- Thoughts for inspired living

July 14, 2009


Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 6:28 am

It seems the only people who don’t complain are dead. It’s one of the things we humans do.

Some, though, have made it into an art form. Such was the case yesterday when my plumber arrived to fix the hot water heater.

The control mechanism on the front of the heater was malfunctioning and needed to be replaced. This entailed draining the heater of all water and removing some of the pipes. It was about an hour’s job. During that time, my plumber complained about everything – the local taxes, the stimulus plan, health care, his family members, our governor, our representatives, the water heater company, the Mexican factories, the Chinese workers, the neighborhood and the ice cream man.

I was mesmerized about the number of things he complained about and the passion he attached to each complaint. Somewhere along the way, I noticed a pack of cigarettes in his pocket. I asked him to imagine that President Obama was on TV addressing him personally and came up with a plan to put money into his pocket right away and improve his health. I asked if he would be interested in hearing that plan. He said “Yes.”

I said, “Here’s the plan: Stop smoking now!”

He briefly addressed his smoking habit and then quickly re-launched his barrage of complaints against everyone and anything. He is truly a serial complainer.

I brought his attention back to his cigarette habit and again he stayed on the topic for a few seconds before going off on another litany of complaints.

It then dawned on me. My plumber was teaching me the strategy of the complainer.

The complainer complains about things they can’t do anything about and doesn’t do anything about the things they can directly influence. That’s a strategy for being a perpetual victim.

Many years ago there was a book by Robert Ringer called “Looking Out For #1.” One of the things I took away from reading that book was this: Complain to the person that can help you. Complaining to the air or to no one in particular always has the same result – more unresolved complaints.

You could easily make a list of things to complain about and add to that list every day. It’s a matter of focus. What if you decided to make a list of complaints that you could do something about and sought out the people who could help you? That’s the beginning of a plan.

I could appreciate complaining more if it made the constant complainer feel better, but the evidence is to the contrary – they feel worse, and so do the people around them. They remain in the noose of negativity and attempt to choke everyone in their path.

It’s hard to remain in the company of a complainer unless you are one yourself. That scenario has you both throw up on each other ad nauseam without noticing, because you aren’t listening to them and they aren’t listening to you.

The way to get heard is to complain to someone who can help you. The way to begin resolving your complaints is to do something about the ones you can influence.

Ask yourself this: What’s my recurring complaint? When you get an answer, find out if it’s something you can influence by taking some action. If not, find out if it’s something that someone can help you with. If not, it’s time to let it go.

Constant complaining is drama of the most annoying order and it’s a surefire way to keep people away from you. People who always complain are, as my uncle used to say, “A pain in the drain.”

There is a plan to resolve our complaints. We just have to stop complaining long enough to act on it.

All the best,



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