I've been reading through Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. I had read it before in college, and while I thought it was really good then, I never made it my own and applied the principle's.
Man, what a mistake!
I recently resolved to follow his first principle in the book: Never Criticize, Condemn or Complain.
Let me back up a second and tell you about myself. I'm considered a driven, intelligent and kind person (these statements are taken from family and friends) . I make lots of mistakes (and freely admit that) which helps me to be understanding about other people. So, it's not like I was doing a major overhaul on my life, right?
While I strive to never condemn other people, apparently the complaining aspect of my life was out of control. I had no idea I whined so much; in fact, I considered myself a tough cookie who kept her mouth shut!
Once you make the resolution to not complain, the first few days you find yourself repeatedly opening and then closing your mouth when you realize you can't jump on your pity bandwagon. The added benefit of looking like a suffocating fish eventually gets you to the place where you're disciplined enough to not open your mouth in the first place!
Then, about the 3rd day or so for me, I noticed 2 things.
#1: I became happier, because I couldn't complain--meaning I had no choice but to focus on the blessings in my life.
#2: Since I couldn't complain, I got to listen a lot more to people--not only did I learn more about them, but I was able to fill some needs AND give them a piece of my positive outlook!
And while I wasn't terrible about criticizing or condemning others, I'm sure my report card had a big, fat (NI) for Needs Improvement on it, because I did find myself wanting to make my friends feel better by being harsh of a third person's actions. But that's not really fair, is it? I'm not in any way involved in that situation, so that's exactly what I told my friends. They were surprisingly okay with that, and went on to talk about other things without missing a beat.
It just goes to show, you should always strive to grow.