No Complaints Today

We know people in the North are strange at times.

Here is another poignant example: yesterday the Netherlands celebrated, for the 4th time, the so-called: Klaagvrije Maandag. Translated as: complaint-less Monday.

Yes, you read correctly: a full day without bitching and complaining. Both out loud and in your head. And it’s big business for life coaches who offer dedicated support groups, inspirational messages via e-mail, private Facebook Groups and similar initiatives to help people go through this challengingly optimism-filled day.

The mastermind behind the initiative is Business Coach Sandra Brandt. In an interview she confesses she actually came up with the Complaint-less Monday for herself: 

“I tought I was complaint-free, but then I started noticing I actually spent all day complaining about other people complaining.”

Last year, this awareness was enough reason for Sandra to create a Facebook event: Complaint-less Monday was born. For the first edition, 200 people participated. In the meantime, it has become hugely successful with over 38,000 people committing through the Facebook page to avoid complaining for one, entire Monday.

But what is the importance of less complaining?

Is it just a matter of not annoying the people around you?

“Complaining can be extremely cathartic when it is constructive,” tells Jan-Willem van Prooijen, social psychologist at the Vrije University of Amsterdam. “However, to complaining just for the sake of complaining has a negative effect. People take you less seriously and find you less attractive, while you feel worse. If you complain a lot, you see everything negatively and your world view becomes negative.”

Positive Attitude

Being outgoing, optimistic, and laughter-filled can keep you healthier.

“We don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh.” William James said this over a century ago, acknowledging the feedback loop between laughter and well-being.

A study from Washington University in St. Louis found for the first time that laughing gas (nitrous oxide) shows promise for helping symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, further underscoring the importance of laughter.

By now, the studies linking a positive outlook with health benefits are uncountable. Another paper published in 2013 in the journal of the American Heart Association shows that people dealing with heart disease who have a positive outlook live longer and stronger.

What to do now?

What if we don’t have any nitrous oxide at hand? It’s not like you can go to your doctor and get a prescription for positivity(“Tell two jokes every 4 to 6 hours”?). You have to take the initiative to inject humor into your life. There are some obvious ways and some less obvious ways. 

The obvious ones: read a blog that makes you laugh, hang out with friends who never fail to boost your mood, go to the park with your dog; anything that’s going to bring a smile to your face.

What about the less obvious choices?

Now comes the interesting part. Here is a list:

  • Studies have shown that helping others helps you, too. Volunteering is a great way to give as much as you get and get as much as you give
  • Practice gratitude, which means thinking of, or writing down the things that you are grateful for in your life. Positive affirmations remind you of the wonderful things in your life and make you feel happier and more satisfied.
  • There is a new Complaint-less Monday coming up beginning of 2016