Happiness Workout #1: No Complaints
Note: this series of short essays was an experiment to see if I could help my friends and family become happier. In its original form, it was an email sequence that was sent on a weekly basis. Due to other commitments, I ended the email sequence, but wanted to publish the content in case you, dear reader, find it helpful.
Welcome to your first workout! You might think we are going to ease into it by trying something quick and easy. You would be wrong.
Instead, we're going to try to do one of the most difficult Happiness Workouts possible. But it's no coincidence that it's also one of the most effective.
Rebuilding the negative thought patterns that take us away from happiness and towards suffering requires conscious effort. It requires removing a bad habit (complaining) and replacing it with a good one (spoiler alert: we'll talk about this next week). Now is the time to start putting in the work.
I'll check in after a few days and see how you're doing.
Stay strong, stay happy,
Week #1 Basic Workout: No Complaining for 7 Straight Days
No complaining about how your back hurts, or how the barista messed up your order, or the traffic this morning.
No complaining about your work, your spouse, or anything else in your life.
And definitely no complaining about the No Complaints challenge.
Maybe this sounds easy. It isn't.
You'll catch yourself complaining almost reflexively - we all do. Your first day, you'll likely slip many times. Your second day, you'll only complain a few times. By the third day, you'll be able to catch yourself before a complaint comes tumbling out of your mouth. And by the end of the week, your friends and family are going to ask you why you've been particularly cheery this week.
Here's the trick: never judge something unless you're explicitly being asked. A few examples:
- If someone asks you how you're doing and you start talking about how your spouse snores like a foghorn, that's a complaint. You brought up something negative unprovoked.
- If someone asks you about your spouse and you talk about wanting to put a laundry clip on their nose at night, that's a complaint. You brought up something negative when you could have said something positive.
- If someone directly asks you if you've been sleeping well and you say "not great", that is not a complaint. You've been directly asked to render judgement, so answering the question is allowed. Still, you shouldn't throw your spouse under the bus.
Week #1 Advanced Workout: Hold Yourself Accountable
If you're really serious about being happier this week, tell a friend or family member that you're going on a No Complaints 7 Day Challenge. Ask them to call you out if you accidentally complain, ideally in a very snarky and irritating way so that you don't do it again.
Alternatively, add "No Complaints" to your habit tracking app (I use Productive) and mark it complete right before bed (if you've earned it).
“Happiness is a state where nothing is missing.” — Naval Ravikant
This is the second in a series of short articles. Click here for part three.
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