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The Uncomplained Life is Not Worth Living


 

Complaining is one life’s great pleasures. The best complainers (e.g. Mordecai Richler, Noel Gallagher) are artists of the form. Opinion writing is basically just professional complaining; what makes getting to write columns so enjoyable is that it is basically a license to regularly think up new  things to kvetch about. My old editor at This Magazine, the fantastic Julie Crysler (who coined the Rebel Sell meme, btw) used to get me to write by simply asking me what was bugging me. Everything, was the usual answer, but she was good at helping narrow it down. 

 In short,  you’d think that a recession like the current one would be a great occasion for a celebration of some Grade A complaining. But nooooh, not if a bunch of insufferable killjoys have their way.

To begin with, it would appear that grouchiness is taking a break:

Job satisfaction is actually up, according to a December 2008 survey by Yahoo! HotJobs. Almost 38% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 28% in 2007, a likely sign that people are grateful they’re still employed. And every week now, we hear reports of workers accepting pay cuts or furloughs without complaint — some of them acts of solidarity to protect jobs elsewhere in their companies. 

Who are these losers? But wait, there’s worse:

There is also a growing “noncomplaining” movement that touts the belief that whining doesn’t work as a strategy, and that happiness can be found through rituals such as writing in “gratitude journals.” Will Bowen, a minister in Kansas City, Mo., is on a mission. His nonprofit organization, A Complaint Free World Inc., has distributed almost six million purple bracelets emblazoned with the group’s name. When wearers find themselves complaining, they’re asked to switch bracelets to their other wrists. The goal is to go 21 days without having to switch.

It is hard to find words for just how obnoxious this is. “A Complaint Free World”? WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT??

Complaining is what makes us human, what differentiates us from the other monkeys kunckling around the planet. The first human was first primate who woke up cold one morning, contemplated another breakfast of rotten bananas and tree grubs, and thought, “boy this sucks.” 

Here’s the thing: Complaining is essentially a form of optimism; it is an expression of dissatisfaction with the world, an assertion that things could — and bloody well should — be better. Sucking it up, grinning and bearing it, writing in your fricking “gratitude journal” – none of that is going to help get us out of this mess. It’s the complainers of the world who are going to get sick and tired of not having martinis and steaks and Xboxes and Mercedeses, who will finally do something about it and start fixing the economy. And once it’s fixed, things will still suck, and the complainers will set about fixing that too.

If you’re tired of complaining you’re tired of life. Bitching is a form of hope. Gratitude is death. 

(Thanks, as always, to the Handcaper)


 
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The Uncomplained Life is Not Worth Living

  1. “Almost 38% of respondents said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs, compared with 28% in 2007”

    Or that unhappy workers are more likely to be fired (much in keeping with the finding that in downsizing the best connected workers are least likely to get the sack).

    • I was the thinking the same thing as hosertohoosier, but the author’s point is quite valid too.

      ENTERTAINING ARTICLE! Couldn’t stop LMAO!

      “If you’re tired of complaining you’re tired of life. Bitching is a form of hope. Gratitude is death.”
      ~That might explain the abundance of old crotchety seniors…

  2. morons never complain uhh sorry ignorance is bliss

  3. “This” magazine (I dare not write the m word lest the autobot serves me up for moderation) this rock, this England! fears my optimism!

    • And embraces my pessimism!

  4. Complaining is what makes us human, what differentiates us from the other monkeys kunckling around the planet.

    Other applications of the ever-popular expression: “_____ is what makes us human.”

    Science, technology, conscience, language, cooking, caring, a soul, biological nomenclature quantifying unique genetic patterns, belief in God, the ability to perceive truth, free will, hypocrisy, laughter, our capacity to suffer, emotions, empathy, our undiminished wonder at the mystery which surrounds us, creativity, spirituality, politics, war, awareness, to love and be loved.

    Check for yourself!
    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=“is+what+makes+us+human”&btnG=Search&meta=

    • I vote for “complaining”.

  5. “Everything, was the usual answer…”

    Literal “lol.” :-)

  6. It’s the complainers of the world who are going to get sick and tired of not having martinis and steaks and Xboxes and Mercedeses, who will finally do something about it and start fixing the economy.

    Obviously Andrew’s being at least somewhat tongue in cheek here, but I really don’t buy this argument for a second. I tend to think that bitching and moaning allows people to vent their frustration so they don’t feel the need to do anything else about their lot, let alone the lot of others. For those who haven’t seen it, I think Louis CK’s appearance on Conan is a useful counter-point to the argument advanced here by Andrew.

    • Not even a second?

      • You got me. I did buy it for one second. But only one. I just can’t tell how serious you’re being. If you could add some kind of emoticonic smirk where warranted, just to suit the satirically challenged, it would be much appreciated from this member of the peanut gallery.

        • Do i hear a compaint?

    • I think Andrew should debate Louis CK

  7. To paraphrase the handcaper:

    There are two kinds of neurotics in Canada: those who are overly preoccupied with complaining, and those who are overly preoccupied with gratitude. Maybe three, if you count journalists.

  8. When considered in light of Kenneth Minogue’s great article on the corrosive effects of mandated niceness (http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/node/942/full), I believe Andrew is on to a worthwhile point. Progress is retarded when we suppress normal human reactions like social friction and discontent with the state of things in favour of impositions ranging from “gratitude journals” to tolerance policing.

  9. Agreed, but having said that, there are those who complain too much without doing much to change things. There is a grey area where complaining as a catalyst for change becomes unhelpful negativity. I think this is the point of the “non complaining” movement. Granted, 21 days without a complaint is a bit rich. But I’ve reached points where I’ve bitched about something so much that I had to deliberately switch that part of me “off” before people started saying “I know he hates it, but does he have to go on about it?”

    By the way, there are several loopholes by which someone wouldn’t have to switch the bracelet. “I hate my boss” can become “I just love how much my boss doesn’t humiliate me as much as he could.”

  10. “It’s the complainers of the world who are going to get sick and tired of not having martinis and steaks and Xboxes and Mercedeses, who will finally do something about it and start fixing the economy.”

    This is both flippant and containing nugget of truth. I don’t know if it’s complainers specifically but, generally, people who are tired of not having martinis, steaks … will be the entrepreneurs and inventors who start to turn economy around.

    “If you’re tired of complaining you’re tired of life. Bitching is a form of hope. Gratitude is death”

    Spot on, Andrew. Do you have Scottish background as well? :)

    • “It’s the complainers of the world who are going to get sick and tired of not having martinis and steaks and Xboxes and Mercedeses, who will finally do something about it and start fixing the economy.”

      I tend to agree. I also think that many future entrepreneurs will be driven by a desire for control, having witnessed or experienced firsthand what happens to employees in tough times.

      My spouse is launching a business next week, at least partly out of that very motivation.

      • Good luck to her, hope she succeeds.

        • Thanks!

    • There is a difference between complaining and being dissastisfied with one’s situation. Normally complainers blame others, and expect others to change their behaviour to suit the complainer. Complainers are the ones screaming for the government to Do Something Already, whilst having no idea what exactly they want the government to do.

      You probably didn’t see Einstein running around saying “Gawd, why hasn’t someone come up with a general theory of relativity yet? What’s the hold up people!?!”

      • That doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking it.

      • “There is a difference between complaining and being dissastisfied with one’s situation.”

        Good distinction, Olaf.

        Just finished reading this story and I am thinking Latreasa won’t be starting a new business any time soon.

        ” Latreasa Goodman, 27, purchased a 10-piece McNugget meal from a branch of the fast food chain in Fort Pierce on Feb 28, but was then told she would receive different items from the menu because McNuggets were out of stock. When she asked for her money back, she was told that that company policy was not to give refunds.

        She told police who arrived at the restaurant: “This is an emergency. If I would have known they didn’t have McNuggets, I wouldn’t have given my money, and now she wants to give me a McDouble, but I don’t want one.”

        “I called 911 because I couldn’t get a refund, and I wanted my McNuggets,” she said, according to the Fort Pierce Police Department report.” Daily Telegraph, March 04 ’09

      • I tend to agree. I can imagine one of the first conversations in Eden:
        God:” Mor’n Adam. it’s a lovely day, isn’t it?
        Adam:” Yes Lord it is…however…”?
        God: Ominously..” Yeess…???
        Adam:meekly:”It is lovely…but the sky…don’t you think it’s just a smidgen too blue…and the water, it is a tad on the cool side. Not that i’m complaining mind you.”
        God: muttering to himself as he walks away.
        ” I knew i should have stuck to my original plan and give dominion over all the earth to the dolphins, but the would insist on staying as far from Adam as they possibly could. Hmmm… i wonder why…”?

    • aye

  11. Here’s the thing: Complaining is essentially a form of optimism; it is an expression of dissatisfaction with the world, an assertion that things could — and bloody well should — be better.

    Really? Do you have any evidence to back that up? In my experience (as a trouble-shooter for dysfunctional organisations), complaining is quite often a deflection from taking personal responsibility, an excuse for immobility or as a substitute for substantive criticism.

    There’s usually something worthwhile (although likely uninteresting or unremarkable) in knowing what is at the foundation of a complaint, but often, it’s nothing anyone else can resolve.

  12. “Bitching is a form of hope. Gratitude is death.” I like that!

    • So do I. I would revise it to say: ‘Complacency is death.’

      Gratitude is lovely. We should be grateful for things we have, and bitch about the injustices of the world (not just the injustices we see perpetrated on us).

  13. Here’s as good an opportunity as any to pitch a Woody Allen story i vaguely recall.

    Two Jewish ladies are having their usual in their local eatery.
    One turns to the other and remarks.
    “The food in here is so awful, isn’t it”?
    Her companion:
    “Yes my dear, and it comes in such small portions too”!

    If i ever take up a formal religion it will be Judaism. Mainly because it allows the concept of “wrestling” with God. This does allow for some wonderful comedic possibilities and may even allow some license for complaint. Although there are much darker possibilities for Jewish humour being so funny!

    • I’m also reminded of Jeremy Hotz.

      “What a miserable X this is!”

    • But then , in order to fend off the elbows of your own personal clique of complainers you’ll have to learn how to spell kvetch.

      • And shmozzle and…

  14. There really are different ways of expressing dissatisfaction. One that’s sorely lacking in our culture is the critic who’s positively gleeful when confronted with the complex nonsense we’re exposed to, day in and day out. All we’ve got are the dreary moaners and the chirping Pollyanna’s. Or, worst of all, the excruciatingly, painfully earnest.

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