Sunday, May 27, 2012

The 21 Day Complaint Free Challenge

I first found out about this challenge through Cleo, and thought "Sure, why not?"

Anything to improve my life. I do complain too much. All my catchups with friends involve at the very least some elements of bitching. I complain about work to my partner sometimes. I complain about life to everyone. How hard could it be to stop complaining?

As it turns out, this has probably been the most difficult challenge I've taken up in my entire life. While I haven't exactly challenged myself very much, I have done other challenges like doing yoga every day for 30 days, going on shopping bans for a year, and have never failed a challenge.

When you sign up to do the challenge, you have to install a widget on your computer that keeps track of how many days you have been complaint free. I had mine sitting on Day 1 for ... weeks. The worst was getting past Day 1 and then having to reset it back because I had forgotten and had complained. I suppose I could have been less severe on myself, but I never cheat in a challenge.

After about three months, I finally achieved this.

Three whole months to complete a 21-day challenge.

Now that I'm a 21-day champion, I'm going to give my two cents worth on this program.

Is it worth doing? Well, yes... in a way. It's always great to challenge yourself and to do something you think may sound impossible. When you achieve it, it's a great feeling that doesn't fade fast. It'll make you feel like a better person, or at the very least, have the knowledge that you are trying to be a better person.

Does it really change you? I still complain a lot. I worked out something extremely valuable while doing this challenge. I complain to vent. I don't complain because I'm a mean person or a whinger, I complain to get things off my chest, be it in my private journals or to a close friend. Doing the challenge suppressed a lot of this for me. The ideal behind it is that it's meant to encourage positive thoughts in its place, but all it did was somehow make me slightly miserable.

Where do you draw the line between saying something negative and a complaint? It actually says somewhere on the website in the FAQs (I think) that a complaint is saying something negative and not being able to do anything about it. I still think that a lot of grey areas exist... sometimes I made observations about negative things that couldn't be changed, but I didn't feel like I was complaining. Or maybe I was? Who's to judge? In the end, I decided that if I didn't feel that I was complaining, I probably wasn't. After all, complaining had a certain element of venting involved, and I would experience some release. So, I should know when I was complaining.

TLDR Life isn't rainbows and jellybeans. Complaining is healthy so long as it is not excessive. So long as you do not make the friends around you sponges for your problems. Not a challenge I'd do again, but certainly something that added to my self-awareness.

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