Sometimes, it’s the little things in life that just really get you going. You know, like the barista at Starbucks taking forever to make your latte, then adding an “e” to your name that doesn’t exist, or the fact that you hit 9 out of 10 lights on your way to work. Even when the problems are bigger, such as a tough patch with a friend or co-worker, constant complaining is a toxic habit.
“Complaining is something that effects your quality of life,” said Tom Casano, a Huntington-based life coach and founder of lifecoachspotter.com. “It impacts you and how you see the world. Even mentally complaining, when you’re not verbally saying your complaint but just thinking about it, can bring you down.”
With summertime right around the corner, there’s no need to feel the blues, so I got Casano to share eight ways to stop complaining all the time.
Here at Pulse, we’ve been on a meditation kick ever since reading about Cory Muscara’s work at Long Island Center for Mindfulness in our May issue. Turns out Casano is on the bandwagon, too. “It’s only when you’re really aware of it that you can stop yourself before a complaint leaves your mouth,” he said. “When you meditate and practice mindfulness, it’ll help you notice when you’re complaining.” You can start your journey to mindfulness using a meditation app and by getting some pro tips from Muscara.
“This is the most important one and I think it’s often overlooked,” Casano commented. Being thankful is a part of most religions for a reason. “When you write down a list of things you’re happy about, it changes how you feel about your own life and the world. It shifts the focus and makes you feel better.” Write down three things you’re grateful for before you go to bed, or download a gratitude journal app if you’re more tech-savvy.
Enlist a Partner or Spouse
Casano has used this tactic himself and finds it especially useful for people who are habitual complainers and don’t even realize they’re doing it. “[A spouse or partner] is kind of like an accountability partner,” he said. “If they call you out every time you complain, it’ll make you so much more aware of it.”
Accept Things the Way They Are
Often, there’s a judgement behind the complaint, such as when you feel like you’re waiting way too long for your bagel, and that can turn a small problem into a morning-ruiner. “When you complain, it adds an extra layer of disappointment,” Casano advised. “The moment you can say, ‘I can’t change it so I’ll accept it,’ you’ll feel better.” Take a deep breath—like you do when you meditate—you’ll be enjoying that delicious bagel soon enough.
Do More Things That Make You Happy
It sounds like a no-brainer, but in a time when we hold our work e-mails in the palms of our hands, sometimes enjoying ourselves goes on the back burner. Put it at the top of your priority list. “When you’re feeling good, you have less to complain about,” Casano said. Put on music you love, keep a favorite photo of you and your best friend on your desk or add some cheery details to your home. “Having more colorful decorations can help brighten your day.”
Find the Good
When a bad situation hits, find the positive. “When you can reframe [something unwanted] as, ‘How can I grow from this?’ that’s very powerful.” Next time you’re sitting in traffic, which given that we’re on Long Island will likely be on your way to lunch, see it as a way to practice your patience. This can help you later on when you’re training a new assistant at work. And by the way, given that it’s Long Island, that burger you patiently waited for will be well worth the trek.
Be Aware of Your Influence
Even if you’re not a parent or running the show at work (or both), you can still be a leader to those around you and maybe even boost their moods in the process. “By practicing not complaining, you’re learning how to be a role model in handling difficult situations without letting them get you down.”
Spend Time with Positive People
There’s an old adage that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If they’re always down in the dumps, don’t be surprised if you are too. “They really do subconsciously influence the way you view the world and your own mental reactions to the world,” said Casano. “The more time you spend with people who see the good in things the more you’re going to see that too.” Find positive people to spend time with or if a really good friend is constantly venting about the same things, politely nudge her to let it go.