The Complaint Jar - Breaking the Negativity Habit

Hi there friend.

 This week Rick and I decided to challenge one another on a habit that we both separately identified as getting in the way of our goals. And we are doing it in a kind of fun way that I want to share with you.

 We now have a “complaint jar”.

 This complaint jar earns a quarter every time one of us complains about something. It’s turning out to be a really funny way to support each other in being more positive. 

 The ultimate outcome of this exercise is to support the re-work our neural pathways to see the good more than the bad, and we are having some laughs while we are working on it.

 One rule we have is that you cannot argue when the other person calls you out on a complaint. It keeps us honest, and pushes the boundaries of each of our positivity – negativity scales just a little bit. This has sparked a couple healthy discussions on what is a positive or “constructive” comment… and is working well.

 The $$ in this jar is not a reward, or a penalty really, for complaints. It is a way to visually measure how we are progressing with this changing our way of viewing the world. The goal is to see that jar fill much slower over time. And the reward is seeing how much happier we are every day when we are seeing more positivity because we have been working on re-wiring our brains to see it more.

 The old saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is proven to be un-true. Our thought pathways develop and change over time as we use them. I like to describe our thoughts and behaviors using roads as an example. 

The roads you travel the most often are wide and smooth and easy to drive on. Our usual thoughts and behaviors are like our brains driving on these roads. 

When we start to learn or do something new, a thought pattern or a behavior, we are choosing to travel down a side road that is less traveled. There are some potholes, some weeds, and a tree or two growing up the middle. But as we keep practicing, and choosing that side road, the side road becomes more traveled. The weeds recede, trees shrink back, and the potholes get evened out. 

While this is going on that old main road you used to travel is starting to show some cracks and bumps, and isn’t as comfortable to travel on anymore.

Eventually, with enough repetition, that side road has become your wide and smooth main route to travel on. 

 How is that for a description of how your brain builds new neural pathways? 

 This is what we are trying to do with this challenge. 

 Instead of looking out the door in the morning and grumping because it’s raining again, I’m just overlooking it and putting on my raincoat and being happy I get to walk my dog today, or go for that run I’ve chosen to do.

 Plus, its really funny to see the look on Rick’s face when he catches himself with a complaint before I can even get the chance to call him out on it! 

 In the beginning he agreed to do this challenge to support me and didn’t think he had anything to gain from it. Not even half a day in he was a little surprised at how much he was getting called out to contribute to the “complaint jar”.

 We have been getting pretty hard into audio books lately. The “complaint jar” idea came to me after listening to ‘Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results’, by James Clear. Measuring the behavior is turning out to be a really effective practice!

 Are you wondering how we both identified the need to remove some negativity from our daily lives? Well, it was another book. We also finished ‘Can’t Hurt Me’ by David Goggins. 

 Let me tell you, that guy is inspiring! 

 There has been an awful lot of “Roger that!” going on around our house since finishing that book. And it’s been AWESOME!!!!

 Thank you for reading, and I hope you all enjoyed hearing about our challenge this week. 

 I would love to hear from you if there are any habits you have that you are working on changing, and what strategies you are using to help make those changes.

 With all my love,


 PS – if you are interested is learning more about habit building and mindset change, head on over to our facebook and join our free group challenge that is going on right now “Building the Endurance Mind-Set”. It has already started, but you can jump in on any challenge, a new one starts each week.