Guest Post by Kaia Roman of The Joy Plan
We’re doing a 5-day #JoyChallenge this week at Annmarie Skin Care. Each day, you’ll find a new challenge up on the blog. These practices are described in more detail in my new book The Joy Plan (coming July 11, pre-order here).
In my passionate quest for joy, which started as a 30 days experiment but quickly became a way of life, I needed to take a long, hard look at my negative habits. You see, I used to complain. A lot. Not necessarily because I was dissatisfied with my life. It was more like a nervous habit. I especially complained when I was speaking with someone I didn’t know well.
But then a friend told me, “Your experience of life is shaped by what you say about it.” And I could see that he was right. By complaining all the time, I was missing out on a different story I could be telling, and a different experience of life I could be living. I challenged myself to stop complaining for a week, and the challenge is still going more than two years later.
Day 4: No Complaining
Focus on solutions instead of problems and notice what a difference this subtle shift makes in your life.
Instead of bumming out about not having everything I want yet, I try to focus on how excited I am about it all being on its way. The feeling of wanting something can be harnessed like an internal engine, strongly propelling us in the direction of our desire. Likewise, instead of focusing on what I don’t like (traffic, high prices, etc.) I do my best to shift my focus to what I do like. I transfer my attention from problems to solutions.
Today, challenge yourself to look for ways to say “YES” instead of “NO. Catch yourself when you feel the urge to complain and ask yourself how you can focus your attention on what you want instead of complaining about what you don’t want.
Complaining doesn’t solve problems, it blocks solutions. Every time you have the urge to complain today, do your best to remind yourself that a complaint is just one viewpoint.
Challenge yourself to take responsibility for the things you can change: your attitude and your perspective.
Focus on solutions instead of problems. Trust that everything is working out, even when you don’t understand it or see the whole picture. Practice looking for the silver lining in every situation like your life depends on it. Because ultimately, your experience of life does depend on it. While there are many things that are beyond your control, your attitude is always up to you.
When we complain, we train our brains to focus on the negative, which then predisposes us to see more negative showing up in our lives. Complaining also releases the stress hormone cortisol, which has a whole cascade of harmful effects on our health.
Whatever we do repetitively, whether it’s biting our nails or making time to exercise, becomes a habit. Thoughts and words are the same. In fact, 90% of our thoughts are repetitive, so they really become a strong habit.
Not long ago, the thoughts on a feedback loop in my mind focused on all the ways I was falling short and failing in life, and I frequently spoke those thoughts out loud as complaints. Until I switched the theme. I practiced thinking joyful thoughts long enough that those thoughts became my new habit. Although this is simple, it’s not necessarily easy. But with practice and perseverance, it does work.
Joy is a habit that can be cultivated with practice and repetition. And it’s more fun to do it with friends! Check back tomorrow for Day 5 of the #JoyChallenge: Laughter.