"What would it be like if for one day you just didn't complain? If complaining wasn't an option? What would you do?" -- Joe Kirin, founder of No Complaints Day Challenge
I met with Joe Kirin in Naperville, Illinois. He showed up wearing a nice suit jacket and a fresh blue and white checkered shirt that set off the blueness of his eyes. Right away I noticed a beautiful bird pin on his lapel that reminded me of my grandmother Nana. Every time she went back to the village where she was born, just outside of Trieste, Italy, she would come back with pins like Joe's. "Povero mio!" I remember Nana repeating to herself on days when things were not going her way. "Was that complaining?" I thought to myself.
I asked him to tell me about the little bird pin.
"It was my mother's," he said. "I always wear it when I dress up."
Joe founded the No Complaints Day Challenge in memory of his mother. When she became very ill, Joe noticed how little she complained about the health challenges that she faced.
Joe's parents were both from Croatia. I asked him if, prior to his mother's illness, his family complained a lot. Not quite intentionally, I found myself complaining about how Croatians always find something to complain about.
"I think we had the same amount of complaining as any family has anywhere else," Joe said kindly.
They lived in Chicago and his parents made sure that Joe, like the other immigrants' children, learned the Croatian language, music, and dances. He fell in love with playing the tamburica -- a Croatian instrument that resembles the mandolin -- and kept up on all the popular music from the "old country." We both agreed that music is a great way to stop all sorts of complaining.
Joe smiled at me, guarding his excitement and a little bit of nervousness, and told me that he really enjoyed playing my Croatian hit song at his gigs and events. He asked me about my current work.
"Can't complain," I thought, but instead said "Great!"
I paused and wondered: What kind of response is that? "Can't complain." It almost sounds like "I wish I found something to complain about, but right now, sorry, I'm just not coming up with anything." Ah! The mysteries of human expression...
The cameras started rolling, and Joe began to speak passionately about his desire to help people.
"I started to notice the amount of complaining people do on Facebook. They complain about something and then it's there and then it's gone. It doesn't really do anything... it doesn't really change anything. It just, you might say, begets more complaining," Joe said.
We talked about instances in which complaining is useful and constructive, and those when it's not.
There are several no-complaining challenges out there: Will Bowen's 21 days without complaining, Angie Flynn's 30 day challenge... Many people will vouch how these days spent without complaining have had a positive impact on their lives. Joe's challenge is simple -- just one day.
And his four rules are very simple as well:
1. 24 hours straight with no complaints at all.
2. If you complain, get back up, dust yourself off and continue.
3. If you feel a situation really necessitates a complaint then you can make the call to do so -- it's your choice. You can then continue on from there.
4. Have FUN because you can't get disqualified.
I thought a lot on the subject of complaining and decided that I'm going to need a whole lot more than one day to become good at giving it up. But even the process of raising my awareness about how much of my thoughts qualify as complaints will be beneficial to both myself and those around me.
So here are my three areas of complaining I'm going to pay special attention to in the future:
Complaining about myself. This has absolutely no use and it's simply a way to get attention. And experts say that we are more prone to complain about everyone else and about the world around us if we get into a habit of complaining about ourselves.
Complaining about a service. Unless I get a chance to calmly submit my complaint to a qualified person who can fix the source of my frustration, I'm giving this one up too. Complaining to someone who can't do anything about it just creates more hurt.
Complaining about my body aches. Sitting at the computer and working for long hours without a break is a choice I make. Why on earth would then I complain when I become stiff and sore? I should expect it, understand it, and either ignore it and keep my mouth shut, or get up once in a while and give my body a break.
Are you up for the challenge?
Joe Kirin is the creator of the No Complaints Day Challenge, a life coach, and an accomplished singer and musician. Joe is currently working on the 2nd No Complaints Day Challenge 2015. You can join his Facebook page
"Waking Up In America" is a weekly multi-platform show with guests and music in which we explore the 'waking up moments' that shift us from discontent to purpose and uncover the essence of who we are meant to be.