What Do You Have to Complain About? (Challenge #1)

“There are times in life when, instead of complaining, you do something about your complaints.” ~Rita Dove

So often we tell ourselves that we’re ready for change, a new start, the beginning of a new life.

We even write down our plans for change like the goal experts tell us to.

We fine tune our strategy for attack and become consumed with visions of the condition the change will make in our lives.

We think and plan and prepare and consider. We hope and wish and pray and ponder. But too often, we never take it out of first gear. It stays in the heart and never quite gets down to the feet.

And nothing happens.


Does this sound familiar? Are you fed up with the treadmill of complain-plan-stagnate, complain-plan-stagnate, ad nauseum? Are you finally ready, after all this time, to take action? To let the heart speak to the feet and get your life moving forward again?

Bigger and Littler Things

Most of life’s big things are constructed of lots of little things, or at least of littler things. By pursuing the littler things, we develop the qualities needed for tackling the bigger things.

By losing a few pounds (a littler thing) on our way to peak physical health (a big thing), for example, we gain self-control over appetite and the ability to delay immediate gratification for longer-term goals. Those characteristics help us to reach the longer-term big things in our lives.

So it’s in that spirit that I now challenge you to step to the plate of your own life and make the person in the mirror the person you were meant to be.

I challenge you to complete 6 challenges in 6 weeks, each of which will help develop within you the qualities that can take you closer to your potential, living the life you most want to live.

(By the way, I’ll catalog my own efforts—the good, bad and ugly—in the comments each day. So come back to see how I do, see what I learn in the process and share your own story in the comments as well!)

Week 1 Challenge: Commit to a Complain-Free Week

Some people go through life complaining about the weather, complaining about the economy, complaining about the neighborhood, even complaining when there isn’t enough to complain about!

They moan and groan about anything and everything and nothing at all.

Their complaints quickly become the sound of nails on chalk boards, their voices shrill with the whine of helplessness.

It can be raining gold coins in their backyard and they’ll complain about the flowers crushed by the falling wealth.

Stop it!

Stop whining and stop complaining and start taking responsibility for your life! Get off your flabby side and get your action muscles into shape.

Choose a direction and start running in that direction. The important thing is to stop being so timid about getting your life into gear!

Whining is nothing more than impotence made loud. (Tweet)

So get off your butt and fix the problem.

Stop complaining about your health and fix it!

Stop whining about your life and do something meaningful with it.

Stop moaning about how sad you are or unsatisfying your marriage is or how disrespectful your kids or boss or employees or neighbors are and change things.

The point is to stop being impotent and start being proactive. Stop waiting for life to serve you and start taking responsibility for yourself—your thoughts, attitude and behavior.

Children whine. The immature complain. Self-responsible people are agents of change and sit firmly ensconced in the drivers seat of their own lives!

Stop watching life with the moans and groans and complaints of the passive victim and yank life into your corner. Life is what it is. Accept it. Now go do something about its rougher edges.

The Seven Day No-Whine Challenge

So, here’s the official challenge:

I challenge you, starting today, right now, to go a full 7 days without a single complaint. Without whining or moaning or groaning or criticizing or otherwise fussing over any part of life.

This will require you to see the good behind the bad, to recognize the positive even in the midst of the negative.

You’re not pretending there is no crap on the lawn of your life when there plainly is. We end up stepping in it when we pretend it isn’t there. You’re just choosing to pay attention to the fact that the crap is also fertilizing the grass.

Or at least simply clean things up instead of whine about the thing needing cleaning.

At first, it may simply mean that you proverbially bite your tongue to keep quiet when a juicy complaint normally would have punctuated your discontent.

But to truly honor the spirit of the challenge, you have to go beyond simply not complaining, to actually looking for the beautiful and noble and uplifting even when you feel like you’ve fallen head first into life’s steaming cesspool.

So, now your charge is to go a full 7 days without whining. Without complaining. Without criticizing (a form of complaint), taking full responsibility for your life, actions, feelings and circumstances.

Just This Moment

Take each day one moment at a time. Don’t think about a cold-turkey, complain-free week. That may overwhelm the compain-addicted amongst us.

Instead, simply refuse to whine or complain right now. And then right now. And right now again.

Before you know it, enough right-nows will have passed by that you will have made it through a whole complain-free hour. Then a day. Then two. Then four. And soon enough, a complainless week will have gone by.

But you’ll be changed. You’ll find yourself so addicted to a life of self-responsibility that your whining will even annoy you.

One Ground Rule: If you catch yourself complaining, stop. Apologize. Then find two things positive about the thing you just complained about and say them out loud. If you keep slipping, increase the number of positives to three or four. Then (and only then!) you can still count it as a complain-free week.

Challenges are Challenging!

Refuse to slip into old patterns after the week is up by getting excited about the opportunity to accept the next challenge in the series. Add personal growth to personal growth. Get addicted to that instead.

I know you can do this! It’s simply a matter of making the decision to accept the challenge, commit to it, then create the patterns and routines that make it easy to remember.

You may want to bookmark this post for easy access or calendar the challenge in your smartphone or write it down on a 3×5 card and keep it in your pocket. Every morning, review the challenge. Commit to it anew. Add it to your prayers or meditations or affirmations.

The freedom, relief, happiness and peace of mind that comes with the self-responsibility that a refusal to whine and complain implies, is life-changing.

Still, this may be harder than you think:

A mean boss. Traffic. Rude drivers. Injustice. Bad service. Bad food. Long waits. A ticket. A fine. Computer crashes. Fender bender. Lost mail. The team loses. Stubborn parents. Stubborn kids. Bad news. Bad weather. An unforgiving mirror. Aches and pains and the ebbs and flows of life!

So much to complain about! But that’s the nature of challenges. They’re challenging!

“The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he’s dead.” ~Bette Davis


As you make discernible strides to a whine-less life of self-responsibility, you will start to notice more happiness more often and a confident peace radiate out from a heart no longer enmeshed in bitterness and negativity.

Keep at it. Let the new habit of gratitude (the antidote to an attitude of complaint) and positivity replace the negative habit of the shrill, ungrateful whine.

This just may be your turning point.

Check out each of the Challenges in the series below:

Challenge #1: What Do You Have to Complain About?

Challenge #2: Is Honesty Really the Best Policy?

Challenge #3: Are you Finally Ready to Forgive?

Challenges #4: The Dangers of Pseudo-Intimacy: Unplug and Reconnect 

See you in the comments! And remember to come back to see how I do. We would love to read about your progress as well!