When it’s not worth complaining !

5 Feb

One day during my 21 days challenge to quit complaining

“Today I traveled with my three daughters. Only 62 miles, but it seemed like we were moving very far away. My daughters are going on vacation for 9 days with their grandparents tomorrow, and I will be staying at their apartment in Paris to work for a few days. This morning, I spent an hour and a half gathering all their things and packing up the suitcases. I found some dirty laundry…that I had to wash, I looked for lost socks, I gathered the blankies and I chose which outfits to bring…

Later that morning, I felt ready, with the suitcases almost closed. I only had a few more things to do. I was in control of the situation. Then, I went to relax with my family for a few hours. Later that day, around 4pm, I decided that it was time to get on the road if I wanted to have an easy drive to Paris.

In the end, it took me another hour and a half before I was finally able to start the car. And during all that time, I really had to let go so I wouldn’t start complaining. I was frustrated because packing the suitcases seemed really simple but was taking a lot longer than I thought. There was so much to do…

I had to get the computer and the charger (otherwise I’ll have a big problem!).

And also the clothes in the washing machine (which ended up in the dryer magically!).

I had to look for the socks that my daughter left somewhere in the house. But where?

Then I realized that the camera was left in the garden.

Can’t forget to clean up the kids’ room.

Then I had to look for the CD who, according to my panicked daughter, had been offered to her by her cousin specifically for car trips.

At the last minute, I found a wet bathing suit that was left in the grass.

…And all this with three kids who were starting to feel the change and thus had irritable nerves and started to be clingy.

Yes, I wanted to complain. Yes, I wanted to whine. I felt the pressure because I was behind on my planned schedule and it felt like I wasn’t controlling anything anymore.

Ironically, what saved me was to let go and to tell myself that no matter what happened, things would still work out perfectly.

#I thought we would leave within 45 minutes and that wasn’t going to be possible.

# I wanted to avoid weekend traffic and it wasn’t looking good.

# I felt alone with this responsibility to not forget anything, and I was overwhelmed.

# My kids, with all their demands and need for attention, weren’t making the situation any better.

Finally, I told myself:

# It’ll take more time and there’s nothing you can do about it;

# If you’re stuck in traffic (even though everyone told you not to leave after 5pm), it’s not so bad;

# Everything will work out and you’ll handle it just fine (we ended up telling funny stories, listening to music and playing some games during the trip);

# Put one foot in front of the other and do your best, it’s not worth complaining about;

# You can’t ruin such a beautiful day!”

How about you, do you sometimes get in situation where you realize it’s not worth complaining ? What if we stopped letting the frustration of our ordinary lives stealing our happiness ?

Quit Complaining: A Step Towards More Happiness in 2015!

2 Jan

This is a very popular article originally published in FemininBio about my ” I Quit Complaining Challenge”  and translated here for the blog. A good New Year’s resolution to make for 2015, don’t you think?

Woman in pink dress performing dance on street lamp in city

“If you think you are too small to change anything, try sleeping with a mosquito in your room” Old African proverb

To complain is to spread negative energy and negative energy cannot create positive results. Therefore, when you go from complaining to celebrating you eliminate from your life all these moments of tension, stress and anxiety. You can go from living a heavy existence to a more open and lighter way of living.

This idea connects with a blog post in which I wrote that life is like a garden that needs to be cultivated. If you plant carrot seeds in your garden, you will harvest carrots. Don’t expect to harvest strawberries.

When you complain you are really planting seeds of frustrations, negativity, judgement, and victimization. You cant expect to possibly harvest serenity, happiness, respect and success in your life.

This will require a certain inner discipline, we can transform our attitude, our beliefs and attitudes in life  […]  Start by isolating the factors that lead to suffering. Then you can start eliminating the suffering factors and cultivating those that lead to happiness.  The Way of the  Dalaï-Lama, Art of happiness  (Robert Laffont, 1999).

Let me give you a concrete example how this challenge changed my life. Let’s rewind and revisit the very end of my challenge. After two months of trying not to complain for 21 consecutive days, I had just crossed the 17 day milestone without complaining. I was visiting my parents and family for the wedding of my cousin.

We were having lunch in nature near a  river and my heart  was over spilling with joy.  I felt open as if I was going to explode from joy. I was savoring each instant even though the day had not been such an easy one.  With the challenge, I was in the habit of cultivating seeds of happiness rather than water and tend to negativity and holding on to frustrations.

Thanks to the challenge that day I chose to overlook the fact that my hotel room reservation didn’t correspond to the reservation I had made, that it had great pictures on the website but in reality was in fact overlooking the parking lot in a commercial zone, that I had spent hours in a traffic jam, that I missed my husband after few weeks away, that I was feeling tired following  a very intense week of work.  I preferred to savor the present moment and enjoy this beautiful day. I was overflowing with joy.  For an instant, I even felt vulnerable as this unusual feeling was so strong. I heard my little voice telling me: “Do you really deserve this happiness?  Will something occur to ruin it”

I was so happy in the moment. This was a day I had lived fully 100% connected to the moment. The challenge had showed me that this kind of happiness was possible and accessible if I allowed it. I had been  able to create a powerful connection in my brain which allowed me to live my life with new found happiness and a profound delicious intensity.

Imagine the impact that this challenge could have on society at large? Remember that our words have a powerful effect on our lives. If every one on earth used the right and proper words, our reality would be completely different.  Can you imagine if we could make abstraction of our all our little woes?  If we could experience life as a gift offered to us. If we could take charge of our own life, do everything we can to change what we dont like  or change our attitude if  we are unable to change anything?

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Dont complain.” Maya Angelou

This challenge can lead us to define what we want, to invest in improving our lives, rather than just complaining. By putting our attention and energy to create a pleasant life, rather than focusing on what we dont like, we can:

  • Go from ” being against the mess in the house” to “put something in action to allow more order”
  • Go from complaining about poor public transportation or traffic  to giving  ourselves the means to regain serenity ( bring a book, download a show we love and bring our earphones, buy smartphones to get work done, buy a scooter,  or change work… )
  • Go from being a victim to an actor in our own life
  • Go from accumulating little sufferings to living a full and happy life

Imagine what would happen around the world if we would put all out our attention on the solutions rather than the problems?

Many people tell me my book is important especially for the French who are world renowned complainers. But in the end, I think that what ‘s more important is not knowing if the French complain more or less than other people but if complaining suits us as a nation at all. What could our country create if we would  just quit complaining?

It may be a utopian view to believe that a whole country would  quit complaining, but it is  a upotiia I personally like.

“Not a map of the world is worth a look if the land of utopia doesn’t exist.”  Oscar Wilde, The Human Soul and Socialism

“J’arrête de râler” aka I Quit Complaining!, Christine Lewicki

Celebrating the Holidays Aligned with Our Values

24 Dec

Decorating TreeThis is an article written by my sister, Florence Leroy Family relationship expert and co-author of the book we wrote together  ” I Quit  Complaining about my Kids {and Spouse}” , following my  French bestseller I Quit Complaining! that I wanted to share with you on this blog.

Celebrating the Holidays Aligned with Our Values

The holidays  are here  and as much as I rejoice about spending time with family and friends, I am also a bit worried about embarking on what resembles a tornado of preparation, meetings, meals and gifts. So in between traditions, customs, and what others expect, I invite you to take a minute to reflect and ask yourself: What would the perfect Christmas Holiday be like for me ?

What ingredients do I need to feel satisfied and happy?

Christmas is such a traditional holiday that we don’t always take the time to think about how we’d really like to celebrate it. The family habits and routine are in place: on December 24th we celebrate there and on December 25  we celebrate over there, champagne, turkey and butter Christmas log are on the  menu. Without forgetting the opulence of gifts to please everyone. It’s not easy to be the one going against the current. Yet, when we have kids the question of passing down values and traditions arises and we have the opportunity to question our ways to make sure they still work for us.

Sharing by inviting my children to contribute to this holiday: homemade gifts for the cousins, table decoration…

Family spirit  by being attentive to each person, by showing my children that even with our differences we can choose to get along together.

Solidarity  by choosing an action to do as a family to serve others: invite our neighbor spending the holidays alone, contributing some toys to an association helping families.

Simplicity by avoiding to fall in the commercial trap and by daring to give homemade gifts at times.

Without wanting to  completely revolutionize the customs of this family holiday which concerns every family member, you could perhaps this year honor one of the values that is dear to you.

Take the time to think about it and take the time to listen to everyone’s desires as well … this  would be a great start to be able to say: yes, it was a beautiful Christmas holiday!

Florence Leroy
Florence Leroy

Website /Blog More Joy!

In French Plus de joie!”

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part II

14 Oct

I Stop Complaining Office

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part II

It seems to me that to be able to stop complaining at work, it is important to understand why we complain in the first place? Then, we can identify the changes that we can make to EXPERIENCE our life at work differently.

So why do we complain at work?

We complain because we need acknowledgement. We whine because we want others to realize all that we do. Nowadays our need for acknowledgment is not always easy to be fulfilled  because  with the use of computers  our work load is less noticeable in the eyes of others. In reality, we complain because we’re going through a hard time and we want everyone to know about it. Isn’t that right?

We complain because we need to connect with others. Have you noticed how when we complain there is always someone who joins in? This is why we start complaining the minute we arrive at  work, We complain about the weather, about public transportation, about our emails overload, about our never ending list of things to do …. sometimes even before simply saying good morning!  Complaining is like a low frequency/low engagement conversation so its easy to vent around the coffee machine at break time.

We also complain to be seen and heard and to put ourselves on a pedestal. We complain to be right and to make the other people wrong, we say that they don’t understand, that it’s not our fault, and that the others are guilty ( sometimes we conveniently omit a few details to make ourselves look good and take no responsibility)

It’s easier to complain than to take action. I notice for myself that it’s easier to complain to accuse and blame others  and prove that we are victims than to roll up our sleeves to create change! It’s easy to complain, easier than to take a stand. When we complain we are often like the spectators on the benches at the sporting event commenting the game.  ( and judging the qualities of the players and their strategies) It’s so much easier to be seating in the stands than to dare get up from the benches and go on the playground.

Let’s be clear, when we complain we are not doing anything wrong. We are not hurting people after all. We all have in our surroundings a colleague who is always complaining and gets on everybody’s nerves. I would like today to address everyone else. All those who like me have a tendency to complain without being aggressive but who complain by habit. Those who have a tendency to endure all the little petty annoyances and ruminate all day long under their breath, among friends having coffee and even sometimes all in good fun!

The problem is that complaining doesn’t make things go any faster or smoother. We may think that complaining makes things happen and helps us get what we want but the truth is  that when someone is complaining at me I have only two possible reactions: I either get away and plug my ears ( to protect myself from the annoyance) or I defend myself and start a fight ( who likes to me made wrong ? not me)

Complaining prevents our emotional intelligence to kick in. Rather than looking for solutions, to use common sense and to try to communicate our needs, we choose the strategy to accuse the other and to blame them for our misfortunes.

I noticed that when we complain we think we are punishing others when in fact we are punishing ourselves. We hold on to our frustrations like a precious treasure. We transform our problems into dramas instead of looking at them like they are problems that we can overcome. We exaggerate, we amplify, we cannot find the right words…and in the end we spend our day with a grey cloud over our heads which prevents us from noticing the blue sky. In the end, we go to bed exhausted and as if we’ve had to endure the whole day instead of living and enjoying it.

It’s as if we get to work in the morning with the illusion that everything is going to go as planned without any obstacles, without any delays  and that everyone around us will comply and act according to our desires whether it be our colleagues, our suppliers, or even our work tools. So when things get sidetracked,  we start to complain and have a breakdown sort of speak. We are in the end the first ones to endure our bad mood ( and our bad will)

What about you? What do you get out of complaining at work ?  Need more concrete tips?

Be sure you did not miss Part I of article  and the special  5 tips to stop complaining at work!

Share it with your friends or colleagues :)

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part I

9 Oct
I STOP Complaining

Getty Image

No Complaining at Work: Myth or Reality? Part I

Let’s get real! We all have plenty ” good reasons” to complain at work!

Why? Well, first of all the main reason is that we find ourselves in a hierarchical relationship and we have to abide to a supervisor, rules and follow directions. It’s not really fun !

This affects our deep desire for freedom and our human nature rebels. We’d like to have more freedom to choose, to express ourselves. We are sick and tired of having to take orders and obey and often time we have a hard time making sense of what we are doing… so we end up complaining!

At work we are often under pressure. Of course there’s always too much to do in a day that is always too short, so in the end we get exhausted, we didn’t stop all day and we are never 100% caught up and it gets frustrating. We’d like to be able to control everything. We’d like everything to go according to plan but unfortunately it’s an unattainable illusion.

As soon as a mere grain of salt comes and compromise our plans we explode because we are already on the edge, tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes we feel like we’re going against the current and that we’ll never make it… so we complain.

With our laptops and our cell phones, the thin line between work and private life is compromised and it goes too far sometimes… so we complain to reassure ourselves that we are alive and that we are not just a machine working at the service of the company.

Our performance and results are constantly being evaluated and it can be an uncomfortable situation to be constantly feeling judged. It’s as if our professional success determines our personal value… so we complain.

We feel overwhelmed so we have a tendency to accuse others who also have much to do and may feel like us. It’s like an infernal spiral and in the end our work place starts to resemble the wall of lamentations.

Have you noticed how we often complain about the complainers? Hearing others complain rubs off on us  and we complain even more. Do you know that complaining is like bad breath ? We notice it in others but hardly notice our own, ( the same for bad driving !) Yes, other people complain and that’s why I wanted to be the change in my own life and start the 21 day challenge.

What about you, yes you have plenty of reasons to complain, but could you envision a day  at work without complaining?

In the next article, we’ll explore in more details what really makes us complain at work? Don’t miss it!

Pick and Choose Your Battles!

16 Aug Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller

Have you noticed how as parents we can  sometimes become stuck in our principles? We want to do such a good job raising our children, we want our couple life to thrive and we have such a very precise idea of how things ” must “or “should” be in our home and in our  life.  We know what we need and we want everything to happen as we have planned it.

  • Our children must be polite
  • Their rooms must be clean and tidy and the clothes put away in their dressers
  • They must stay at the dinner table until the end of the meal
  • They have to help us empty the dishwasher and take out the trash
  • The house must be tidy
  • The socks cannot lie around on the floor
  • The toilet seat must be up (or down)
  • Our spouse has to help us put the kids to bed
  • We must make love at least 3 times a week
  • …/…. (  fill in  your own blanks )

We have such a preconceived notion of how our organized and happy  life is supposed to look like that we  often become  really stubborn and spend our time complaining because it’s not happening the way we want!  We are also  afraid to become too easy-going and that everything we get out of control if we do,  so to counter effect we try to control everything and our daily life becomes a succession of complaints.

After I did my 21 day challenge  to stop complaining (which took about 4 1/2 months) I was able to reevaluate and pick and choose my battles with my children and my spouse. I will leave you with this quote from anonymous author ( if you know who said it please let me know)

“Before,  I had principles… now.  I have children!” Unknown author

Does this speak to you ?

10 best tips to stop complaining about your kids {and your spouse}

30 Jul
Florence Leroy & Christine Lewicki

Florence Leroy Parental Expert & Christine Lewicki Coach & Speaker  –  authors of the French bestseller ” I Stop Complaining about my Kids {and my Spouse}

This article was published in the magazine  PARENTS.fr  written by  Catherine Marchi  in psychology/family category published in February 2014 – “10 tips to stop complaining about your kids {and your spouse!}”

Are you sick and tired of  raising your voice every two minutes?  The authors of the book entitled in French  “J’arrête de râler sur mes enfants – et mon conjoint”“I Stop Complaining about my Kids {and my Spouse!”Christine Lewicki and Florence Leroy,  share their best tips to end this bad habit …
Florence Leroy & Christine Lewicki 4

Florence Leroy & Christine Lewicki

 In their book,  “I Stop Complaining about my Kids {and my Spouse!}”, Christine Lewicki and Florence Leroy have created a program to help you wean  yourself from this very bad habit. Here are their professional advice to create a new nature.

TIP #1 – Let Go and Choose Your Battles

We have so many principles when it comes to  raising our children. We have a very precise idea of how things “must” be in our homes.  So we spend our time complaining when things don’t go as planned. We are so afraid to be too permissive with our kids that we try to control everything.  To stop complaining, it’s important to let go of the pressure of the perfect parent and learn to choose your battles.  Identify what is really important for you and  in accordance with your values.  You can then get your message across with more power and increase your chances of being heard without complaining!

TIP # 2 – Celebrate What is Going Well

Even if things don’t  go according to your wishes, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone contributes to the family life.  Sometimes the efforts made by everyone may be too little (in your eyes) but they are made and if you don’t acknowledge them they will disappear.  ” Nothing I do gets noticed! so why bother?” By concentrating on the things that are not done ( or not the way you like it)  you don’t even notice what is going well. So turn on the radar ” the detector of things going well” in your family and take the time to name them and to celebrate what is going in the right direction.

TIP # 3 – Rely on the power of routines

A routine is every thing  that can be written on the little things you or your child must do each day. For example, after diner, get into pyjamas and leave the clothes on the chair, brush our teeth, go to bed and wait for mom or dad to read a story. Routines will not simplify our life if they are not clearly identified. To stop complaining, make sure that your daily organization does not create more stress than serenity!  If your  unmet expectations make you complain, they must be changed ( get up a little earlier, prepare your clothes the night before…),  until they become good habits for your family. Then you won’t need to complain anymore to get things done!

TIP # 4 – Make your demands face-to-face

Has this ever happened to you ?  it’s time to leave and you find yourself yelling at the bottom of the stairway or at the end of the apartment while finishing up getting ready in a frenzy. You end up complaining because your child is either not going fast enough according to you, or worse he didn’t  stop playing. What’s going on from the child’s point of view ? They are playing, having fun, drawing, they are in their world in the moment where the thought of leaving and getting ready is non-existent for the time being.  So when we address our kids with yelling and at a distance, our world doesn’t connect to their world. They don’t react. This is why it’s important to connect and make our demands  face to face and eye to eye. It’s in the eye that your child will understand emotion. When you take the time to connect visually at his or her height for example, you are creating rapport and connecting heart to heart and have a better chance to receive a positive response.

TIP # 5 – Sit on the floor and take your child in your arms

If your child is pushing your limits and you are on the brink of screaming, your reflex may be to flee or to shut him down ” Stop it you are driving me nuts with your whining” . However, what your  truly child needs at the moment, is your presence.  He is probably only acting out to get you attention. His reservoir of love it empty and as long as you don’t fill it up a little the situation will not change. Remind yourself that the more you want to push your child away, the more you need to take your child in your arms. Try it! Let yourself go, sit on the floor ( at his level) and ask if he wants a hug. Everything will be back to normal in 5 minutes.  It’s incredible how the effects of  physical contact can do good in your relationship.

TIP # 6 – Practice the mirror

When your child is having a tantrum and repeats 50 times that he wants a candy “right now” hoping you’ll give in, you yell at him to stop, you complain, knowing by experience that it won’t work.  Change your tactic and practice the mirror.  Reflect your child’s desire to show him that you understand and that you connect with his frustration. Tell him for example, ” I know, you don’t care that it’s dinner time, you want a candy right away, you really want a candy and it annoys you that your mommy says no.” the fact of feeling heard can satisfy a big part of his desire and he is more likely to let it go.

TIP # 7 – Express yourself to be heard

When we whine and complain, we think that the others ( our kids, our spouse…) will get that there is a problem and that they will do what we want them to do ( or stop doing what we don’t want them to do).  Something is not working for us and we use the strategy of whining or blaming ( unconsciously) to get a reaction.  The problem is that the complaining only creates the opposite of the expected reactions. The other person will either flee and ignore us or rebel and defend themselves. Nobody (including me) likes to be made wrong. If you want to stop complaining, you will have to learn to communicate in another way to be heard. Express what you are witnessing, what you are feeling, what you desire, speak in your name in the first person without accusing the others or making them wrong.

TIP # 8 – On the brink of an explosion, breathe, speak softly or sing

Taking the time to breathe deeply  when a situation stresses you allows you to get some air, to calm down and also to show the children that you know how to manage the pressure you feel.  Then if your child is agitated and screams, talk to him in what what seems like an exaggerated soft voice to try to understand what is going on. If you start screaming too things will only get worse.  Speaking in a low voice, will make your child  calm down in order to hear what you are saying. In case of extreme tension, you can also try singing. Don’t start singing a happy tune or a lullaby. Sing out your frustration ( own it don’t accuse anyone)  on a musical air you like.   Your child will be surprised and this will allow you to appease  your emotions without screaming and without harming your relationship. You’ve probably noticed that we always regret screaming!

TIP # 9 – Give yourself permission to take care of yourself well

This is one element that is the most important of this challenge . As parents, we have gotten used to sacrifice ourselves, our needs and desires after those of our children and our couple.  To succeed in quitting complaining, this will obviously have to change!  Dare to make yourself happy without guilt  and without thinking  “this  will bother others, it’s not reasonable”.  Taking care of ourselves is as urgent and important than taking care of others.  Give yourself permission to do what would make you happy, otherwise you will feel resentment towards life and you will complaint and resent others!

TIP # 10  – Agree to disagree and follow the principle that the one who is doing it is right

Make a deal with your spouse so that each of you can really have a place in the education of your children and in the manner to manage the family logistics.  This way each person will feel free to be themselves and to be respected. Often what makes us complain is the different way ( different from our way) that your spouse handles the situations.  The truth is that each person reacts with his values and his past, which is of course different. What seems normal to one can appear unacceptable  to the other. Accept the fact that even with their  differences and imperfections, the other is as legitimate  in the education of the children. This is a step towards more serenity and well-being. In the end, what is more important in our lives? The way, your spouse let your child go to school with uncombed hair or your relationship with each other?  Agree to disagree and follow the principle that the one who is doing it  is right. If your spouse is truly doing something that is incompatible with your values and routines , take the time to discuss it the two of you later calmly.

So there you are ….these are the 10 best tips! and there’s more…what do you do and please feel free to share your best tips!

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