Criticize by Creating (Not Complaining)

Special thanks to Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative recent podcast with Brian Wells on Risk, Entrepreneurship, and Criticizing by Creating. You can listen to it by clicking here.

We complain a lot. All of us.

We Americans love to bitch and moan about why we don’t have this or that or why such and such didn’t meet our needs and how our coworker isn’t pulling weight or why the soup is too hot or too cool or why this or that family member didn’t say the right thing at exactly the right time.

We want it our way right away.

And we justify our bad moods by pointing out all the disfunction and poor service and horrible people around us.

Is there a more productive way to be dissatisfied than complaining?

Dissatisfaction, I would contend, is almost a virtue. It should go hand-in-hand with contentment.

I’m content with my life…. I love my family. I enjoy my job. I like that I have some time to write my thoughts out and occasionally help others in the process.

But I’m not satisfied. I pray that I’ve not hit the ceiling in any of the areas in my life that I feel are important.

It’s when this dissatisfaction is turned toward blaming others and complaining about circumstances that we get out of whack.

The better way to criticize what’s going on in our worlds or to be dissatisfied with our current situation is by creating, not complaining.

We have incredible power to influence our circumstances. Very few of us are truly unable to change whatever situation we’re in – if only to change the way we mentally view that situation.

We have creative power.

When we are tempted to complain and wallow, we should ask ourselves these questions:

  • What can I do right now to make this thing I’m complaining about better?
  • How can I create a new mindset or better circumstances for myself and others?
  • Can I initiate a difficult conversation?
  • Can I force myself to have a different perspective?
  • Can I decide that so-and-so doesn’t have the power over me that I give him or her?
  • What lies am I telling myself?
  • What ugly motives have I forced on someone that they might really not have?
  • If I don’t like the way a coach, teacher, or preacher is acting, how can I get involved in a helpful way to make things a little better?

This post isn’t a request that you or I stop having ill feelings about situations that happen, but it is a request that we default toward creating solutions vs. complaining. Even if there’s absolutely nothing we can do about it, we can learn to think in ways that lead toward problem solving vs. feeling as if we have no control or ability to make change.

In other words, being creative takes us out of acting as if we’re helpless victims of circumstances or others’ opinions.  And that’s a freeing thing to realize we’re not helpless.

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