Perhaps you have noticed that a lot of times when people talk to their friends the conversations tend to steer towards negative tones. We complain about our jobs, our commutes, our families, our other friends, the rude cashier at the grocery store, the ridiculously long wait in the doctor’s waiting room, the cost of the things we need/want. We pretty much complain about everything.
I actually noticed that this was something I was doing way too much myself. So I decided to make a conscientious effort to try to change that. And let me tell you, it’s not easy! Negativity has become so ingrained in our beings, that not complaining is what’s become the foreign feeling. But looking at the positive side of things is something we all should work on!
Now, don’t misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that you bottle up everything that’s bugging you. Venting and commiseration are very important for our species. Venting allows for us to work through things and to then hopefully either figure out a solution or to let it go. Commiseration allows for bonds between people to grow stronger. So, it is important for us to be able to do both of these.
However, if every conversation you have is you venting about EVERYTHING and if you only see the things you can complain about, a couple of things will happen.
First, those who you are venting to will quickly grow tired of listening to you. They may even begin to avoid you. They probably won’t confront you about it, because then they will become someone that you complain about to others. But they will find excuses to be busy if you want to hang out or they may cut conversations short.
Second, the more you complain about things, especially things you can’t change, the more you’re going to be geared towards seeing only the negative side of things. Also, if all you do is complain, but never make any effort to change the situation (if it’s something you can change, that is), the more you are going to annoy the ones you are complaining to! And if you can’t change it, complaining about it is not really productive.
So, here’s a way to try to break out of this habit of negative thoughts and talk. I call it the Two For One “Happy Hour” Game. Because hopefully after playing this game, you will be a happier, more positive person. (Yeah, I know, you were thinking you’d get two drinks for the price of one. Sorry about that deception!)
Here’s how the game works. Every time you talk about something that’s negative, you have to come up with 2 positive things. Bonus points for making the positive things about the same general topic as the negative.
As an example, the other morning on my subway ride to work I sat next to someone who refused to scooch a couple inches to her right to allow me to sit without being squashed. Yeah, it was annoying. No, I didn’t bitch, moan and complain about it. Not at the time it was happening, and not when I got to the office that day. As a matter of fact, I had to sit here and think up a good example to give you. And it is a good example, because if it had bothered me enough to complain, in sticking to the rules of this game, I have to come up with 2 positives.
Well, those would be:
Number 1 – I actually got a seat!
Number 2 – at least the woman didn’t smell, neither badly, nor of too much perfume!
And because they were on the same basic topic … being squashed on my commute … I get bonus points!! Woot woot!!
But I have been playing this game for a while now. So, while I may have been really annoyed by this a while ago, and would have let everyone at my office know what a crappy commute I had, the other day it wasn’t even a blip on my radar. Yeah, I noticed it, but it was like water on a duck’s back!
The more you play this game, the more you will naturally find the positive in things. And the less likely it will be that things will annoy you! Wouldn’t you like to go through your day happier and not as annoyed by everything?
Do you think you can win this game? Remember, you’re not trying to beat others for the winning spot. You’re trying to win a more positive outlook on life! That’s a much better prize!
Go ahead, try it! Let me know in the comments of times you won a round of the Two for One “Happy Hour” Game!
I’m of the ‘never explain never complain’ school. As you say, nobody wants to be around a complainer.
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We once worked with a woman who moaned most of the time. We had Monday Funday – yes you guessed it, Monday was her day off!
I think your idea is brilliant, anyone can try it.
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