|Auvergne in summer, 2009. Personal picture.|
The French actor and humorist Jamel Debbouze was invited to a radio show the other day, to speak about his latest film. I heard him say: "We live in a country with freedom and safety, and free health care, yet Frenchmen are known to be depressed. But why?" This inspired me to go on a "No Complaint" challenge. You know what? It's damn hard. See, complaint #1 in the third sentence...
Thankfully, we are not all depressed, but we do complain a lot in Western countries in general. This is something that shocked me when I travelled to Thailand: locals were nice, warm and smiling, in a way I'd never seen in France (don't even get me started on Paris - ooh, complaint #2).
I have also noticed that negativity tends to spread, just like positivity does. All these little complaints around us add up, and make us focus on the downsides of our daily lives, instead of feeling grateful for the many upsides. Since changing the world starts with changing ourselves, let me present the "No Complaint Streak" challenge.
The rule is very simple: you are not allowed to complain about anything. Bad food, rain, annoying colleague, PS4 loading time, unpolite stranger in the metro, cat pissing outside of his litter, iPhone running out of battery, general rants about today's society and politics, Radio France's strike, nothing.
The challenge is to last as long as possible before a complaint splurts out of your mouth. At the beginning, it may last only a few hours. With time, maybe one day, two?
Now, here is a more formal step by step approach to the challenge if you need more structure:
- 1. Decide when you will start (it can be now, tomorrow morning, next Monday...)
- 2. Once you start, be mindful of your own words - you can also tell your loved ones about it, so they can spot the complaint for you, too.
- 3. As soon as a complaint comes out of your mouth or keyboard, note how much time passed since you started (one hour, three? A day, two?)
- 4. You can also note what you complained about, I find it helps with the mindfulness.
- 5. Note the improvements in your no-complaint streak, managed to stay "clean" of complaints for one more day? Cool!
- 6. After a week or so, note down what effect this has on you. How do you feel, not complaining as much as you are used to?
- 7. After this, you can go on or stop. This is a mini-challenge, meant to be small but repeatable how many times you wish
As for me, I have started today as I type these words, and my no complaint streak lasted for about 4 hours, until I blurted out a "Fait chier!" at an annoying e-mail. I'll update you as weeks pass, how long I managed to maintain the "no complaint streak". I'd love to hear about yours too.