Unless you are someone who is really introspective, most of us don’t pay attention to whether we are constantly complaining or expressing appreciation.
We don’t notice what we say and what we think about, because we’re used to the way we are and it seems normal.
We can focus on the negatives in life and not even realize that is what we are doing.
How we respond to situations around us is often automatic, and often learned at a very young age, which is why, if we are someone prone to complaining, it feels so normal.
How do we know if we complain a lot?
All change starts with paying attention.
Because our outlook on life has been this way for so long, it takes some effort to notice if we’re looking at it through a lens of negativity or positivity.
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
When you call your mom, sister, or friend, what types of things do you find yourself talking about? Do you jump right into telling them all the crappy things that have happened since you talked last? Or do you start talking about the funny/encouraging/positive things in your life?
I can remember the first time I ever thought about negativity:
I was sitting at my grandma’s table and she was chatting with my mom. My mom had asked how a certain relative was doing. My grandma replied that she didn’t know, she had stopped calling her because every conversation was negative. Whether it was the relative complaining about her husband, or how her kids were doing in school, or even about her neighborhood, the entire conversation was negative and my grandma would hang up the phone and feel weighed down.
It’s so much nicer to be in a place mentally where our thoughts are generally positive.
If you’re just at the beginning of noticing and desiring to embrace a positive/appreciative attitude, here are a few steps that can have a big impact:
Work on your outlook
Though we can get caught up in negative conversations from time to time, it’s important to make sure we aren’t the ones initiating those negative tones to the conversations.
And we don’t want to be the ones that entertain negative thoughts all the time.
Changing how we think takes time, but it can be done.
When you notice a negative or complaining thought, immediately stop and force yourself to say something positive about that situation.
“Ugh! My husband left his underwear on the floor again- so freaking annoying!”
STOP! And force yourself to say something positive about your husband:
“He did the dishes last night so I could relax after a long day, I appreciate that.”
Notice the attitudes of people you’re surrounded by
There are people in our lives that are negative.
If I’m around them, it’s easy for me to fall right into that and think of all the negative things going on in my life right now. If someone starts the conversation- it doesn’t take long before it seems like we are trying to one-up one another with all the difficult situations we happen to be witness to or be a part of.
Since I have started paying attention to this, I’ve learned to limit how much time I spend with people who are negative.
Just like my grandmother, who stopped calling her relative on a regular basis- sometimes we have to set boundaries for our mental well-being. It’s not that we have to cut those people completely out of our lives (though, in some cases, that might be needed), really, it’s knowing how much time you can spend with that person and learning to step away when you need to.
When we take time to journal, it’s allowing our minds to slow down and contemplate something. Most of our days are filled with busyness- we’re entertained with music, videos, or distracted with texts, social media, and news.
Giving your mind time to only sit and think, as well as having to articulate the thoughts into words, reveals things that we don’t normally pay attention to.
Here are a few questions to help you get started:
- Are my thoughts generally positive or negative?
- When I remark about things to people around me, are they generally positive or negative remarks?
- If they’re negative, what can I think about or focus on to shift it to a positive thought?
- How can I rephrase common thoughts so they are positive?
Journaling can make a huge impact on our thought-life, these questions are included in Day 15 of my journaling course: Minimalist Mindset. Click here for more info.
Don’t keep things bottled up
Just because we’re talking about positive thinking doesn’t mean it’s wrong to have negative thoughts or complain about things.
Life is hard – things happen that are uncomfortable, difficult, and frustrating. Relationships can drive us crazy and some people can be extremely annoying.
So let it out. Have a trusted person that can simply listen- preferably not someone who adds fuel to the fire, but someone you can be honest with.
Vent. It’s ok to feel those feelings.
We don’t want to complain all the time and dwell on the crap that happens- but it’s not healthy to pretend it doesn’t happen either.
Balance. Pretty much all of life comes down to balance.
No matter what is going on, nothing will change unless we accept the responsibility for the change.
This doesn’t mean that we look around at our cluttered home as a defeatist and say “it’s all my fault.” Instead, it means that if you want it to change, it’s your responsibility is to do something to change it.
Get rid of things, implement cleaning habits, change your shopping patterns.
If we want our home to be a place we enjoy living in, it’s up to us to make those changes.
We can’t expect the rest of the household to do it- it’s not important to them. If it’s important to you- then do it for yourself.
If you want to think more positively, you have to accept responsibility for changing the way you’re thinking.
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. But it definitely is worth it. 😉 It’s so much nicer to be in a positive mental space.