I handed everyone at the table a rubber band and told them to put it around their wrists like a bracelet.
We slipped it on as we finished dinner and I read these instructions from our dinner time devotional: Every time you grumble or complain, snap your rubber band.
The day before we memorized John 6:43, “Stop grumbling among yourselves.”
Guess who got the first “pop?”
My kids laughed as the first complaint rolled off my tongue just minutes after reading our assignment. I wasn’t even trying to show them an example of what not to do. I didn’t even know I was going to grumble about cleaning up our dinner mess. Because sometimes complaining is just our second nature.
I rubbed my wrist and watched my words.
We all did. Our 24 hour experiment proved to leave our wrists a little tender and our tongues a little more controlled.
We were listening for the bemoaning and bellyaching. We pointed out when we heard each other complain.
The most important thing this experiment did? It made us think before we spoke. It made us more aware.
Grumbling comes too easy. And when we try not to do it, we see how often we whine or complain–about each other, about our situations, about what we have and what we don’t.
When we really get a good look at what’s underneath all those negative words, we find ingratitude.
Because let’s face it: we probably all can find something to gripe about. But when we think before we speak, we can always find something to be thankful for.
Try this simple lesson today (and if rubber bands won’t work for you, keep tally marks on the kitchen calendar or cheerios around a yarn bracelet and break one off with every complaint).
Here’s what a lesson in complaining less does for all of us:
1. It forces us to admit how often we grumble or whine or speak negatively about ourselves or others
2. It causes us to think before we speak
3. It gives us the opportunity to choose gratitude over grumbling.
And while this lesson won’t necessarily rid our homes of complaining (ask me how I know), it will certainly give us something to (think) and talk about.