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The Minimalists The Minimalists
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

Habitual Complaining

Overheard on a flight yesterday:

“This plane is taking too long.”
“This bag is so freaking heavy.”
“This drink would be better over ice.”

These aren’t benign observations; they’re sneaky complaints.

We all do it: we badmouth life’s banalities. The weather. The long lines. The technologies that work imperfectly. We feel compelled to announce our dissatisfaction with every blemish, dragging others into our vortex of vexation.

Even when we don’t fret aloud, we murmur or let the pessimistic thoughts stew until they become a stifling atmosphere of toxicity. Over time, these noxious judgments poison our days, our lives.

With each complaint, it’s as if we’re Yelp-rating our experience of life—one star, one star, one star! Imagine a restaurant barraged by dozens of negative reviews every day. How would that affect them? How does the juggernaut of negativity affect us?

The person who’s regularly disgruntled by their circumstances—rather than grateful for what they have—has found the perfect recipe for discontent. Most complaining, however, is habitual, and that’s good news because it’s entirely possible to break bad habits.

First, we must accept the unchangeables. The plane will get there when it gets there; bellyaching won’t alter its arrival. Instead, smile, breathe, and bask in acceptance.

Then, we must change the changeables. If that bag is too heavy, consider asking for help or packing lightly. (A lighter load is sure to make us smile.)

Finally, we must appreciate what we have. True, that drink may not be perfect, but we can smile and be grateful we’re not thirsty.

In virtually every scenario, a smile is more useful than a snivel.