For my American readers this is the US version of the article featured in Marie Claire French Magazine last week ! The » 21 Day Day Challenge- Stop Complaining » and the book « J’Arrête de Râler » is hitting mainstream and the French are very receptive! Who doesn’t want to live a happier life!? Special Report by Claire Schneider
This is the link to the Marie-Claire French Article!
Let’s Start the 21 day Day Challenge
What if we stopped complaining? ( or “bitching” about everything.) “It’s driving me nuts!” “ I can’t believe it! “ “ Jean-Pierre is not the only one to complain , we also do it. And more often than not! Indeed, people complain 20 to 70 times a day and it is from this observation that Christine Lewicki decided one day to stop complaining. In her book “ I Quit Complaining! “, she recounts her experience and kept track of the challenge she underwent: No complaining for 21 days.
What if we started the challenge, as well?
Quit Complaining: the challenge
21 days without complaining?
Christine Lewicki was tired of complaining. Her children, the mess in her house, his lateness … everything was an excuse to ruminate. Gradually, she realized that growling all day made her life miserable instead of alleviating it. Following this observation she launched a somewhat unusual challenge: No complaining for 21 days. And to make the challenge more real, she decided to wear a wrist bracelet that would change wrist each time a « complaint » would come out of her mouth and she would have to start from scratch until she reached 21 consecutive days! The wristband allowed her to embed the challenge in her brain and make her aware of her behavior.
Why 21 days?
Because it takes between 21 and 28 days to get rid of a habit and replace it with another. Indeed, our habits are deeply rooted in our unconscious and we tend to reproduce them without even realizing it. Just like lighting up a cigarette after a meal, we complain when the alarm goes off or when no one helps set the table … When one starts paying attention, we notice that we tend to complain mechanically. Saying « I’m tired » at every turn or « I don’t want to go to work tomorrow » every night have almost become automated language habits for some. So when you notice it and attempt to stop, it’s harder than what we imagined. But once the difficult period is over ,when we force ourselves not to complain, it becomes gradually more natural. Most people who have embarked on the adventure have invested up to 2 to 10 months to complete the challenge.
What is complaining?
It is mismanaging one’s frustrations. It is expressing some dissatisfaction by not attempting to solve the problem. It is being resentful with the whole universe for something that we could have prevented or something without real importance in the end. Sure, it would be unrealistic to say we can live without frustrations, but we must find other ways to manage them. In developing a new lifestyle for example (get up earlier to avoid being late and complaining because we are rushed all the time …).
Christine Lewicki has set a limit that complaining or rattling in her head did not count in the challenge. Phew! Because there, even the Dalai Lama would have failed. The « complaining » has to be embodied in words to become an elimination. Indeed, the words become our own reality. By constantly repeating that we are tired of doing everything at home, we forget that we could just ask our husband or the children to lend a hand, and we end up really doing it all ourselves grumbling under our own breath.
* Ed Eyrolles
Stop Complaining: good reasons
By being in control all the time (time schedules, a desire to be always on top …) we forget to let go from time to time to make room for the unexpected. By putting an halt to complaining, there is free space that is created to allow thinking about other more positive things. It is important to understand that happiness does not depend on external circumstances but how we choose to live out these circumstances. If happiness depended only on external events, how is it that some people who have nothing are happier than others who have everything? In reality, it is all about mindset. When you’re positive, motivated, and serene vis-à-vis the vicissitudes of life, you can be rich or poor, unemployed or CDI, and you will be happier than someone feeling stressed out and victimized.
Christine Lewicki even mentions a study * which shows that lottery winners were as happy or unhappy a year after winning the draw before the winning changed their lives. So why wait to have won the lottery, on vacation or have found a soul mate to be happy? Why not try to be here and now? And if we’re not, why not change now making every effort to become it?
Complaining creates a gap with others! We all agree on this: nobody likes the company of a professional moaner. The doting old aunt who is always complaining about her children, dogs and neighbors … No thank you! While the colleague who’s always smiling and always has a kind word doesn’t have time to complain.
Positive thinking develops our potential! This is obvious because complaining is done automatically, it requires no concentration! Reverse the trend and try to look on the bright side and find solutions necessarily demands becoming more conscious. But the consequence is that instead of being overwhelmed, we are relieved to have found a solution!
Restoring the place of happiness in our lives! The idea is to replace the « complaining » by celebration. It is always necessary to replace a habit with another. Christine Lewicki for his part decided to take the time every evening to celebrate the good things that happened that day. During the meal, each family member tells a positive element of his day.
* By Daniel Todd Gilbert, a great professor of psychology at Harvard University.
Some tips to stop complaining
Adapt expectations to the reality of the moment
And if we started to wonder why we complain? Sometimes it’s simply because we have not adapted our expectations to the reality of the moment. The author takes an example: when at the beach with her 3 children and she is not bale to read her magazine because she is disturbed every 3 minutes it makes her complain. It is clear that being at the beach with her 3 children is absolutely not the right time to read. Try the experiment and it will lead inevitably to frustration. The timing is more suited to family games for example. It’s all about adaptation!
Complaining is not constructive: it does not help things, it worsens the situation and that of our surroundings. Instead of finding oneself in situations that make us rattle, better anticipate. While on vacation with our friends, at work, or as a couple … it is useful to forewarn your entourage about things that irritate you or make you uncomfortable. The idea is to put limits and to avoid situations that can pollute our existence and put us in a bad position.
How about you, are you ready for the challenge? Would you be able to stop complaining for 21 days?