It’s been 2 months since I committed to living out a full twenty-four hour day without lobbing a single complaint.

Though I never fully succeeded at a full twenty-four hour period, my attempts still changed me for the better.

I still work to avoid complaining, and that, in and of itself, is a successful result of the commitment. I’m like a dieter who documented all my calories for a month, lost a bunch of weight, and learned enough about calories to become consciously aware of what I’m eating on a daily basis.

Also like a dieter, I need to make periodic commitments to document again for a few days when weight starts to creep up. So today, November 16, 2014, I’m restarting the commitment. I’ve been awake since 4:00 AM and haven’t complained yet. So my timer is running and I’m off to a good start.

People can change, but slowly. This September first commitment has changed me slightly, and I like the change. I can now “feel in my gut” when a complaint is churning and hurting my chances at having a good day.

Through my September efforts, I have established a new baseline, so that by going back into today’s no-complaints challenge, I’m starting a little higher up the staircase than I was at two-and-a-half months ago. I have nowhere to go but up.

Ultimately, I am the only person who can improve my own life by choosing to celebrate its positive moments and simply accept its not-so positive ones.

Comments by readers and things I’ve learned in my psychology classes this month are:

1) Complaints are the opposite of gratitudes. When I choose to be grateful for what I do have, I’m doing the opposite of complaining about it. So perhaps I’ll try this: Each time I’m tempted to complain, I’ll require myself to make restitution by offering one earnest gratitude in its stead.

2) We’re more empowered than we give ourselves credit for: In most situations, we do have choices. Most of us become sick in life because we don’t admit we have choices. All too often we say, “I don’t have any choice but to; work here; stay with him/her; go to Thanksgiving with those people I hate; be a member of this group; pay these bills; etc, etc, etc.” But the truth is that we almost always do have choices—we just don’t like those choices. Learning to admit that I can quit my job if I want to, or not attend a party with people I don’t like, or whatever, empowers me to remember that I am not trapped in my life. I really can change things if I want to mitigate the risks. Making this a more automatic response in my own head will only serve to make me better and better at quickly seeing my choices and possibly become better and making better choices going forward.

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