British people love to have a bit of a moan, don’t we? The weather is always too hot or too cold. The traffic is horrendous. The trains are a nightmare. Scratch that; this whole week has been a nightmare. Plus Brexit. Plus Trump. Wherever you look, it seems there’s always something to have a good moan about. And yet, weirdly enough, all that complaining never seems to change anything.
There’s the stuff we moan about inwardly (Why am I the ONLY one who ever changes the toilet roll?), there are the complaints we make about other people (She’s doing my head in!), and then there’s the gentle, general grumbling that makes its way around the office (Mondays, am I right?) So why do we do it? Do we think we’re going to change the world, one grumble at a time? Is it just a habit? Are we venting our frustrations in an attempt to feel better? But then why doesn’t anything change? How did we get into that habit? Why don’t we feel better?
Because moaning gives us an excuse; it makes us feel like we’re acknowledging the problem, that we’re taking action, when really we’re doing nothing at all. We’re whining into the void. We’re muttering under our breath and getting more and more bitter. We’re just another car horn beeping amongst hundreds, and yet the traffic jam doesn’t budge. All we’re doing is adding to the noise. We’re casting a raincloud over our day instead of bringing the sunshine. We’re dragging people down with us instead of being salt and light to build them up.
Surely there’s a better way to live than this. So how do we fix it?
1. Let it go: A happiness expert recently told me that 95% of the stuff we moan about doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t. The next time you catch yourself getting annoyed and about to vent, ask yourself: do I really care about this? Does this really matter? Curbing those moments when we want to complain about the trivial things means that when the other 5% comes along – the big, life-altering, world-changing stuff like poverty or illness or a family crisis – people will sit up and pay attention. Because if you’re complaining about it then it must be big.
2. Communicating over complaining: More often than not, when we find ourselves complaining, it’s often to the wrong person. We moan about work at home and home life at work, it’s no surprise that neither one of them changes. If something is bothering you, speak to the person responsible in a constructive way. And then, if it can’t be fixed, I direct you to my former point: does it really matter?
3. Appreciation over annoyance: Sometimes the only thing you can change about a situation is your attitude. When you find yourself in the midst of an irritating situation, try to find the things for which you can be grateful. Stuck in traffic? That means you have a car and music on the radio and somewhere important to be – get you! Long queue in the supermarket? That means you’ve got a trolley full of food that you didn’t have to grow yourself or walk miles to get. Sick of the snow in spring? We’ve got SNOW in SPRING. How rare and magical and wonderful is that?
4. Minimise the madness: As important as it is to keep informed about what’s going on in the world, no one needs to follow Donald Trump on Twitter. Let me save you some choice moaning time right now: today, Donald Trump will do something stupid and damaging and ridiculous – and then tweet about it. He will do the same tomorrow, and the day after that and you can’t stop him, so why waste valuable time and brain space reading and then ranting about it? Let’s collectively do one final, “Urgh, Trump” and then move on with our lives. Bring on 2020.
As much as I love being British, as much as I enjoy a good moan, I really don’t think it’s helping anyone. So let’s just quit complaining. That doesn’t mean burying the bad feelings and letting them fester, but adapting the way we see the situation and the way we go about tackling it. Let’s try and change our attitude and see the good rather than the bad. Let’s appreciate what we have, because in this country we’re privileged to have a lot more than other people. Let’s fill this world with positivity so that we pass it on to other people. I don’t want to be a nation of grumps, I want to be a nation of joy. Because we all have the same stuff to deal with – good and bad – and being happy doesn’t mean waiting for the dark clouds to pass or denying they exist; it means spotting those sweet silver linings and choosing to focus on the sunshine behind them.
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti