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?
“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 don’t 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. Don’t 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 don’t 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 an utopia 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!
Love and Respect,
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