Kvetching means complaining in Yiddish.
It is something I have known since childhood. Having a Jewish mom and Jewish grandparents shaped my upbringing. Funny how we are influenced by our environment as children.
Since becoming an adult, I have noticed I complain more than I'd like to, whether it is because of my upbringing or not. In today's post, I'd like to talk about why we complain and how to choose gratitude instead.
Let's look at the definition of complaining: to express grief, pain, or discontent, but also expressing satisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.
What's the difference between complaining and expressing emotion?
In a conference, when you listen to a speaker, you may say, “that speaker was boring.” That's complaining, but you can also say, “I did not learn anything from that speaker.”
Reframing it as an emotion takes the complaint out of it, but it also gives you an opportunity to make changes. Feedback can be given to the event organizer or to the speaker to add something new or relevant.
One of the reasons we complain has to do with our circle of friends. Mirror neurons are types of brain cells that respond equally when you perform an action and when you witness someone else performing the same action.
Have you ever noticed when you're with a group of friends or a specific friend possibly, you tend to join. Everybody jumps on the complaining train. The mirror neurons are not only responsible for empathy, but they also cause this social dynamic of complaining.
Taking note of our inner circle and who tends to complain most can help us stop complaining. Even if you don't want to eliminate them from your life, you can simply be more aware of your conversations with them and the time you spend around them. Make sure you surround yourself with people who inspire you.
The average person complains between 15 to 30 times a day, according to Will Bowen author of A Complaint Free World.
I can attest that I'm one of those statistics. I know I can do better and you do too if you’re reading this. Bowen proposes the idea of a purple bracelet you move the bracelet from one wrist to the other wrist every time you “notice” yourself complaining. I bet there are times that you complain because it's become so ingrained in you that you're not even noticing it anymore.
We don't need a bracelet to monitor complaints. The more conscious you become, the more you become aware of it. You can move a hair tie from wrist to wrist. You can even just put tally marks on a piece of paper. Anyway that works for you. Wherever we bring attention to we can change but you have to first monitor it so you can make that change.
Giving yourself pause is another way to stop complaining. Observing thoughts is one of the reasons I practice meditation, it helps your brain to learn to recognize them. Take time to think about what you're saying instead of just letting it go through your head straight into your mouth Let's take a moment to pause and ask ourselves, am I complaining this time? Am I judging or am I expressing emotion? Is there a way to change this to express emotion?
This idea of pausing also lends itself to gratitude. You can choose to express emotion, I feel statements when you notice complaining bubbling up.
Just this morning I noticed myself complaining it was too cold outside for my training run. I changed that to “I feel cold.” There’s something I can do to control my temperature-add layers and express gratitude that I have the ability to go out and run.
You can squash the urge to complain just by adding more gratitude to your life. Complaining will diminish as you spend more time in gratitude. My favorite gratitude practice was shared last week if you want to learn more.
You don't have to chose between your personal and professional life. Here's my secret weapon for getting the family chaos to calm.