One year ago I took the no-complaining challenge. The aim? To go 30 days in a row without complaining. The method? Wear a bracelet on your wrist and switch it every time you complain – try to keep the bracelet on the same wrist for a month.
After a year of monitoring my complaints via the bracelet (actually 3 different bracelets that all eventually snapped from constant changing), I managed to go 17 days in a row without complaining.
I’m not great at making clickbait titles. No one is gonna give me a medal for not complaining for less than 3 weeks. But my question to you is this: Have YOU gone 17 days in a row without complaining?
Have you gone 10 days in a row without complaining?
What about 7 days?
I’m guessing not because it’s hard! Damn hard.
After a year of valiant efforts, I hit 17 days in a row (after many week-long stretches) and was convinced I would easily hit a month without complaining.
Then I took a 3-hour trip during rush hour to the center of Tokyo to get some government paper work done right when the thermometer was approaching 40 degrees and the humidity was close to 100%….
And I said: “It’s too damn hot!”
I caught the complaint the moment it left my lips. But it was too late. And was quickly followed by my second complaint in 17 days: “Oh, bollocks. Now I have to start over.”
I will give you an update when I hit 30 days in a row but, for the time being, I learned a bunch of lessons from going 17 days in a row without complaining and I want to tell you them now.
Lesson 1: The first 3 days are the hardest
My advice for the first three days during your no-complaint challenge is this:
Shut the hell up.
Seriously. Zip it.
The reason I kept failing was because I was talking too much.
Even if I was in a good mood, more talky = more chance to complain.
Most complaints are unconscious.
If we were actually conscious of them we wouldn’t do them because we all know that complaining is an ugly personality trait and no one wants to hear that shit.
So, first few days, keep your talking to a minimum and watch yourself like a hawk.
I also recommend you talk sloooooooowwwwwww.
You’ll be able to catch a complaint when it’s barely out of your mouth and you can cover your mouth like a naughty child and shut up before you do the damage.
Lesson 2: Days 3-15 = easy street
Once you’ve got the first few days under your belt, you hit a flow state.
You don’t want to break the chain and start over (it’s kinda like quitting smoking in that sense).
I don’t know what happened but the next 2 weeks were kinda magical. I was in a battle against myself so things just flowed smoothly and it didn’t seem difficult.
Lesson 3: You get cocky after 2 weeks
After 2 weeks of being in a flow state, you stop monitoring yourself so strictly (because you feel like you don’t need to) and that’s when a complaint slips out.
When it does slip out, it actually feels quite foreign and unpleasant.
You’re so used to not complaining that the rare complaint feels poisonous.
Lesson 4: You need motivation, not will-power
Motivation is different from will-power.
It’s also stronger than will-power.
Will-power = “Don’t complain… Don’t complain… Come on, you bastard, you better not complain!!”
- I want to have a happy marriage.
- I don’t want to add to anyone’s stress levels.
- I don’t want to die of a stress-related disease.
- I want to be the change I wish to see in the world.
- I want to be a calming influence on the people I love.
Those were my motivations and they helped me to get through 17 days of no complaining relatively pain free.
In the past, I’ve used the will-power method and it made things way more difficult and prone to failure.
Lesson 5: Track your complaints
If you’re not actually tracking the days you’ve gone without complaining, it’s easier to kid yourself.
You might convince yourself you’ve gone a week without complaining when really you’ve only gone 4 days.
Use a calendar or get an app like Habit Bull in order to see a day-by-day visual representation of how long you’ve gone without complaining.
The longer the chain gets, the more motivating it is and you strengthen your resolve not to complain.
Lesson 6: You become happier when you don’t complain
A funny thing happened.
I used to think I was complaining because I was stressed.
It’s actually the other way around
The more you complain, the more you stress out.
Seriously – go a week without complaining and tell me you don’t agree with my feelings:
- All of my anxiety disappeared (money, relationship, future, anything).
- I got more stuff done despite doing it in a slower, more relaxed pace.
- I started singing and whistling randomly throughout the day.
- I gave people more compliments.
- I listened more.
Language truly does influence thought.
Eliminate the negative language from your life and you’ll eliminate the negative thought patterns and all the problems associated with them.
Take the no-complaint challenge
I’m hitting the reset button and once again aiming for 30 days in a row.
With such wonderful benefits after just 17 days, I can’t even imagine how much better my life will be if I can double the amount of time without complaining.
What about you?
Are you in?