No Complaint Day

by Belinda Munoz on August 16, 2010

no complaints

A while ago, I wrote about five guiding principles that help me remember what a gift each day truly is.  At the end of each day, I reflect on kindness, gratitude, love, beauty and happiness and assess whether I’ve made room for each of these to breathe, to manifest within me, or have allowed myself to be a conduit to touch another person’s life.

This ritual works for me and is often a source of joy because, hey, I’m optimistic.  Sometimes, it serves as a reminder of something I said or did that I’m not proud of and that’s okay because I’d rather be in the know than be in denial.

But last night was a little different.  In my silent reflection, it occurred to me that the day was steeped in these good things.  By my standards, I was kind.  I was grateful.  I hid love less.  I noticed and appreciated beauty.  And, overall, I was happy.  Okay, there was an incident when my son accidentally kicked me in the head (toddler limbs are so flexible!) and I let out an instinctive shriek which then sent him into a crying fit.  But we regained our composure and both recovered from this mini-trauma beautifully.

Where am I going with this?  This day, seemingly perfect, made me wonder if I could take it a step further.  So, I turned to husband for reality check.  I asked if he thinks I could go an entire day without uttering a single complaint.  He, being a seasoned husband who has gotten in trouble for some admittedly head-scratching reasons, paused and thought carefully, knowing he couldn’t get out of this one.  He gave me a qualified yes.

This, of course, is not an original idea.  There are blogs, books, religions, schools, perhaps even legions of peaceniks whose philosophies and practices revolve around not thinking or speaking a single complaint.  I even stumbled on a blog about a year of no complaints, and my blog is on its blogroll!

Can I do it?  Can I last a day without uttering a complaint?  I wonder because I know myself and my environment.  Because I see problems even when I’m not looking.

Big Little Wolf at Daily Plate of Crazy has instituted an occasional therapeutic and humorous Complaint Department in which I’ve consistently participated.

As much as I prefer to choose positivity, my foundation is firmly planted in reality and I prefer not to indulge in wishful thinking.


It’s only one day and I’m in a good mood.  And though I have doubts, I want to do this.  I dare myself.  Tomorrow.  On a Tuesday.  Because I need a day to process this dare and Monday has always been the most difficult day of the week for me.  (Didn’t I say I’m a realist?)

So, I’m putting together a mini-guide to a no-complaints day:

  • Focus on the positives and the joys. Perspective has many sides.  While I am able to see the good, the bad and the in-between sides of a situation, I will consciously err on the happy side of things.  There, the climate is temperate.  Riptides are unheard of and there’s no shark in the warm water.  The light shines bright.  Happy hour is every hour.  The cabana walls are covered with smiling faces and abuzz with laughter and stories with a happy ending (or at least a valuable lesson).
  • Keep my five principles for adding meaning to an ordinary day front and center. Kindness.  Gratitude.  Love.  Beauty.  Happiness.  I will absorb and reflect these principles both in thought and in my interaction with others.
  • In the midst of negative talk by someone else, say nothing, plead innocence or validate then change the subject. Being responsive and open to a good discussion are good traits.  There is much wisdom gleaned from opposing perspectives.  But if we’re not paying attention to where a conversation leads, it could turn into a vent session which is no different from complaining.  While  there’s nothing wrong with venting, often it lingers on the negative too long.  Why not discuss something more fun instead?  Something that adds sparkle to our too few and too precious days?
  • Limit if not completely refrain from any type of confrontation. Confrontation is a chance to clarify any misunderstanding or purge negative energy.  It’s not an inherently bad thing and can be meaningful, productive and powerful, especially between friends.  But sometimes, a simple question could be seen as confrontational.  It could easily turn sour if emotions override rationality.  It’s just how people roll, no?

I happen to think complaining is normal and healthy.  It’s a defense mechanism that seeks to process the inequalities, affronts and offenses that our mortal minds encounter.  But I can’t deny that it has a way of fueling negative feelings that, at best, are enervating and challenging to sort through, which I don’t particularly like doing.  Me?  I prefer to feel good.  My hope with this experiment is to prove to myself that I can do without complaining.  That its absence will help me feel progressively better throughout the day.  There is a chance the opposite will happen.  Still, I believe the human will is a powerful thing.


  1. Do you think complaining helps or hurts us in the short run?  In the long run?
  2. Have you ever had a no-complaints day?  How did it go?
  3. Do you complain?  if not, what do you do instead?
  4. Will you join me in my experiment?
  5. Or at least cheer me on?


Image by kT LindSAy

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tony Single August 16, 2010 at 4:41 am

Belinda, I think the first no complaints day will only happen when I’m dead. I’m a realist too. 😛

I find it remarkably easy to complain, and I actually do try not to for some of the reasons you outlined. It’s a drain on me, and nothing gets resolved the longer I stay in that mode. Usually, if I want to complain, I turn it into something positive like a piece of art or writing. That’s about the most positive thing I know to do.

I applaud the fact that you want to go a whole day without complaining. I hope you can do it, Belinda. I’m barracking for you! 🙂


2 Wilma Ham August 16, 2010 at 7:50 pm

I like to return a love link to Tony on this post. I agree; it is remarkably easy to complain because . . . . we live in an environment that is NOT very people friendly, really.
So I have made this easier on myself, there are things I could complain about so I am NOT making myself wrong for complaining. Deny, ignore and I am bound to explode one day.
BUT I do not go on endlessly complaining, I seek to process it in any way I can like Tony said and I go about to create a more and more a people friendly environment for myself so I will have less and less to complain about. THAT is my way of productively deal with anything I complain about. Pay attention, process and ACT. I wish I could draw like Tony though, is that a complaint? xox Wilma


3 Kate August 16, 2010 at 4:50 am

Hi Belinda,

Generally I don’t like complaining, or people who do so. However, sometimes I think it is called for and forces changes. The thing which really irritates me is lots of complaints but doing nothing about them…..if I complain about something (which is more often than I would like!!) I always look at the situation to see how to resolve the complaint, not dwell on it – I rarely complain about the same thing twice.
So my only complaint at the moment is people who complain about the same thing for ages and do absolutely nothing to change the situation!


4 [email protected] from a Peaceful Divorce August 16, 2010 at 5:14 am

I think this is a great idea and something that I have tried before. I will join you!
I think that avoiding others in their complaining is a big one. Why not tell them of your objective for the day? I bet they would be supportive and maybe it would even have a good influence on them.

My current objective for the week is to object to nothing. Three friends and I set ourselves that intention and it certainly has had an impact on my parenting. I have to use the “redirect” much more.

Take care-Molly


5 TheKitchenWitch August 16, 2010 at 5:46 am

I love that Big Little Wolf. She’s a hoot, isn’t she? I admire you commitment to staying positive. You inspire me.


6 BigLittleWolf August 16, 2010 at 9:02 am

xoxo to you, too, Kitch! (Can I complain because you haven’t as yet teleported to my teeny tiny kitchen as my personal Chef???)



7 Jenny August 16, 2010 at 7:17 am

I have been working for sometime to give up complaining all together.
I’m not entirely successful, but it has been incredibly rewarding.
My rule is I have to DO SOMETHING about the things I complain about, which has me making changes to my own life.
For example, I lose sleep over climate change but I’m constantly reassessing my own way of living and always finding ways to be more green. I wish others would do the same but I can only change myself and it is empowering.
Way to go Belinda!
May I suggest the book A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. It’s a nice easy enjoyable read.


8 Davina August 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

I too become annoyed by folk who complain and seek no way to fix the situation. Some people seem to get a charge of out the act of complaining. I complain, probably more than I’m aware; it’s pretty automatic, but I don’t hang out there. It would be difficult to go a day without complaining. If I were to undertake this I think I’d choose a day where I would allow myself to complain and count how many times I noted it. Then I’d try another day where I just counted the times I complained. Would be interesting to notice if the number declined simply by making note of the numbers, rather than resisting. Gotta love psychology.

Good luck in the no complaints department, Belinda. 🙂


9 BigLittleWolf August 16, 2010 at 8:57 am

I love this idea, Belinda. (And thanks for the link love!) But I genuinely do think it’s helpful to complain – in context – and in a “safe” way. Thus, my free zone for complaints every so often.

We live in a culture that increasingly expects us to put on a perky public face. That stress – and it is stress – can put an already complicated balancing act on overload, and topple some of us over the edge. Me, anyway. And up against some mighty burdens and making no headway, faking positivity isn’t the answer.

At the same time, I hope – I believe – I actually go many days in a row without so much as a complaint, either on my blog or in my real life. Perhaps that’s because I’m dealing with a tiny universe. Perhaps because for each complaint I may make in my head, to myself, I tend to offset it with full awareness that things could be worse, and appreciation for what is working on a given day.

I might also mention that acknowledging what hurts or what is rugged reality is not the same as complaining, or negativity. It is confronting truths that require confronting, and hopefully, from that, action toward improving a situation may be taken.

As for your desire to go for an entire day without a complaint – go for it! (I love a good challenge set for myself.) We’ll be curious to hear how you do. And meanwhile, I sense that the Complaint Department may be open for business again soon. But not today. All is calm, my boys are fine, and the coffee is fresh.


10 PC Muñoz - Belinda's husband August 16, 2010 at 9:08 am

I’ve got no complaints about this post.


11 Eva @ EvaEvolving August 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

Ha! Wise man!


12 Corinne August 16, 2010 at 9:50 am

I think complaining can be a good thing, but it can also be such a trap. Once we start, it’s really hard to stop. Reflecting on things that bother us, or hinder us, might be more positive than complaining, or at least it sounds better to me 😉
You can do it!!


13 Eva @ EvaEvolving August 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

I think this exercise – a day of no complaints – could be valuable simply as a means of making us conscious of our thinking and perhaps of how often we do complain. I definitely agree that complaining – venting – can be very cathartic. But I also agree with Corinne, that once you get started it’s hard to stop. Husband and I can feed off of one another sometimes, just trading complaints and going into this downward spiral. Why even go there? Better to focus on the good things in a day – or on figuring out how to fix what’s bothering you.


14 rob white August 16, 2010 at 11:31 am

Hi Belinda,
This is interesting. Personally, I do not see the benefit in not complaining. In fact, I find it essential to business dealings in holding others accountable for their commitments (this may be a different conversation.) However; I indulge in complaining from the “let it flow, and let it go” attitude. I find it helpful to air it out and then come back around. Sometimes the complaint is valid, and sometimes I reach a totally new perspective.


15 Justine August 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

This is a good one Belinda, and for me, a really tough one too. I realized the other day that I do more than my fair share of complaining when My Guy pointed it out to me with an offhanded remark. Except it hit me pretty hard. I WAS complaining quite a bit and it made me wonder about myself.

Things are going pretty well, I enjoy my life, I love my family, so why the complaints? And you’re right, the complaints just spiral downward into complete negativism and I really don’t want to end up as the Debbie Downer of the group. I often am annoyed by my mom’s uncanny ability to always point out the negative in any situation and I’m not trying to blame her for my own inability to check myself, but the tendency is there for me to focus on the imperfections too.

I want to join you tomorrow. I’d like to see if it is indeed possible for me to do this. To consciously choose positivity. Wish us both luck? 🙂


16 Jarrod - Cultivating Heroes August 16, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Complaining is a sympton of not accepting reality as it is.

We do not complain that a cat is not a wallet yet we complain about the weather or peoples actions/words.

Accept it all.


17 Christine LaRocque August 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I admire your commitment to positivity. As you know I’m on my own personal quest, and this is one avenue I have purposely avoided. Mostly because I’m tired all the time, and when we are tired it’s just so much easier to complain. But I like the sentiment here, and I think I could learn lessons from what you have to say. If we all complained a little less, I think the world would be a happier place. We all need a dose of perspective I think. Sometimes, when things are really overwhelming me, or I feel particularly rife with complaint, I’ll calmly remind myself that there are starving babies in the world. It always sets me straight!


18 Rudri August 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm


I really like this post. Complaining is easy and I’ve found that we can always focus on a negative. Your focus on staying positive is important. We have to consciously remind ourselves that we all have good things in our life. It is a matter of perspective. Thanks so much for this important reminder.


19 Katie August 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I think complaining is just negativity, pure and simple. Active discussion about differing opinions, or observations on an incident that didn’t go how you thought it might are different. They are detached forms of analysis. Complaining is often emotionally investing in something that is over or out of your control. I like the idea of a no complaints day. No judgments, no butting in, none of it. Great idea. I’m in.


20 Patty - Why Not Start Now? August 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Hi Belinda – I think it’s lovely you’re trying it. It’s clear from your writing that you’re putting your own sweet spin on it, so I’m absolutely cheering you on. For me, though, the idea of no complaints is alternately compelling and confusing. According to the dictionary, to complain is to “express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness…” That’s what clients bring into my office every day, and I welcome it, because in the process of letting out the complaints they move through them to the other side. I think I do that too, in my own life. I guess I see complaints as being different from negativity. Part of our inner balancing act as human beings, our movement towards wholeness: sad/happy, afraid/courageous, complaint/rejoice. The key, I suppose, is where we settle on the continuum.


21 Kate August 17, 2010 at 8:37 am

I guess it all depends on what you consider complaining. I try not to complain, but I have my days. If I am in line at the DMV, saying the line is long may be just pointing out a fact. Going on and on about it is unhelpful negativity. I talk to my five year old about how whining doesn’t get you anywhere, how throwing a fit doesn’t solve the problem. Accepting life or swinging into action to change it. And often, that change starts with talking about the problem. Is that complaining?


22 Mel Gallant August 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Belinda – 100% cheering you on! Can’t wait for your follow up post to read how today went. I find that I complain the most about being tired but I think that comes with the territory of being a mom. 😉

in general, I try not to complain. I think…I may have to double-check with my husband before committing whole-heartedly to that statement. 🙂

Some complaining is good – get that beef off your chest! – but when it’s recurrent and pointless it gets annoying, so I try not to participate in negative discussions that aren’t going anywhere…that don’t have a purpose other than to feed negativity. Not always easy but your advice to remain silent, validate and/or change the subject is a great one.

Thanks for starting a great discussion here!


23 Meg August 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Complaining is generally pointless, whining is horrible, and it is my policy to avoid both–unless I reach the point of no return and then I let roll with a rant. Rants are generally reserved for issues of injustice. For everyday life, one should just suck it up, get a thicker skin, or just deal with it. It is possible to deal with the minor dissatisfactions of “reality” by firmly and uncomplainingly doing what you want to do anyway. Complaining means you’ve been taking other people’s crap. Wouldn’t it be ‘way cooler to not give them the satisfaction?

So I would say I am supportive of your efforts!


24 Steve August 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I try not to complain too much. Negativity is a drain after all. Going without it completely can be hard. I can go a day without talking, but if you include THINKING negative thoughts it becomes a harder prospect than a full day without talking.

For me much harder actually.


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