In this 2-week experiment I tracked two actions – gratitude and complaining. I attempted to not complain for 14 days, failed miserably, and noted the details. Second, I tried to reflect on daily moments of thankfulness.
Day 1: Let’s Do This. The sun is out, spring is coming, and I walked the dogs without a jacket. In April. In Seattle.
In The No Complaint Experiment the author used a rubber band around his wrist as a reminder of his complaints. I adopted the practice, moving my own Bracelet of Remembrance each time I complained.
Day 2: Mmmm… Breakfast. I love the smells of breakfast – coffee (especially after this previous experiment), eggs, and sausage. Also coffee.
Day 3: Driving is Hard. I complained twice before 9am. Bad Driver #1 moved way too fast near the middle school. Bad Driver #2 turned left at a roundabout. I scowled, gave him “the finger (not that finger) in a circle” motion – the international sign for “Hey moron, it’s a roundabout!” I’m sure he appreciated my traffic lesson. I got to practice moving a rubber band from wrist to wrist.
Day 4: I Love Technology. Today I accessed a book from the library without standing up. Or reading. The Overdrive app is a work of genius, bringing audio books to my ears for free, courtesy of Seattle Public Library. Gratitude all round – to the author for writing the words, the library for acquiring access, and tech nerds for building the phone and the app. Welcome to the future, people.
Day 5: I Hate Technology. The next morning the audio book skipped a chapter. I cursed at my stupid phone and the dumb, broken app… and then moved my little rubber band.
Day 6: Working from Home. For the past 8 years I’ve worked as a full-time telecommuter. It was sunny and 62 degrees, so I extended our afternoon dog walk to enjoy a Vitamin D boost and maybe encounter another human. Of course, I did all this in pajama pants and Crocs.
Day 7: Happy Birthday. I turned 41 today, so I started with gratitude for the 14,975 days on the Earth so far. I had shied away from social media earlier in the year, but Facebook is a must-visit on your birthday. I enjoyed dozens of well-wishes from friends and family, and I was grateful for relationships both online and off.
Day 8: Zelda. I’ve remained an avid apologist for play in general and video games in particular. The Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game series of all time, and it had been many years since the last proper Zelda title. I’m grateful for the latest installment, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a masterpiece in game design.
Day 9: Free Stuff. Our neighborhood has a Buy Nothing Project group created to share items and services. Users can offer a gift or ask for support as needed. The group also posts gratitude to each other, which is really cool.
Day 10: Mmmm… Donuts. I would not have guessed Safeway would’ve been part of this experiment, but here we are. Safeway Monopoly combined two amazing things: the retro fun of licking stamps and free donuts! After indulging, I immediately revisited the 12 Minute Workout.
Day 11: Togetherness. If you’re looking for community, I have a sure-fire solution: Complain. We are all too busy, and burdened with bills and kids and dogs and clients and weather and wrong-way drivers!
Not complaining is hard! (moving rubber band)
Day 12: Connection. Today I e-mailed a mentor from high school to express my appreciation of his impact. We had barely interacted for 20 years, so frankly I was a little nervous to send the note. “Hey Coach – You were on my mind this week, and I’m trying to take some time to reach out to people when they’re on my mind…”
His response was more than I ever could’ve hoped for, starting with, “You don’t know how much it means to me to hear from you…” Our e-mail conversation made my week.
Day 13: Saturday! Sleep! Soccer! It was another sunny day, we all slept in (even the dogs), and I had soccer tickets. As the Sounders allowed three goals in the first half, I literally complained enough to break my rubber band. In the final 15 minutes they miraculously scored three goals of their own, snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat!
(I know! A tie! How exciting!)
Day 14: Making Long Hair Short. Courtesy of the aforementioned Sounders’ miracle comeback and a coupon from Great Clips, I enjoyed a free haircut! Look at that smile of gratitude!
For more on gratitude, I recommend this article, The Gratitude Journal, and this book, The Complaint Free World.
Photo Credit (top): Brian Brown, https://flic.kr/p/guLg2x
Photo Credit (bottom): Brian Chandler, selfie, iPhone 7. Edited with Irfanview, one of the oldest and best image viewers/editors of all time.