Warren Buffett’s business partner and investment guru Charlie Munger tells this story:
“I have a friend who carried a big stack of index cards. Whenever someone said something that reflected self pity, he handed them a card: Your story has touched my heart. Never have I heard of anyone with as many misfortunes as you.”
The moral of the story: stop collecting index cards.
Complaining doesn’t accomplish anything positive, other than allowing us to vent. Perhaps venting should be kept to one’s spouse or a very close friend.
Orison Swett Marden called complaining “syndicating your sorrows.” By sharing with others, you bring your sorrows and disappointments into their lives.
We all have complaints. I’m guilty of complaining and certainly haven’t completely broken the habit in my own life. What I have learned is that there is little, if any, upside to complaining. It paints you as a negative and unappreciative person. Why unappreciative? Because in the midst of any disappointments and setbacks, there are still blessings to be counted. And there is always–yes, I know this sounds cliche–someone who has it worse than you.
There are times we can benefit from venting to a friend who is willing to listen. But complaining is usually about giving voice to grievances and injustices we feel we’ve suffered. If there is something that can be done to address and right a complaint, then do it. If not, remember not to talk about it. You’ll just be collecting index cards.