I read a book recently called The No Complain Rule. I got this book from the library because I was working on a training class at work about constructive versus destructive complaining, and my research led me to the book. And while the book was useful in helping me plan the class, it was also useful in helping me reexamine my life.
I tend to be a fairly positive person, but there are many times where I find myself venting for the sake of venting. No big deal, I think. I’m just blowing off steam to help myself feel better. But after a venting session, do I actually feel better? Not really.
Turns out there’s a reason for that. When all you do is complain about the things you can’t change, you end up on the expressway to Complainville. That short venting session leads to another one, and before you know it you’re drowning in negativity.
That’s not to say that you can’t complain. But when you do, you need to approach it constructively. Rather than focusing on the problem, focus on the solution.
Is your boss an asshole? Don’t complain about it to your coworker who can’t do anything but will probably reaffirm your frustration. If it’s really affecting your work life, go to your boss directly, or your boss’s boss if that makes sense. Tell them about the problem and offer solutions on how you can fix it. Maybe your boss needs some additional training to help her learn how to manage without coming across as obnoxious. Or maybe she needs to be set up with a mentor with a track record of success in leadership to improve where she’s lacking.
I strongly believe that a lot of this ties into how you look at life. If you tend to see the negative in every situation, chances are you complain about those negative things. On the flip side, if you’re a positive person you can turn negative situations around and make them positive.
One thing I started doing recently was writing down three good things that happened each day. It’s pretty easy. I downloaded an app called 3 Good Things and set a reminder for 8 p.m. every night for me to fill out my three things. It’s still a new habit that I’m trying to instill in myself, but I’m really liking reflecting on positive things that happen each day. There are certainly some days where it takes me a while to think of three good things that happened, but I’ve always managed it so far.
It’s fairly easy for me to think of good things like this because I do it more naturally. I know people who tend to see the bad in everything and I can imagine it would be harder for them to pick out three good things each day. But I bet if they tried they would be surprised.
This is a habit I intend to continue into the foreseeable future. And it’s almost 8 p.m. in Ohio, so here are my three good things from today.
- I had a great 4-mile run before work to enjoy the cooler weather
- I posted to my blog! (Well, almost…)
- I had a good dinner with my family filled with lots of laughter and clapping (Liam just learned how to clap!)
What are your three good things?