Do everything without grumbling or arguing.

Philippians 2:14

Point to Ponder:

When problems arise, resilient people determine what is within their control to fix and go about the business of fixing it.

Perhaps the change that’s nudging you isn’t about a new career, a new relationship, or a new home. It may not be a major change that you need to make, but a change in how you approach the everyday issues that frustrate you. Changing directions may be about changing your attitude to a proactive one.

What do you find yourself complaining about in your day-to-day life? A moody client, boss, or employee? Messy spouse? Clutter? Poor service? When it comes to learning and growing, a useful tool for making meaningful changes can be your own complaints. After all, the things that you complain about are the things that, if changed, have the potential to dramatically improve the quality of your life.

In a world sometimes filled with negativity and complaining, it can be tempting at times to complain for the sake of complaining. Instead, use your complaints about your life as an opportunity to improve your life. Ask, “What could be done about it? What request or change could I make to eliminate this complaint from my life?”

If your complaint is bad traffic, for example, you may simply have to make a decision to quit complaining about it. Make a decision to relax in traffic, accept it as part of your day, and find a constructive way to use your drive time—like listening to relaxing music or audiobooks or catching up with friends or family (on your hands-free phone, of course!).

I have found that complaining without taking action to do something about it is very disempowering—not to mention unproductive. When you stop having problems and start solving them, your life becomes more productive, joyful, and powerful.

I challenge you to notice the message that your complaints are sending you. Complaints often indicate that an expectation or need is not being met. Complaints continue to plague you when you do not make requests of others to change or do not challenge yourself to make changes that will turn the problem around.

1. Make a list of ten complaints.

I challenge you to make a list of ten complaints in your life (or more, if you have them!). Your complaints are things that just are not going as you would like to see them. From the friend who drains your energy with negativity to the client or boss with unrealistic or unfair expectations to the computer that is on its last leg, make a list of everything that drains your energy, unsettles or annoys you, or detracts from your quality of life.

2. Make a list of ten requests.

What requests could you make to address each complaint? Even if your complaint seems beyond your control to change, write it down anyway. If you have a complaint you feel at a loss to resolve, you can always take it directly to God in prayer. You may be surprised to see them resolved—sometimes even more quickly than the ones you feel you have more control over. Keep in mind that some of your requests will be of yourself. You may need to challenge yourself to do something different in a particular area of your life, or to take a specific action to resolve the problem.

3. Follow through with specific requests to solve the problem.

Asking for what you want is one of the keys to success. Often change is nothing more than a conversation away. (For step-by-step instructions on the best way to succeed at asking for what you want, read the chapter on this subject in What’s Really Holding You Back?) Have you been clear about your expectations? Have you voiced your dissatisfaction and requested a specific change or solution? Until you do, you may find yourself stuck with the same complaints indefinitely. Tired of a neighbor or coworker, or someone crossing your boundaries? Speak up! Ask them to make a specific change. You can simply say, “What you are doing is causing a problem. Would you please not do that anymore?” You may have to practice your words before you say them if you are shy about speaking up for yourself, but whatever it takes, take action by verbalizing specific requests.

My Challenge To You:

Stop complaining and become proactive about resolving the things that cause you problems. Write down your list of complaints, beginning with your biggest one. Then create a solution and move forward in implementing it!

Power Question:

What is the payoff I get when I complain rather than taking steps to fix the problem? What will it take for me to make a shift to being proactive?

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