If you are from the UK you will know what ‘Clap for the NHS’ is  – a time during Coronavirus lockdown where members of the public went outside once a week at 8pm to show solidarity to healthcare staff and key workers.

I was overwhelmed the first time this happened – my whole street was outside to clap and cheer, an event I never expected to happen, which for a moment, created feelings of positivity, and a sense of unity in a country that in recent years has been divided by negativity.

Unfortunately, this sense of optimism didn’t last and complaining creeped back into normality.

Because of this I decided to bring it back the No Complaining Challenge to 2020, and invited YOU to try it too!

How does not complaining alter your mind?

In a world of phony tips, tricks, and hacks it seems almost too easy to stop complaining, by simply trying not to complain.

But to understand how your mind work, read this quote from The Entrepreneur:

“Your brain loves efficiency and doesn’t like to work any harder than it has to. When you repeat a behavior, such as complaining, your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat that behavior in the future — so easy, in fact, that you might not even realize you’re doing it.”

The Entrepreneur – How Complaining Rewires Your Brain For Negativity

Considering this, it’s comforting knowing the more you practice the no complaining habit, the easier it gets!

If you’ve just coming across the No Complaining Challenge, I implore you to start it today!

Reflections from trying not to complain for three weeks

As this is the second time I undertook this challenge, it’s worth noting how much easier it felt than last year.  Since my first undertaking I do feel I act more positively, but there is always room for improvement!

What has helped

What I control

As reader Hugh pointed out in the comments:

…I‘ve also taught myself not to get stressed out, angry or upset about anything which is out of my control and I can not do anything about…

(Read original post/full comment at How Do You React to Stressful Situations)

Recognising what you can and can’t control is useful to managing how you complain.

Think about it:

  • If you CAN control it, then you don’t complain, take action.
  • If you CAN’T control it, then complaining is pointless, then this is a futile task, so don’t bother.

Cutting down social media

I have a love-hate relationship with social media.  As a writer and blogger, it’s enticing to use to increase your audience reach.

But it’s also a massive source of negativity – Twitter is a great example of a place to highlight things to complain about that you would be oblivious to if you didn’t use the app.

Cutting down it’s use, spending more time reading books and being fully engaged around family is better than finding things to be negative about!

No ‘legacy’ media

This morning, BBC News reported

“UK officially in recession for first time in 11 years…”

A feeling of dread came over me.

The news continued… more on Coronavirus death figures, being over analysed by “experts”, then something about the mess up on student grades.

If you live through the news, the world seems a bleak place which only makes you feel down, complaining into a void about things we have no control over.

I remember how much happier I am not watching the news – that is why I recommend no media.  If you don’t want to take my word for it, watch this:

Keep being grateful

An antidote to complaining is gratitude.

When something stresses you out, identify what you have to be grateful for.

Any problems that arise, creates opportunities for gratitude.

What I was always bad at complaining about…

I think I’m a pretty optimistic guy, but the challenge is always a good experience to reflect on when/why I do complain.

Something that’s always been bad for me, and, I imagine for thousands of others is driving.

There is something about the safety of that metal tin box that brings out that foul mouthed demon, that would never act this way in any other situation.

During the challenge I knew this is what I wanted to change – I don’t want my kids thinking acting hysterical is appropriate behaviour because some cut you up, and I certainly don’t want them copying my language!

The last three weeks has seen a more relaxed me.  I’m more likely to think

“It’s too early for this”

Than shout

“Stop crawling up my arse!”

My acceptance with driving has been to accept we all make mistakes and be more forgiving.

To top my driving experience off, I’ll end with something that happened to me during the first week of the challenge:

I headed out to support a local restaurant with a takeout collection.

As I made my way home along a winding road, I came to a long snake-like corner.  As the blindspot gradually revealed itself, I was greeted by headlights bearing down on me from a car coming the opposite direction.

The driver jerked the car back to their side of road rapidly, where I realised they had decided to take the risk of passing a cyclist on a tight corner.

I looked back in my wing mirror; the cyclist fortunately looked unaffected (physically).

Perhaps it was the shock of the near miss, normally I would have ranted angrily to myself, but instead look on the incident philosophically.

I considered the prospect that IF I had been 10 metres further, it would probably have been my end.

Then, I began thinking of what I was leaving behind – my wife, kids, a series of ‘No Complaining Challenge’ blog posts never to be published.

What impact on this world would my departure have?  Would it?

Whoever was driving that day could have killed me, and still I did not complain.

The moral?

If I can manage not to complain about nearly facing death, you can keep your opinion to yourself about whatever the latest insignificant current event is.


Thank you…

Thank you to everyone for taking part in the challenge.  Now the three weeks are up I challenge YOU to keep taking a more positive approach to life.

How has it been for you?


<<if the NO Complaining challenge interests you check out The No Complaining Challenge 2020 to get started>>


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9 thoughts on “The No Complaining Challenge 2020: A Retrospective

  1. This is awesome. I’m with you that driving is a huge source of complaining. The other stuff is too, but driving is a huge one. I haven’t been driving much due to COVID-related working from home, which helps, but driving is usually a cause of rising tension. After reading this, I’ll be trying to complain less while driving . . . and in general!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. My attitude to driving has changed so much recently. I think of it like approaching goal, rather than being focused on getting from A to B, I try and enjoy the journey instead.

      It’s a good thing to practice not complaining, I do feel a lot of my ‘issues’ are much of nothing!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There are thousands of reasons to avoid the news, I’ve never liked that there is always an ‘agenda’ rather than focusing on facts.

      When I became an adult I thought following the news was something you had to do to keep up with other adults conversations, now I pride myself on being out of touch!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just try to follow business news; ultimately any news that is big enough to have an impact on the world of business will make its way into such news, and that’s enough for me.

        Liked by 1 person

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