I hate complaining. This advice is for the complainers. I’m not upset with you if you play video games all day or watch Netflix all night. I’m mad at you if you’re doing that and you’re baffled by why you’re not making more money and living your dream. If you’re happy and content, you’ve won. But if you’re complaining, it means you haven’t won yet and you should stop complaining and do something about it.
Someone I look up to most in the world (tied with you, Dad) is my mother. Hands down, one of the most intriguing things about my mother is her inability to complain. It’s probably one of my favorite traits that she’s passed down to me. I find it incredibly attractive and it’s a quality I adore in my wife as well. It’s even something I try to instill in my children because I think complaining is ugly.
Personally, I don’t complain. (Except about the New York Jets—I complain about them a lot.) If you look at my tweets historically, maybe there are two or three complaints. You’ll never catch me complaining about not seeing my kids enough or about not having enough leisure time because if I had an issue with those things, I would either do something about it or at least recognize that I have the ability to do something about it.
There’s no shifting into the complain zone when I encounter an issue I’m not happy with. I’m very “put your head down” when it comes to problem-solving. It’s about assessing the problem, figuring it out, and then going directly back on the offense. Complaining is defense.
To me, the only thing you that is acceptable to complain about are the things that you can’t control like the unfortunate health of yourself or your loved ones or some other unforeseen tragedies.
I want to clarify, just to set the record straight: If you’re complaining, about anything, then you need to audit yourself. You can’t just go watch House of Cards. You can’t play ball all day. You can’t go to ballet shows. You can’t sit there and ponder the what-ifs like: “What if I had rich parents” or “what if I grew up in a better neighborhood” or “what if I made that investment” or “what if I want to that school.” You gotta work to fix it.
There are so many people reading this right now who are complaining. People love to complain because it’s easy. Executing to fix those problems, on the other hand, is hard.
Look, I understand that many of you have student loans and mortgages and a rough time working two jobs while trying to spend time with your family. But, are you happy? If you are, then you’ve won because you don’t actually have anything to complain about. The real problem is that there are so many millions of people who are unhappy and are just sitting around complaining and then just playing Madden for hours or having their 18th dinner with their other “complaining friend” and just complaining back and forth together. They’re not actually trying to solve the very things they’re complaining about.
In today’s world, we’re so ingrained to expect instant gratification and that our problems can be solved with minimal effort. Patience is real and so is hard work. Sometimes, that hard work might not even be as terrible as you think. Need more money? We live in a 24/7 world where you can make money in your underwear. Think about it.
If there’s one thing I want you to learn from reading this, it’s that complaining has zero value. Looking at the negative, seeing the glass as half empty, and complaining are some of the biggest wastes of time a human being can engage in. Instead, tackle the problem head on. Assess it, see what you can do about it, and then do just that. “Woe is me” is truly one of the biggest things that can stand in the way of success both professionally and personally.
Image credit: CC by Alan Turkus