Monday, February 1, 2016

Complaint Restraint February

I received a reminder email today about Complaint Restraint February. Truthfully, it could not have come at a better time!  I'm struggling with my class at school,  especially since all three days of class were canceled last weekend, but we still had to take the midterm from home. Plus my car is messed up (again). Basically,  there's a bunch of things that I could be complaining about right now.

I signed up for Complaint Restraint February a while ago and didn't think about it too much after that.  But this email gave me a reminder at a great time. Instead of explaining it all, I'll just post the email. Also,  I will post the link below if you would like to join and try to look at the positive aspects of your life this month,  instead of complaining.

Let the Complaint Games Begin! 

Hello there!

Today is the first day of this year’s Complaint Restraint February. I’ve already complained once this morning. Pieter earlier on complained about his laundry, and then complained about complaining. But we notice, and we try. So can you.

We don’t know how to change your life. What we do know is that participating in Complaint Restraint every February has helped us to get to know ourselves better. And so today I want to share that aspect with you. This project is not a self-help book in the making, promise. But there’s some self help involved: organizing Complaint Restraint February allows us to listen a bit more to ourselves than we usually do. It allows us to realize where our superficial complaints come from, and to spur us into action to change our circumstances.

But let me be clear: I’m talking from a position of privilege. I’m a white male born in Switzerland. Pieter is from Belgium. You may not be born into as lucky circumstances as we were, or may not live in such circumstances at the moment. And so we definitely don’t want to tell you what to do to change any of that. We can’t.

But what we do know is that doing this each February has helped us to let go of useless complaints. And with that, it has helped us to let go of anger and bitterness that didn’t help us get better at all. While we can’t help you change your life, what you can do yourself is to look at the positive side of your life whenever you’re included to instead focus on small negative aspects.

On Friday, when you see your friends after work and they ask you how your week was—how about telling them about that great evening you spent with your parents, or your new partner, instead of complaining about your shitty boss? How about talking about how the wind in your face felt awesome on Thursday, instead of moaning about how horrible winter weather generally is?

We take Complaint Restraint one moment at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time. That’s how it started, too—Pieter and I agreeing to not complaining for a single week, more than five years ago.

Last year, someone took part in Complaint Restraint February who was going to move cities in February. That sounds pretty horrible. But they did the move and kept up their goal of not complaining. So how about not complaining about having missed the bus this morning? It’s February, there’s always lots to complain about. Instead, how about you focus on the things you are happy about, and make them a larger part of your life.

Grab a friend, tell them about your new project this month, and get going. One complaint at a time—and remember, there’s no magic bullet. Whenever you complain, just remind yourself of your larger goal, and keep going.

Time to get going!
Thierry & Pieter

PS: We had some trouble with our email address last week. If you’d consider writing a few words about your own experiences with Complaint Restraint, simply reply to this email and we’ll get back to you soon. Thank you!
Copyright © 2016 Complaint Restraint Project, All rights reserved.

If you would like to subscribe to the Complaint Restraint February emails click here or visit

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