Like to complain? Time to see what good it's doing you


If you like to complain, you're in a pretty big club, but the important point is not how many people are doing it but how much it improves your life.

I've done more than my share of griping over the years. We all grumble about our job, our health, and our single status. It comes naturally to us.

But this article is going to approach complaining from a different perspective: the one thing we can do to make it worthwhile.

Instead of just telling you to stop it, I'd like to give you some tips on how to make complaining effective.

Taking a 'Like to complain' break

Coffee breaks at work are one of the most common venues for gripe sessions. We air our grievances to our fellow employees and listen to their problems in return. When break time is over, we go back to work angry and annoyed instead of refreshed. It's a contagious epidemic of bad attitude.

While there's some therapeutic value in blowing off steam, more often it sets up our mind so future irritations will be met with frustration instead of calmness.

At some businesses, employee complaints or suggestions are met with sensitivity and policies are changed. In other cases, suggestions are ignored or met with downright hostility.


Here's the bottom line: If you're dissatisfied with your job, you have the choice of learning to like it or finding a new one. But here's a warning. No workplace is perfect, and you're never going to find one that's 100 percent to your liking.

The more mature approach is to put workplace flaws in their proper perspective. It is possible to learn to live with them. By shifting your focus from the negative aspects of your job to the positive, you can reduce your frustration to a tolerable level.

Our expectations for the workplace are usually unrealistic. We want a job that's exciting, challenging, fascinating, glamorous, and stress-free. Oh, and we want to earn piles and piles of money too.

That's not a grown-up view of work. That's a fantasy.

When you learn to expect obstacles, expect illogical policies, and expect hard-to-please supervisors, you won't be shocked when they happen. Being ready for nuisances takes much of the stress out of them.

Here are Jack's two ironclad rules about changing jobs:

Rule 1: Never, never, EVER quit your job unless you first find a new job to step into immediately.

Rule 2: Never, EVER break Rule 1.

Situational disgruntlement


We all like to complain about our singleness. In America, complaining is more popular than baseball. It's the real national pastime.

President Teddy Roosevelt said this: "Complaining without offering a solution is just whining."

Yeah, we're experts at whining—including me.

Most of us, when we have a medical problem, consult a licensed professional. Putting things off or ignoring the problem hoping it will go away can make things worse. The time to go to an expert is before things spin out of control.

When it comes to an irritating situation, we have three basic choices:

  • Whine about it but do nothing to change it.
  • Accept the situation but stop complaining.
  • Change the situation.

Option #1 is undoubtedly the most popular. It's easy to complain; it's hard to actually do something. Grumbling gives the illusion that we're doing something but we're only fooling our self. And you know what? We can spend a lifetime fooling our self.

Option #2 is very difficult to pull off consistently because we have an almost pathological addiction to complaining. However, it can be done.

Option #3 is surely the rarest path taken. It demands not only courage but the ability to persevere if the change doesn't produce a better situation.

Where does God come in?


If you're a Christian, God should be your Guide in important life situations. Sometimes answers in the Bible are obvious, sometimes not. Talking with your pastor can be a smart course to take.

Remember, God may put you in a distasteful situation to grow you up. He may want you to stop complaining, or he may want to change your situation so you can move up to the next rung on the ladder of spiritual growth. That's when a wise pastor may be able to help you discern what's going on.

If you like to complain, is that a sin? If you're complaining about a person, I think it is. If you're complaining about a company or institution, probably not. Dissatisfaction can be a virtue when it's about injustice, but follow through and do something by trying to get the situation changed.

In the big picture, the world has changed for the better because someone complained then made a difference.

In the small picture, your own life, dissatisfaction is the first step toward improvement. God gives us courage and helps us in our sanctification. With his help, we can change our own little world as well as ourselves.

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