Stopz yer b3lly4ch1ng
October 13, 2008 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Should I try to stop complaining about thing?

I'd say I'm your garden variety non-optomist, non-pessimist. I'm not particularly depressed all the time but I wouldn't classify myself as a particularly happy person either. I pretty much do my thing, have a fair amount of anxiety but also have a good social circle, good friendships, some really good people in my life who I love. Very close to my parents, feel blessed for them.

But I feel like I complain a lot and have a fairly big pool of negativity in me. I often wonder if I should really try to be more positive and complain less, and make an effort to see things positively, but on the other hand sort of respect myself and others for seeing things the way they are and not being namby-pamby about things. And percieve, rightly or wrongly, a kind of cultural amnesia in this country, where people can never admit that something sucks without it being some sort of learning experience.

Sometimes I feel this is as much biological as anything else, that for whatever reason I'm more or less programmed to be overly serious and a bit negative, and that I should just accept that about myself. Other times I feel like it's something that I developed over time and that I should make every effort to get past it. I do know that it stops me from enjoying things sometimes, mostly when I'm really anxious about things.

So I'm torn. Should I make an effort to be more positive, to always see the best side of things? Is that possible? Or should I accept that I see things for what they are, and that when things are positive I'll know they are, and work on just being able to see the good things for good things when they are, and being thankful when they are, and when they suck, just being open to feeling sucky about them?

Thanks
posted by sully75 to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hard to tell what, exactly, you're asking. But generally, no one enjoys being around people who complain all the time. So yes, you should try to stop complaining about thing(s).
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 9:54 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Meditate.

The trick is to be not so sad or angry and not too happy. Just be a little sad and a little happy.
posted by Zambrano at 10:01 AM on October 13, 2008


Yes, you should try to stop complaining about things (so much).

Life is too short.
posted by carsonb at 10:03 AM on October 13, 2008


Or should I accept that I see things for what they are, and that when things are positive I'll know they are, and work on just being able to see the good things for good things when they are, and being thankful when they are, and when they suck, just being open to feeling sucky about them?

I did read your whole question before responding with the above, and stand by my response, but it also occurred to me to remind you that the way you see things is really only one perspective. Truth is multi-faceted and almost always inaccessible as a whole to those who do not consider other ways of seeing things. When you complain about something, consider that the matter may not be with the something but the way you see that something.
posted by carsonb at 10:08 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


There is a difference between having fun and being happy. There are ups and downs in life. Even when things suck you can still be happy, if you decide to be.
posted by Daddy-O at 10:16 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hard to know what kind of things draw your complaints, so this might not help, but as I see it, it takes no talent to point out what's wrong - most people can already see what is wrong, even if they are saying nothing. It takes more talent to see a real-world path to how something could be better, and act accordingly. So there is not merit in complaining unless the complaint is expanded to bring the seeds of something better. Don't concern yourself with activities that lack merit.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:21 AM on October 13, 2008 [10 favorites]


Related to harlequin's comment: I used to be a complainer. I stopped the habit by deciding that I wasn't allowed to complain about something unless I was actively trying to change it.

Also, pessimism and anxiety are best buddies. You'll have less anxiety if you can accept that whatever happens will simply become something that happened and that you'll deal with it calmly. Buddhism can be helpful with that.

This kind of equanimity doesn't turn you into a "namby-pamby" person. It does help you see clearly what is working and what isn't and efficiently choose the most effective response.
posted by PatoPata at 10:30 AM on October 13, 2008


On the one hand, complaining about things does increase negativity, true. But on the other hand, you just wanna bitch about the stuff that you CAN'T control.

So I've come up with a third alternative to "complain and propose a solution" and "shut up" -- sometimes I'll go with "complain, but make it funny." There is an element of the absurd in a lot of the problems that we all face, and if you can find that and laugh at it, and if you can complain about it out of that place -- not "listen to how I have been wronged" but rather "this is just so NUTS I have to laugh at it, right?" -- that MAY help.

I do understand this is just a matter of spin. But I also know that if I'd come home from a school vacation wailing to people about how I fell in sea urchins and the dumb school nurse didn't know how to treat me and we had to talk to the guys in the kitchen and it sucked, I would have depressed everyone, but instead by going for the funny, I now have a rollicking story of, "okay, top this -- I fell in sea urchins, and the poor school nurse didn't know what to do so we both ended up consulting this guy in the kitchen -- wacky, huh?"

And yes, I really DID end up falling into sea urchins and the school nurse and I ended up talking to the guys in the hotel kitchen to get advice -- until they started telling us things like putting Vick's Vaporub on it, at which point the nurse told me that they were morons and she was going to "make something up." She sent me into a boiling hot bath and made me sleep with socks on all my extremities, and somehow that worked. I sometimes to this day order urchin at sushi bars to exact my revenge.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:52 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reality is that there are lots of things in the world to complain about: wars, social injustice, oppression, discrimination, rapes, murders, etc. (Your list of things you complain about might be more mundane, but, the essential truth remains the same, there are many things to complain about.) However, there are also a lot of things in the world to celebrate and be grateful for as well: love, beauty, sex, friends, connection, insight, awareness, etc. (Again, your list might be different.) The real question is how are you going to spend your time with each of these.

For me, complaining (or calling attention to the negative) is important when I am trying to create change or when it seems that others around me do not recognize it as a negative. (For example, pointing out an example of discrimination that others around me missed.) Otherwise, I would rather spend my time celebrating the great things in my life.
posted by hworth at 11:11 AM on October 13, 2008


I feel that it's generally great to be positive, but I think that what the Empress is getting at is that there's a social aspect to sharing misfortune or problems. Obviously you have to watch it or you just get a load of people being miserable, but I feel it's okay to say 'this is a bit shit but I/we are dealing with it' - acknowledge something bad, but don't let it actually get you down.
posted by Not Supplied at 11:20 AM on October 13, 2008


sort of respect myself and others for seeing things the way they are and not being namby-pamby about things Not knowing what you're complaining about means there are two halves to my personal policy.

Re individuals and small rudenesses--you don't see things the way they are. None of us do. I don't know if someone is feeling sick and needs to get home quickly, or just got dumped, or was kept up all night by their baby. So my rule is no complaining about other people--the rude cashier, the driver who cut me off, the annoying coworker. Funny stories are allowed, but the run-of-the-mill everyday annoyances are out. If I'm still thinking about them by the time I have someone available to complain to, that means I'm obsessing, and wasting my valuble zen-ness!

This 'not being namby-pamby about things' really only applies to the bigger things. It's not being namby-pamby about things to let the little annoyances slide. If it's a big enough deal to warrent complaining, complain to someone who matters and can do something about it--the manager of the store, your state representative, the company whose child-labor policies you don't agree with.
posted by lemonade at 11:37 AM on October 13, 2008


Should I try to stop complaining about things?

On behalf of all of those of us who have to listen to you, yes, please do.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:30 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


People that complain all the time are irritating to be around.

For some additional incentive to stop: There is a girl I know who thinks she has "a good social circle, good friendships, some really good people" that she loves, but those same people can't stand how much she complains about everything and talk about her behind her back. Some people really are too nice to tell complainers that they drive them insane and they're not sure why they hang out with them. Others don't say anything because they know if they do, the complainer would then bitch about that and fume over it, well... forever.

Let's hope you're not in her position, but just in case, it never hurts to quit complaining about everything.
posted by Nattie at 4:39 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


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