Soul Food

What if Each Complaint Cost You a Dollar?

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I don’t know her favorite foods and I make her eat carrots before she gets dessert, yet she doesn’t complain.  I probably don’t cut her sandwich the way she likes it and I bet I don’t play with her as often as she would like, but you’ll never hear her complain.  I lay her down at night and wonder if she thinks the mattress is too soft or too hard.  Is the pillow she lays her pretty blonde curls on as comfy as the pillow she was using at home?  I wouldn’t know because I never hear her complain.  I know my hugs aren’t the same as her mommy’s and her brother and sister can’t kiss her good night, but you will not hear her complain.  Her whole world has been flipped upside down in a matter of seconds when she was placed to live with us, total strangers, yet she never complains. I know she misses her Mommy, bubby and sissy because I can hear her talking to them on the play phone when she is alone.  She just turned three and I know she has to be confused, hurting, angry, bitter, upset, and sad, but you would never know because she doesn’t complain.  She has every right to scream, “THIS ISN’T FAIR!” but she doesn’t–she doesn’t complain.

There is so much I can learn from a tiny three-year old.  What if I was told that every time I complained, I had to write it on a one dollar bill and throw it in a jar for someone else to spend?  Oh how my complaining would decrease!  After thinking about this for several days, I decided to do an experiment and live in this hypothetical world in which each complaint would cost me one dollar.  I wanted to see if I could go 24 hours without complaining, or at least be more mindful and try to complain less.

So I picked Sunday.  Why Sunday?  Monday’s are never good days to decide to quit complaining; Tuesday’s sometimes feel like Monday’s; Wednesday’s are just ‘ehh’ and there is usually a lot of house cleaning to tackle; Thursday’s are busy with grocery shopping and I would be setting myself up for failure to not complain on that day; Friday’s are hectic because laundry is usually piled up again and I watch several kiddos throughout the day; Saturday’s the hubs is home which means cups are left out, pillows are off the couch, jackets are not hung up, dirt is tracked in from outside, crumbs are on the counter from lunch (you get my drift), therefore this leaves me with Sunday.  Also, since I attend church on Sunday’s, I thought I might be more holier-than-thou…? But it was a mega fail!  By noon, I had well over 46, okay 8…9ish complaints.  Some I had spoken out loud, others I had said in my head.  Regardless, I discovered if it were true and I owed a dollar for each complaint, I would be broke within 24 hours.  As it turns out, I’m quite the complainer (not easy to type).

From 8am until 2pm, I complained about everything from the clothes that no longer fit due insulin resistance caused by PCOS, to the hair I find annoying on my chin (once again, thank you PCOS), to the Hubs leaving early for church, to the placement of where Wal-Mart keeps their milk (why in the very back?  seriously?), to how they were also out of the Frito Scoops (again).  I didn’t stop there with my pettiness because once I got home, I complained about where our dishwasher is located in the kitchen (I was going to elaborate on this one but then realized I would still be complaining) and how Goldilocks (our foster child) asks 90 questions in a 30 minute time frame.  I even got on the phone with my Mommers and started grumbling, murmuring, fault-finding, and complaining for over ten minutes about other randomness.

I believe going through a day without complaining about anything would qualify as a miraculous occurrence. But it is something we should always strive to do.

When I allow myself to fall prey to this kind of bad attitude, it keeps me in the circumstance that I want to get out.  I once looked up the definition for complaining and one of the words used to describe “complain” was “remain”.  Each time we complain about what we don’t have or what others have that we don’t, we are choosing to remain in our negative circumstances by staying in a negative frame of mind.

Why can’t I be more like the three-year old who somehow understands the concept that complaining about a situation will only cause her to live in the negative aspects of it?  Why can’t I see that murmuring only prevents me from seeing all the blessings I do have in life?  Why is it so natural and easy for complaints to fly out of my mouth but thankfulness and thoughts of contentment take work and effort?

Since I failed my experiment and I am a perfectionist, I’m going to try again tomorrow and on a Monday and I might even extend it until Wednesday Tuesday…GASP! I know!  CrAzY!  But I like a challenge.  For every time I complain, I have to place a dollar in the jar and immediately say something that I am thankful for instead.

How about you?  Can you go 24 hours without complaining?

56 thoughts on “What if Each Complaint Cost You a Dollar?”

  1. Ha. I should do this to my hubby (not that I am not a complainer… but… but…). SHHH! Don’t tell him! What if someone is not too self-aware of their complaints?? How does one catch oneself?

    1. you can usually tell by your mood if you are complaining too much…or else that has been my experience. I also found out that once I was more consciousness of my complaints (by doing this experiment) how much I did complain. It was shocking. You should try it. It was eye opening for me. I was convicted afterwards because when we complain, we are basically complaining against God that He isn’t taking care of us. I know we are not “technically” complaining to Him or about Him, but when we complain about our lives, we are expressing we don’t trust Him and that He is taking care of our circumstances. Or that was my conviction at least. 🙂

  2. Can I join this challenge??? Not only do I not have much to complain about in the grand scheme of things, a positive mind is the best state of mind. 🙂

    1. yes! Let’s report on Wednesday! This should be supa fun! Should we write a blog with our results? I plan on writing my complaints on the dollar so I might just have to list my complaints so that I (and everyone else) can see how ridiculous I am with my complaints.

      I might just have to list the hubby’s as well for entertainment

      1. Ha! I should do it with mine as well but sometimes he’s a curmudgeon so I don’t want to ruin it. But yes, let’s write about it. I agree, I’m sure my complaints that I let into my mind are ridiculous!

    1. similar except the State is not involved and it is all volunteer. Daniel and i volunteer to be “host family” and the parents volunteer to place their child with a “host family”. Some parents might be going homeless and do not want the children to experience all the moving around. Some are single mothers going through chemo and can’t take care of a child due to the illness. Some are just overwhelmed and need a break before they snap. While the children are with a “host family” a “family coach” assists the parents and offers resources to help them get back on their feet. We don’t get any monetary compensation for this like you do with foster care. The parents can also come back at any time and take their children back home. In almost 2 years we have kept 8 children.

  3. I love how real you are about your complaints and why you chose Sunday LOL… This is such a good way to keep our complaining in check!

    1. bahaha! I don’t want to “fluff” anything up…what good would that do? lol! But I will say that since Sunday was a bust last time I would pick a different day. LOL! I kinda thought it would be a piece of cake since I take Goldilocks to a daycare on Monday’s so I can get some stuff done…but as it turns out, we are getting an ice/snow storm tonight so it looks like we will be together tomorrow. YIKES! I’m still planning on winning this challenge 🙂 hehe

  4. Pretty great girly 🙂 I’ve stopped complaining and I’ve just decided to thank God for everything…even my complaints. And thanking Him for all of the things that I know He will bring into our life. Thanking Him for our healthy pregnancy and baby that will happen on His time. Thanking Him for a home that we will one day own…on His time 🙂 You are so good about putting things into perspective and that precious little girl that is in your life now…what a blessing….and the lessons you are learning from her and passing along to us….thank you both 😉

    1. I noticed from my last experiment that I don’t seem to complain about the “big” things like I thought I would (not having children, infertility, etc.). I’m seem to be almost petty in my complaints. UGH! :/ I’ll make sure I do an updated post 🙂

  5. Great experiment. I feel like it is so second-nature to me sometimes that I would forget to keep track! It’s usually all in my head, but that is just as bad! I will try to keep count…I’m sure I’m about to be shamed! lol (love the program you are in!!!)

    1. I thought I wouldn’t catch them either but once you know you aren’t suppose to, it’s sooo easy to catch. I think it’s kind of like dieting…you really don’t pay attention to the amount of calories you eat until someone makes you write them down and then you notice every.single.bite. Keep me updated on how you do.

  6. This is so convicting… something I’ve caught myself doing far too often these past several weeks. This is going to be such a fun experiment to follow along with! Can’t wait for updates!

  7. Love this post. 🙂 As a family we have recently memorised Philippians 2 v 14-15. Reading over those verses every night for weeks sure helped me to become more aware of arguing and complaining! I love the ‘complain/remain’ connection – so true, and a great point to remember.
    I’ll join in with your experiment too.
    My husband has been trying hard lately not to complain at work – pretty hard as the general atmosphere where he works is negative, but he will definitely stand out and bring glory to God when he is the only one not complaining!

    1. yes he would!! My husband usually doesn’t complain much but I am more competitive so I think that edge will cause me to win this one. Lets hope 🙂 I have already put a few things in my “cart”. hahaha!!

    1. let me know how it goes!! I would love to read how a whole family does with this! That would be so much fun!!!

    1. meeee toooo! We had an ice/storm today and our furnace broke on Friday…hopefully the repair guy gets the part tomorrow (even despite the ice and snow) or else I won’t be able to say anything negative about it being cold in our house. YIKES!

  8. how wonderful and happy and thoughtful is this post? i try to live a pretty positive life, but never once have i actually thought about punishing myself for negativity — but i like it! at least a way to make sure your thoughts are staying light and kind and genuine, right?

    1. exactly! It kind of goes back to the old saying, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” This phrase doesn’t just have to apply to “talking about people” but to everything we say in our lives. Thanks for commenting!

  9. This post came at the perfect time for me! I’m going to do this too! (I’m nervous about it though!!) This reminds me of “the glad game” from Pollyanna:-) Goldilocks sounds like such a sweet little dumpling! I’m so glad she has been brought into your life, even if for only a short time. I always love what you are learning from caring for her, I know it can’t be a walk in the park for you or her, but I just love the stories you share! 🙂

    1. It is fo’sho not a walk in the park! LOL! I’m used to “peace and quiet” during the day and going to the store whenever I feel like it but she is a non stop chatter box LOL! There is no more “quiet” times around here. She is fun though! Let me know how you do. I am not sure what I got myself into with this one. We have a ice/snow storm today and tonight and our furnace broke over the weekend :/ YIKES! Starting tomorrow, I can no longer complain about it being cold in our house. hahaha. This should be interesting.

  10. I had the same Walmart thought go through my head last Sunday but I was getting OJ for my husband. It’s a common marketing ploy. Make you walk but tons of stuff and you might buy more. Clever actually, but that doesn’t make it any less of a complaint. This is an interesting concept. I may have to challenge my hubs to participate with me too.

    1. I think it will be fun 🙂 I extended it to two days because I just know we will be on our ‘best behavior’ the first day 🙂

      Yes…the milk! My complaint actually was the fact that I had completed all my grocery shopping and was headed to check out but realized I had forgot the milk. I had to walk allll the way back :/ They could have a small cooler of them in the front. Is that too much to ask?

      1. No, I think it’s a genius idea. I went to Walmart for two items and both were on opposite sides of the store. I think it would have been faster to stop at a small grocery store rather than battle the Walmart Superstore. Lesson learned.

  11. Lovely post! I’ll try this myself. I love this initiative you are doing of being a host family. And this little girl sounds adorable! Isn’t it hard for you when the children leave?

    1. I go into each placement praying that I can love and do everything a mother would do but no get myself emotionally attached. I rely solely on Gods strength. We gave had 8 children in almost two years and so far so good. I am sad when they leave but I don’t stay crushed like I would expect. Sometimes when I start to feel attached I switch to ” full time babysitter” mindset. That helps too.

    1. stay tuned for a picture with my mouth duck taped! lol. I find that i don’t complain about the big things, but rather the little things. Since our heat is broken and an ice storm came, I am doing everything I can to say positive things about seeing my breath inside the house 🙂 lol

  12. We can sure learn a lot from a child. How blessed this sweet girl is to have you in her life and blessed you are to have her too. Thank you for the reminder that we complain too much. Yes, I know I do. And I’d be poor if every complaint cost a dollar, LOL. I like this challenge that you’ve got going and I am going to try my best to make today a complaint free day. Okay…I’ll have to start over from this point, though, because I have already started the day off complaining. XO – Mel

  13. So great!! I love this experiment and I think I need to do this as well. We all need to focus on gratitude and positive thoughts more. Thank you for posting this!

  14. I was just about to update my FB status with a complaint but decided to check out my blogger account first in an attempt to clear my head. I’m so glad I did. This was exactly what I needed to read. Thank you!

    1. try to do it for 24 hours and tell me how it goes. So far, my mood has improved in the short time I have stopped complaining and replaced it with something positive.

  15. I love, love, love your challenge. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Thanks for your post! In regards to the 3 year old, it’s very common for kids being taken in to care to not to complain at first or ever. Being agreeable can be a coping mechanism for survival for kids who have been through so much. So if she changes down the road and starts expressing preferences (even strongly!) do not be discouraged. Rather, be encouraged. Really! 🙂 All the best.

    1. Yes she is our 8th child that we have kept but as I look back none if them seemed to complain much. It makes me wonder if it is a learned trait…something they pick up on as they get older and hear of others complain. Hmmmm

  16. Elisha, this is a great reminder! I love the graphics, especially the one where no one is in the Gratitude line. 🙂 Most nights, right before I go to bed, I write in a journal 4 things I’m grateful for from that day. It helps to put the focus where it needs to be—on Him.

    1. such a great idea! I might do it also first thing when I wake up to get my mind going in the right direction before too much other junk creeps in 🙂

  17. I just love this! Im definitely a complainer as well. Often times I don’t even realize I am doing it. I love that Goldilocks doesn’t complain- Im going to strive to be more like her daily!

    1. I have noticed that if I am careful of my complaints/words then I complain less and I have noticed my mood has improved a lot in just a few days. I discovered I don’t complain about the BIG things in life (money, infertility, health, etc.) but rather petty with my complaints. I have also started to listen to other people more and I was shocked how much every one else complains too…and it’s kinda annoying! LOL! Which made me think…am I also that annoying?! Another reason for me to shut my pie hole 🙂 hehe

  18. You’re such an inspiration! I love this post and I can’t wait to share it with my husband. I’m going to convince him we should try this experiment!

    1. yes you should! I have learned while doing this experiment that I do complain MUCH less when I concentrate on only speaking positive. It has totally improved my mood while standing in the walmart line, waiting in mcdonalds, doing laundry, etc. I have also started to notice other people complaining and to hear them drives me nuts! Which makes me wonder if I used to sound like them?! YIKES!! So far I have only had to add about 5 dollars to jar but he only has 2 :/ I tell him its because he doesn’t watch a 3 year old all day 🙂

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