This week marks the switch to daylight savings time in much of the United States. Between altered sleep schedules, changing traffic patterns, and sunlight-deprived mornings, you’ll have a hard time throwing a rock without hitting someone who is complaining about the time change.
It may seem like a small thing, but when you start your day complaining, you’re sending yourself into a tailspin of negativity. Without even realizing it, we can find ourselves in the cycle of complaining one-upmanship. My loss of sleep definitely beats your night of tossing and turning. Spoiler alert: this competition never ends well.
A Neverending Cycle
Our world is filled with negativity. Everywhere we go, we see and hear complaints. Did you know that the average person complains 15-30 times per day, which adds up to 5 billion complaints per day in the US alone?! When you add in talk radio, 24-hour cable news, and social media, we can become entrenched in such unbelievable negativity in everything we do that it becomes hard to remember there’s anything to be positive about at all!
Most often, our negativity is rooted in envy. We complain about the weather because we think somewhere else is nicer. We complain about the government because we think another country has a wonderful government. We see other people enjoying activities and trips, and we become jealous that we aren’t able to do the same.
Instead of working towards the lives we want, we waste our time complaining about the lives we have. But if you can recognize that the negativity that we see everywhere is really rooted in envy, you can start to see where you need to change.
The Three Stooges
There are three types I assign to complainers:
1. Debbie Downer
This person is a constant complainer and has the power to turn any positive situation into a negative. Most notably showcased by an SNL character portrayed by Rachel Dratch, Debbie Downer has a laundry list of negative facts and observations seemingly ready on standby, just waiting to drag down any and every conversation.
This kind of person can even find something to complain about on a beautiful day! They’ll meet your, “Isn’t that a beautiful sunset?” with, “I hear it’s being caused by gases from the wildfires raging in the mountains.” They never miss a chance to rain on your parade.
2. The Gossip
The Gossip is not necessarily your traditional “he said/she said” gossip that likes to spread rumors. This type, rather, is guilty of what I call complaints made on empty ears—complaining about something to someone who can’t do anything about it. Essentially, this person is just complaining to hear themselves complain, when what they really need to do is take it to the person who can make a difference.
Instead of whining to a coworker that reports are due end of day on Friday, why not go to the person asking for the report and explain how it makes more sense for the deadline to be on Monday? Because this type of person is always happy to bring a problem, but never proactive enough to seek out a solution.
3. The Excuse Maker
This type of person has an excuse for everything, no matter what. We all know someone who uses the line “I’m not a morning person!” as a crutch for their bad attitude or behavior. If you’re someone who says things like, “Don’t talk to me before my first cup of coffee,” then you need to realize that you’re actively choosing to be grumpy until you’ve had your caffeine. When you say it that way, it sounds awful right?! Don’t forget—ultimately you get to choose the kind of person you’re going to be.
Time For a Change
The best way to figure out if you’re a complainer is to simply listen to yourself. Tomorrow when you get to work, sit in your car for one minute before you go in and reflect on all the things you said to yourself during your commute. Were you positive or negative? Were you building yourself up or tearing yourself down? Were you telling yourself how you’re going to conquer the day, or were you dreading going into the office because you have so much on your to-do list?
Once you take a good honest look at how you’re going into your day, you can decide how you’re going to change. Tony Robbins says, “Real change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.” When you reach the point that your complaining is affecting your life in such a serious way that it’s causing you pain, then you’ll finally decide the best way to move forward. Are you going to be the lazy man and hit snooze? Or are you going to attack your day with gusto? After all, it’s up to you.
Until next time—go sell some stuff!