Replacing Complaints with Thanks

A practice that might not have stuck if not for one question.

Once upon a time, I decided to give up complaining for Lent. This confused my sister who asserted that I don’t complain frequently enough or bitterly enough or something to give it up for Lent.

”But I feel like I complain all the time, and that’s what I’m working to get out of my system,” I told her.

She didn’t have a response for that, or maybe Mom shot her a look, but her husband did: “How are you planning to do that?”

And then I was on the spot to speak my well-thought plan aloud.

Three Steps to Converting Complaints

  1. Pinpoint the contention that has warranted complaining.
  2. Reframe the complaint as a neutral/sterile/clinical fact.
  3. Ask yourself, and come up with an answer to, the question: What about this fact/situation is worthy of thanks?

Saying these steps to my brother-in-law (however many years ago now) made the plan more real. And I feel it really has helped, both the method and the nudge of accountability.

In my own experience with this, I’ve consistently found these two general things to focus on to find the gratitude:

  1. Always I am able give thanks for the opportunity to practice patience and understanding.
  2. Sometimes I give thanks for the opportunity to create a solution for whatever “ails” me.

This is one of the ways I tell myself better stories to better myself. How about you? How are you shifting the stories you tell yourself to meet the world a little stronger?

Also published on Medium.