From August 1st to August 15th I fasted from complaining. Yes, that’s right. No more “I’m tired” grumbles at 3 p.m. at the office. No more yelling at cars that cut me off on 440. No more snapping at people for not listening. The highlight of the two week period? I validated that I’m not a terrible, negative person, AND optimistic people tend to live longer according to some studies. And I’m optimistic enough to believe these studies are the correct studies.
So here you go: The top five things that occurred when I stopped complaining, both the good and the bad.
1. I realized that I don’t sleep enough. The biggest complaint that I had to bite my tongue on?
“I’m tired.” Or a variation of “I’m exhausted.” American culture leaves us seeking to thrive off of no sleep and Starbucks. And is it really worth it to feel that negativity quite literally every day? I found myself almost getting annoyed with myself for being so tired. On the same note, I annoyed myself when I felt like uttering the complaint, “I’m starving.” No, Alexii. You don’t actually know what it really means to be hungry (so maybe you aren’t THAT tired either).
2. I argued less: I’m not exactly one to pick a fight, but I noticed how many stupid arguments I can have in a week. If my fiancé Alex said something I disagreed with, I couldn’t immediately react. This helped me not snap — and more importantly it made me think before anything came out of my mouth. I’m pretty sure we’ve been told since kindergarten, “Think before you speak” but I noted how often I neglect this simplest piece of advice.
3. Angst builds up. Here’s the deal: this experience was overall a positive experience for me. It truly made me reflect on my reactions to situations. That being said, sometimes people just need to vent. There was one day that I came home completely exhausted and slightly emotionally distraught. Instead of engaging in conversation with my friend that was at my house or my fiancé, I straight up shut down. It’s almost as if I didn’t know how to be positive in that moment. It was strange. And I went to bed early that night. But on a lighter note…
4. Negativity is a state of mind: When you stop yourself from uttering negative speech, you begin to notice how negative your thought process tends to be. Sure I didn’t verbally complain when I was tired or annoyed — but I still continued thinking them. And as much as negative speech can wear you down, negative thoughts are just as dangerous.
5. I prayed more. If I was forced to turn the negative into the positive, I turned to God. Perhaps its from prior experience–but for whatever reason, it happened. And my spirit felt nourished.
And at the end of the day? Shit happens. After my fast from complaining, I had what may have been one of the worst days I had experienced. Imagine tough conversations that were draining but necessary (and even worse after the conversation, nothing was resolved) compiled with other people’s negativity. Then add a few “first world” problems as I like to call them — a poor night’s sleep, a shattered phone, and a stalling car. What did I do? I complained. Where did it get me? Not too far. I noted a day later that things really aren’t that bad. People have good days and people have bad days — but the truth is? It’s all about your outlook.
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