Despite the snow piles in my yard, it is finally spring. That means it’s spring-cleaning time. I’m not known for my domestic prowess, but I feel like I must do something, anything, to will the warm weather to come!
So I’ve been thinking, I will do some spring-cleaning, but focus on something more important than my closet. I’m taking on a challenge, and I’m challenging YOU take it on as well.
For the next month, instead of cleaning out your garage, consider cleaning out the negative clutter in your life.
We could all stand a good cleaning out of those thoughts that keep us from being inspired or inspiring others.
A few years back, when I was a nursing home administrator, one of our team members enthusiastically shared something she had read about, an anti-complaining campaign.
At the time, our home had an incredible reputation and was filled with wonderful staff and residents. Yet there was, as I believe there are in most workplaces and personal homes, a culture that complaining was acceptable.
Even though I would describe the home as a positive place to live and work, complaining was the norm. Commiserating brought people together, whether it was in the lunchroom, around the copier or by the time clock.
Complaints were used to describe everything from our work to the weather.
Once I actually had a team member complain to me about another employee in a town hall meeting, “He’s too happy all the time. When I come in and I’m annoyed, why do I have to see him smiling and have him tell me he’s happy to see me?” Of course I then went on to complain about her and her comment!
The campaign, Complaint Free World, was started by a minister who recognized that word choice determines thoughts, which determine emotions and then actions. He found it wasn’t enough to just decide to stop using negative words though. It required conditioning.
So as a community, we embarked on the anti-complaining campaign challenge. It wasn’t mandatory, but those who volunteered took on a goal: go 21 days without complaining. We wore simple rubber bracelets from Complaint Free World. Each time one of us complained, we had to switch the bracelet to our other wrist and start again from Day 0.
Simple, yet, unbelievably powerful.
Most people would describe me as a positive person, but I was shocked at the number of conversations I had that involved a complaint or criticism. The campaign had an impact on all of us that participated and along the way residents started asking for the bracelets as well!
It’s been a few years and I’m ready to clean out the negative clutter again.
I’m challenging you to join me and do some spring-cleaning of your own.
Pay attention to your conversations. Notice how you, and those you are talking with, start conversations with a complaint or criticism.
Those words are creating clutter that needs to be cleaned out! They will only keep you stuck in a track of negativity. Notice them and commit to choosing more positive, optimistic words.
Fix the words and you fix the thoughts.
Some tips on taking on a 21-day complaint free challenge:
- The Complaint Free World bracelets are only $1, but you can use anything as your visual reminder to choose the right words, even a rubber band. The important part is to choose a tool and use it!
- Whenever you gossip, criticize, or complain switch your bracelet to your other wrist. Do this at work, at home, in the car and on the phone. I found some of my worst complaining was over the phone.
- I struggled at times whether to define my words as a complaint or not. I mean isn’t it a fact that the meeting I just went to was a waste of time? Consider it a complaint if you don’t qualify your negative words with some steps to fix or reframe the problem. Such as, “There were no outcomes from the meeting I just went to, so I volunteered to document in our next meeting the person responsible for each action item.”
I guarantee if you take on this challenge that the effects will be immediate and life-changing.
As you move along in the challenge you will find yourself choosing your words more carefully and looking for solutions rather than commiserating about what is wrong.
So go ahead…take on the challenge, clean out the mental garbage, and welcome spring with a more positive attitude!