The Habit of Complaint

When I worked at the library, one of our volunteers was the sweetest little old lady you can imagine. There were days I could tell that she wasn’t feeling her best, but she always got up, got dressed, and gave her best. And with never, ever, a word of complaint. She was an inspiration.

Around 80% of human talk in groups, is complaining.

I recently read this in the article “50 Psychology Facts Everyone Needs to Know” at Wow, I thought, “that seems awfully high.” And then I had one of those days when things weren’t going all that well. My husband was on a trip, and I poured out all my trials and tribulation in an email to him. Hmmm, maybe that percentage is actually pretty accurate. Sometimes it does help to share our problems with others. But I got to thinking: what if instead of complaining 80% of the time, we chose instead to express our gratitude, our appreciation, our praise, and our caring? What if we converted our habit of complaining into something positive instead? Even if we change the percentage a little bit, we will be improving both our own lives and the lives of others!

It reminded me of a movement started by the Reverend Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity right here in Kansas City Missouri. A few years back he asked his flock to take a pledge: to swear off complaining, criticizing, gossiping or using sarcasm for 21 days*. Those who take the challenge are issued little purple bracelets as a reminder of their pledge. If (or more likely, when) they catch themselves complaining, they switch the bracelet to the opposite wrist and start counting the days from scratch. I haven’t tried to obtain a bracelet yet (looks like it could take awhile), but any bracelet could work for a reminder.

Why not take it just a little further: don’t just stop a negative habit, replace it with a positive one. Practicing gratitude has been proven to increase our happiness. Are you ready to take the challenge? Find yourself a bracelet, grab a Seinfeld chart to track your progress from, and get started today!

*Studies now show that habit change takes an average of 66 days.

I seek to create order from the chaos of complex information. Join me at the Daily PlanIt to gain insights, inspiration, and information to increase skills for a better life. I unlock the power of teaching reading with phonics in the pursuit of literacy at In my spare time I explore books and movies, often choosing titles available on both screen and page.

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Posted in Ideas That Work, personal development

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