I was driving my mom home from a long doctor’s appointment last week and I felt like everyone on the road thought they were characters in the next Fast and the Furious movie. There were so many cops out on the road. It was the end of the month so I guess that solves that mystery. I looked down and saw I was almost out of gas. Great, that’s another stop I had to make. It was 11 AM on a Monday and there was so much traffic. I just wanted to get home and eat something. My belly was aching. I hadn’t had anything except for a cup of coffee and boy am I glad I had that because I don’t think I could have handled the chaotic morning otherwise. On top of all of that I had to pee so badly! From the looks of it, it was going to be a long and stressful day; probably week.
After what felt like an eternity, I was finally home. As I sat down to have my bagel and cream cheese, I saw I got a Snapchat from Ashley. This is what it was:
I took a screenshot of it immediately. Something about this really struck a chord. I started thinking about my day. Everything from the moment I woke up. I had been complaining ALL DAY! I was so negative. I even assumed the rest of the day and week would be bad. I didn’t realize how much complaining I did. I ruminated these thoughts for a few hours and finally decided I should do something about it. I was going to take up the challenge. I took it a step further and set it for a week. That’s right. I was going to go one entire week without complaining. At first it was easy: as soon as I felt a negative thought come my way I would just change the topic or squash it right away. That lasted about 30 minutes.
This was going to be harder than I thought. I needed a new plan. A few minutes later, I completely forgot about the challenge and complained about the WIFI not working properly. But I didn’t want to give up on the challenge so easily. And if I restart the challenge, it won’t prevent me from making the same mistake again. So for each time I complain I would add one hour that I need to go to the gym and workout. And if you know me, I hate going to the gym. I’m a broke college student so putting a dollar in a jar isn’t feasible. Instead I got an empty jar and put in a clothespin.
Here are some of my thoughts on the challenge from throughout the week:
Monday: “Two hours in, I complained. Maybe I should have started off smaller…”
Tuesday: So far so good. I think I’m starting to get a cold though. I could go for a doughnut right about now.
Wednesday: Definitely have a cold. But that’s okay! I have an immune system that will help me fight it.
Thursday: My immune system is useless. Still haven’t gotten that doughnut. And I think I just complained…
Friday: I think I got both of my parents sick too. But they take care of me with no second thoughts. I’m so lucky.
Saturday & Sunday: I can feel my thoughts and way of thinking changing with each passing day.
Monday: I have some working out to do this week…”
As of yesterday 3 PM, I have officially finished my week long challenge. There were 9 clothespins in the jar, which means I owe 9 hours at the gym, out of which I have done 4.
So at the end of the week did my life really change like it said it would in the picture? Did all the stars align in my life? No. Did all of my problems magically disappear? No. Did I win the lottery and buy myself a Chipotle restaurant so I can eat burrito bowls every day? Definitely Not. None of that happened. And I didn’t expect it to either. But, was there a change in my life? Absolutely. Did I stop, and think before I spoke? Yes! Did I try to better understand each situation? Yes! Did I occasionally fail? Yes! Did it get easier as the days went by? Yes! Was I happier? Yes! Noticeably!
This was the goal I had set for myself. And although I did fail a few times, I feel I have succeeded at my challenge. It’s easy to complain the minute something goes awry. It took conscious effort on my part to not complain. When someone was driving 30 mph on a road that is 50, I had to stop myself from yelling “GO!!” Maybe they had a stressful day and had a lot on their mind. Maybe they were driving a cake for their friend’s birthday that they didn’t want to ruin. Or maybe they were just on their phones not paying attention. Whatever the reason may be, I cannot change their actions. I can however change mine. And that’s something I needed to learn.
This week I read about so many tragedies in the world around me. I thought about how fortunate I was that none of those things happened to me. I wasn’t the victim of a violent attack. My home wasn’t destroyed by massive floods. My family and I were safe and we had a warm place to call home.
What was the most important thing I took away from this week? Gratitude. For who I am, where I live, what I have, and for the opportunity I have to share that with all of you.
I always think its nice to start new year’s resolutions a little earlier than January 1st. Use this last month as a training period for your goals for the next year. Set those habits and routines in motion now so you don’t feel so much pressure come New Years. This coming year will be all about moving towards living a life of gratitude. Each day I want to be able to think of something I am thankful for. You will never run out of things to put on that list.
So we challenge each of you to a Complaint Free Week. I guarantee if you keep up with it, you WILL feel a difference in your life. If you do decide to take us up on the offer, we would love to hear from you in the comments!