Mike McGough
April 2019

We've all met them, put up with them, endured them, been annoyed by them, chuckled at them, found them bothersome, and at times acted exactly like them. They are complainers. Regardless of the time, the place, the situation, or the circumstance, they seem to be able to find something about which to complain. If they won a multi-million dollar lottery prize, they’d complain about having to drive to lottery headquarters to claim it.

Complainers, like most groups of people, come in all shapes, sizes, and ages, and neither gender seems to have cornered the market. They cross all intellectual, cultural, social and professional lines, and the haves are as apt to complain as the have-nots. Complaining is clearly something at which anyone can be good. And with sufficient practice over a long enough period of time, some folks have actually raised the fine art of complaining to an art form. From time to time we all go through periods when complaining seems like the right thing to do, but some folks seem to live there, having turned grousing into a way of life.

The periodic gripe or grumble is an understandable part of daily life. We make them, we hear them, and we get past them. There is generally no great harm or foul, and there is no real damage to interpersonal relationships. The habitual complainer on the other hand, can and often does adversely affect interpersonal relationship. This happens because they tend to put people off and fatigue them with their constant complaining. The cantankerous and whiney souls tend to wear people out, and once identified as such a nitpicker, most folks try to avoid the habitual griper. Everyone has their daily concerns and issues, and having to put up with someone else nitpicking everything becomes an annoyance. Complainers are tiresome and bothersome individuals. No small wonder why they so often find themselves with few if any close friends.

Those who devote too much of their time to carping about everything also become a burden to themselves. In time they begin to wear themselves down. Some complainers have perfected the process of criticizing to the point where they actually complain to themselves. Their self-talk becomes infested with the same constant barrage of negativity that they share with others. That's got to eventually get tiresome!

People who turn nagging or grumbling into a habit eventually begin to see everything through the lens of their nitpicking attitude. Their bad habit becomes their daily routine. In time nothing comes up to par with them. Everything has a problem or problems attached to it. Nothing is ever good enough. Over the long haul, such a view undoubtedly clouds the complainers' days and produces an irritating, negative, and unpleasant perspective on life. Everyone faces challenges throughout life, and in like manner everyone enjoys opportunities. For the complainers, their challenges are far worse than those faced by anyone else, and all of their opportunities are laced with challenges that others don’t seem to encounter.

We all know someone who could easily earn a spot in the Moaners Hall of Fame. They are accomplished gripers, and they seldom pass up an opportunity to further hone their complaining skills. Because of the time and energy they devote to complaining, they tend to diminish the time and energy they have for getting anything accomplished. They would sooner complain than do something to try and solve the problems they so readily identify. They're too busy finding fault, whining, carping, grumbling, nagging, grousing, protesting, and moaning to act. They spend their energy finding fault and accomplishing little else. What a waste of time, energy, and talent. As Henry Ford once said, "Don't find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain."

The reasons why complainers find it necessary to constantly gripe about something are probably as varied and numerous as the complainers themselves. It may well have something to do with their overall perspective on life. We've all heard the metaphor of the half glass of water. Some folks will see it as half full, while others will see it as half empty. Those who see it as half full appreciate what is there, while those who see it as half empty are annoyed but what is missing. Clearly, it's all a matter of perspective.

Unless there is some major transformation in basic human nature, the complainers will always be among us. And depending on the type of day we're having, they will amuse us, annoy us, or accomplish something in between with their daily grousing. As they do, the words of one old adage may well help us keep them in perspective. As that old saying warns, "We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or we can rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

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