If you were to ask anyone if they believed complaining could fix things, they’d probably tell you yes. After all, it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil, right?
And I used to believe this too, until Joan Bacon (Unity Minister 1987-2006), brought up the idea of giving thanks in everything.
When Paul said in his letters to the Thessalonians, “be joyful always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God,” he wasn't just spewing positive thinking rhetoric. He was giving instructions to experience greater faith and find the peace of God within us.
So where exactly does complaining fit in?
In 2007 I decided to participate in my first complaint free living challenge. I thought it would be easy! But it turns out that complaining is sort of like having bad breath; you only ever notice it when someone else has it.
I discovered through this challenge that complaining, in general, doesn't fix things. It doesn't deepen our relationships, or help others see our point of view. It doesn't improve our health or wellbeing. It does not increase our faith or our experience of the peace of God within us.
The reason that complaining doesn't make our lives better is that complaining puts all our focus on problems, so we'll walk by sight instead of faith. Like Job, when we take our eyes off God, we suffer because we lose sight of the wonder that is God.
My own complaint-free journey had a profound effect on my spiritual life. Now I notice right away if I am going into "complaint mode," so I can shift my thinking to praise and appreciation. And I've learned that all it takes to fix problems is to simply be clear on the facts.
If I'm at a restaurant, and my coffee is cold, I don't have to complain to my friends or family about how cold my coffee is. I don't have to tweet about how my server must be trying to ruin my day with that cold coffee. I just tell my server, "my coffee is cold, could I have a warm-up?" My problem is solved. And I didn't have to make anyone feel bad in order to fix my problem.
Giving up complaining can be difficult, because through complaining we often gain sympathy and attention. But complaining is just a habit, and as Job once demonstrated, habits can be changed.
If you are ready to shift your thinking from complaining to radical appreciation, I hope you'll join us at Unity of Yucaipa for our first ever Complaint Free Bootcamp. Click here for more information.
I have kept a gratitude journal for years. Gratitude is a great way to feel good, and focus our attention on the good that's already present in our lives.
However, as an experiment, I've moved away from my typical gratitude list to keeping a "wins" list.
The "Wins" list is just that - a list where you succeeded at something, big or small. Some examples from my wins list are:
- I made three promises to myself this morning, and I kept them all.
- I went to work out even though it was hard to get up.
- I was snack free today (even though I had to stuff Easter eggs).
- I made the choice to work on something that takes me closer to my goals, instead of watching Netflix.
- I used Netflix as my reward for accomplishing my previous choice and it really motivated me; I am so damn smart!
When we keep track of our wins, something very cool starts happening; we start noticing all the ways that God shows up in our life because God shows up in our life as our wins.
Everytime we make choice that honors our divine nature, and the divine in others, that's a win. And we call forth more good through us (for us, as us).
Examples of wins:
- Making a choice that takes you toward your happy outcome, rather than away from it.
- Keeping a promise to yourself.
- Choosing kindness rather than judgment.
- Completing a big project, and it brings you joy.
- Getting clarity on a desired outcome.
- Clearing up some unfinished business.
If you want to start seeing some of the ways that God is already showing up in your life, start keeping track of your wins, the big ones, the little ones, cuz they are all God.
Big, Big Love,