Whining and griping over the small stuff in life feels natural to us and we are all guilty of it. It feels important to air these frustrations, and when we’re on the verge of doing so it’s almost impossible to stop ourselves. But in order to maintain healthy and whole relationships and a positive outlook in life, it’s equally important to recognize how often we complain, and if necessary, to cut back.
However, instead of trying to stop ourselves right while we’re on the brink of lamenting, we can make minor adjustments in our daily lives to avoid the urge altogether. This will allow us to gain insight on the little things that aren’t worth whining over and the bigger issues that require more attention. Here are 6 tips to keep you from whining:
1. Look Inward
Self-awareness is key. Take note of how often you find yourself complaining during your regular day, and try to figure out what triggers those complaints. Is it co-workers, your boss, your spouse, neighbors, traffic, weather? Is it everything, is nothing outside the wrath of your grumbling? Is it something you can control or something far beyond? Could it be dealt with peacefully and professionally, or is it destined to bother you for the remainder of your days? If you’re aware of how often you complain, what it pertains to, and how it can be dealt with, you’ll be more likely to assess whether there’s a larger issue you’re trying to get at, or if you have the tendency to gripe over things that aren’t worth the breath.
2. Look Outward
Think of the things or people in your life that make you happy or give you comfort. Take some time every day to list some of these. We’re all very grateful for the things we have, but if we don’t remind ourselves of our fortunes often, we’ll push the stuff that matters to the back burner and allow the negative influences to take over. Plus, when you’re right in the moment of feeling ‘complainy’, trying to list your fortunes will only result in that screaming inner voice yelling at you to shut up and let anger preside, so by adding it to your daily routine you’ll maintain a better overall sense of thankfulness and gratitude.
Also, think of the person whom the complaint pertains to. Is it the man sitting next to you in the coffee shop, for instance, who’s tapping his pen and it’s really bothering you? More often than not, if a person knew their actions were annoying other people, they’d stop. He’s not out to get you. He’s not intentionally getting under your skin. So think about whether it’s worth it to politely ask him to discontinue the tapping, or if the problem lies within your own sensitivity to noise and you should try to overcome it. (A self-proclaimed noise-a-phobe’s #1 trick: bring headphones with you wherever you go.)
3. Take Your Time
A lot of our complaints come about when we’re feeling impatient or when we’re in a hurry. Standing in a long line, waiting in traffic, or waiting on someone else to complete a task you could do in half the time are all instances when we’re in a high state of agitation, and anything can set us off. These days long lines, traffic jams or slow drivers are the perfect excuse to get on our Facebook pages and leave passive-aggressive posts, such as, “Dear Mr. Slow Driver McGoing Nowhere, I’ve got places to be so HURRY UP … ” But we’d be a lot less irritated if we allowed ourselves more time, slowed our pace, and enjoyed the ride; and we’d spend more time posting about the little things we notice or the things that make us laugh or smile, rather than what drives us nuts.
4. Don’t Put Things Into Perspective
Have you ever been upset over something when someone stops you mid-sentence to tell you it can’t be that bad, there are starving children in Africa, or that you’re lucky to even have a job because millions of Americans don’t? There is a time and a place for thinking about the suffering in the world, and when you’re angry or upset is not that time.
Understanding true suffering takes compassion and empathy, and it requires our full attention. When you’re angry, you’re running on a short fuse, and adding guilt and sadness to that fuse isn’t putting it out, it’s only making you feel worse. If you really want to gain perspective in a meaningful way, take some time out of your life when you’re feeling understanding and willing to think about other people’s problems and what you can do to help. Being compassionate when appropriate will carry over into your daily life. It will help you gain understanding of true strife and it will make the biggest difference in the way you approach trivial concerns.
5. Do Good
As in the last point, making an impact in the world will carry over into your daily life. Do something selfless on a regular basis. It will make you feel good, you’ll be helping others, and it will give you a sense of what really matters in life. Doing a little good every now and then will help you understand what you truly value, what’s important and what’s not worth it.
6. Do Whine …
… when it really matters. In an effort to stop complaining, don’t put on a happy face all the time to mask a greater problem you’re dealing with. Vocalizing why you hate your job could lead to a drastic effort to change your career, and it could really pay off in the end. Telling a loved one or your boss you don’t feel you’re being treated appropriately can open up a meaningful conversation and a significant step toward change. Filter out the small complaints in order to be heard when something is really bothering you, and keep an open line of communication between you and anyone else involved.
The Boy Who Whined About The Wolf
Sometimes there really is something pressing in our lives that needs release, and it’s a matter of finding the right person who will listen to our troubles with compassion. Be aware that constant complainers may have a bigger issue underneath all the trivial gripes, so instead of cutting people off or telling them to stop whining, listen to them. And when it’s your turn, the people you care about will listen to you. But don’t be the person who cried complaint; make sure you’re putting the small stuff aside and focusing your energy on the positives in life.