial interaction, and for me at least, a much less cringe worthy one.
Minimalists ask themselves if "things" will add value to their life. I have started to ask myself if what I am going to say will add value. This world of ours can be hard enough to navigate without constantly adding to the negative narrative with our inconsequential complaints. There are definitely bad things that happen that are well worth a good cry or a good moan. However that is not the type of thing I am addressing here. If your words won't change it are they worth saying? Sometimes the answer will be yes, but other times it would be a far healthier choice to take a deep breath and just let it go.
I genuinely believe that you will find yourself much happier and much more content if you try to embrace this crazy notion to complain less. Stopping before you speak can be one way, but another approach that my friend Jess and I implemented back in our University days when we naively thought life was hard (oh how hilarious we were!). Every time one of us complained, the other would make them stop and name three things they were thankful for. It not only served to highlight how often we were complaining, but always left us realising how much more positive things there were for us to be dwelling on and talking about.
If you have been struggling to find happiness and contentment in life, then challenging yourself to complain less might help to create the change you're looking for. Try challenging yourself next time you engage in negative small talk to change the direction of the conversation to a more positive one. Try naming things you're thankful for when you find yourself complaining. I really believe you will be a much happier person for it.
If you enjoyed this blog post why not use the buttons below to share it far and wide, and why not subscribe to my monthly newsletter to receive blog updates, news and offers? No spam, I promise.