5 ways to be positive in a negative world (or: how to help complainers)

So, I’m about halfway into this 30 day no complaining challenge. Daily I mark a big X on my index finger to remind myself that I need to stop pointing my finger at YOU and take responsibility for my mouth.

Words are, of course,
the most powerful drug used by mankind.

-Rudyard Kipling

You know what makes not complaining the most difficult? The fact that complaining is part of our vernacular. It’s what we do. We hang out and complain about stuff.

That may be your vice – the fact that everyone you rub shoulders with complains. Try as you might, you just can’t stop complaining because everyone around you is complaining. Even strangers find commonalities by complaining about the weather or the long line at the store.

So what do you do to change this norm? How do you transform a negative environment into a positive, uplifting, safe place?

Here are 5 simple solutions that will help you curtail the complaining around you.


Flip it

The easiest solution is to flip it. Just change the subject. If your friends or family or co-workers are complaining about something, bring up another subject entirely.

Talk about that cute puppy video you saw on YouTube or tell this joke (this is the only joke I ever remember):

A man walks into a bar. The next man ducks.

That will be sure to get a laugh.


Flop it

If you can’t flip it, then flop it. Talk about what you’re grateful to have. Gratitude stops complaining in its tracks.

For instance, if the group is complaining about the cold weather, say,

“I’m super grateful I’m not homeless living outside in this weather.”

Hopefully this turns the conversation to more useful, meaningful topics.


Soak it

Sometimes, it doesn’t work to change the subject OR replace it with gratitude. People just want to complain. They keep spewing negativity everywhere and it starts to affect more than just your group. They start pulling others into the conversation and it becomes a big, congealed, yucky, mess.

When people join the complaining mob, it’s like you’ve thrown a bucket of gas on a big bonfire. It grows and gets more dangerous.

That’s when you soak it.

Instead of gas, you become the water.

Sometimes you just have to stop the complaining bluntly.

So, if the group is talking about someone who isn’t present to defend him/herself, YOU do it.

“I actually think she’s pretty amazing. She’s a pretty good friend.”

Usually, complainers don’t know what to do with a good soaking. Hopefully that will split up the group and put out the fire.


Knock it

Most likely, because you’re human, you might just get pulled into one of these disastrously negative spewing sessions.

And when you realize you’ve done it, you need to knock it off.

Shut your mouth.

Be silent.

Or, maybe you’re somewhere with people you don’t know well and you don’t just want to start soaking them.

Then don’t contribute.

Sit silently.

Eat your carrots quietly (be the coffee).

You’ll be surprised when they notice your silence because they feel sheepish talking that way in front of you.


Block it

You’ve flipped it. You’ve flopped it. You’ve soaked it. You’ve even knocked it.

But these complainers are addicted.

So, maybe it’s time to consider the company you’re keeping.

That doesn’t mean you aren’t kind to them. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them (they might be family).

But you take on the characteristics of the peeps you call friends.

It might be time to block it.

Limit your time with the complainers.

Because if you aren’t changing them, they’re probably changing you. So if you want the POSITIVE to reign in your life, you’ve got to subtract the negative influences. Find friends who fill their mouths with life and share it. Find the ones who consider what they say before they spit it out.

Just like you are what you eat, you become the people with whom you choose to share your seat. If you hang with them, you’re going to be like them whether you like it or not.

So choose carefully. Complainers don’t make your world better. They make your world bitter. And we want to live the best lives EVER…because today could be our last day. So do you want to spend it complaining? Let’s spend our days richly, choosing joy and living loud.

So, flip, flop, soak, knock and block. Use these tools to make our world a better place. Be the change, peeps, be the change.


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