‘NO COMPLAINT DAY’ a practice I got introduced to during the personal development coaching was an experience worth reckoning. ‘ No complaint’ meant REFRAINING from making a statement that something was not satisfactory or could not be accepted. The challenge was to earmark a day when we would NOT pick on or voice out the negative side of things. And the challenge was to be practiced for just one day. ‘Big deal !’, I thought. I expected to learn unheard of, sophisticated, mind-blowing, transformative concepts from the coaching, not a simplistic one as this. Nevertheless, I took it up in the spirit of the challenge.
Operation ‘No complaint’ thus began. The day was windy, cold and it was drizzling. I woke up but wanted to be wrapped in the warmth of the blanket and stay for a longer time in bed. But the activities of the weekday demanded I get ready. ‘It is so cold! How can one want to go out in this weather? How I wish it was sunny. I don’t want to go today! But I have to.’ The thoughts ran into my mind. I uttered half of it and recalled the promise we made for the day. I stopped midway and swallowed the rest of the words.
Minutes passed and it was time for coffee. The moments when I immerse myself with the heavenly experience of savoring ‘Kapee’! I looked forward to relishing its bitterness and be tantalized by its aroma. But in the first sip, I found Coffee was lighter than usual. The decoction of filter coffee was not perfected that day. "Why is the coffee so light? Did not get the satisfaction at all. It is like water. Which coffee powder is this? Why do we keep changing it!" - I said spontaneously and let out my disappointment as I looked at my mother. The pitch of my voice indicated I was complaining. The expression on her face changed that moment. She felt bad, unacknowledged for the efforts she put in preparing and serving it on time, dutifully, and with love. Uttering as such gave me an outlet but left her in low spirits for a long time. Not a worthy trade-off! Holding back my words or conveying them with thoughtfulness would have kept her in good stead- I thought as I reflected on it. I observed I did not stick to the challenge.
The day continued. I completed an Income Tax Statement prepared for our client and submitted it to my Principal. He reviewed it and noticed an error I had committed. He let my overlooking of that mistake pass, pointed to the part where I made it, and asked me to make the corrections. But I fretted at wasting the time and having to start the task all over again. ‘’ This was so obvious. I have done these returns many times. How could I do this mistake and embarrass myself!’’ I thought right after the review. It was an involuntary thought though. But as the challenge was on, I recognized it after it showed up.
The day of the challenge thus continued with some misses and hits. This activity revealed how frequently I complained and better still, to recognize that I did it inadvertently. I practiced the challenge on purpose and for a longer period, even after the coaching ended. I could see a significant difference in the experience on the days I did not complain and on the days I did. The change was within and noticeable in people around me. The practice made me more sensitive to myself and others. It helped me empathize with others who complained and did not know they were doing it. It brought at least a few ounces of change in my behavior. The focus shifted to looking for better aspects and ignoring the not-so-nice ones of others. Not expressing displeasure wherever I could afford it, made me more receptive and friendly to people. They appreciated the tiny changes in my behavior. Becoming observant of and lessening negative self-talk, higher acceptance of human experiences of self and others developed more sensitivity, made me more humane.
So much for a ’no big deal’ activity! Is it worth your try?