No complaining unless you’re doing something about it

Today I caught myself complaining. A lot. About nothing in particular… I felt misunderstood by others, I felt forced into things, I felt frustrated with coworkers, I felt like I didn’t have enough time to enjoy my hobbies. As the work day labored along slowly, I grew more and more tense. Everyone that I bumped into heard me say “I’m having one of those days and let me tell you all about it!” Complaining felt like a good release.

After lunch, I found myself in a conversation with a friend about some of the frustrations in his life. He vented about work and family struggles, he mentioned lacking motivation to achieve his goals. Or to even set goals in the first place. I suggested a few ideas that have helped me in similar situations. He didn’t seem satisfied with any of my suggestions. It seemed like, more than anything, he just wanted to talk about his frustrations and vent. I came to the realization that there is some value in venting for the sake of venting. But there must be a point of diminishing returns…

We are happiest when we work to fix the things that make us unhappy. That seems obvious, right? But many of us become stuck in situations that aren’t ideal and don’t make us happy. And what’s easier than fixing the problem? Venting about it. We love turning to others for support and a listening ear. Of course that’s important and valuable… but sometimes it’s a cop-out.

After giving this a lot of thought, I’m setting a new goal in regards to complaining. Whenever I catch myself venting to friends, family, or anyone kind and unlucky enough to listen, I am going to give myself a time limit before cutting it off (5 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever seems appropriate). When my time is up, I must attempt to find a concrete action I can take toward solving the problem.

And, most importantly… absolutely no complaining is allowed unless I’m actually doing something to solve the problem. If I honestly feel like I’m trying as hard as I can to find a solution, then complaining and venting is allowed (within the time limits, of course). But I am no longer allowing myself to vent about problems that I’m not actually doing anything about.

I’m willing to guess that once I put the effort into solving the problem… it won’t be worth venting about anymore.

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