Wed | Oct 17, 2018


Published:Wednesday | January 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

"If you don't like something, change it.

If you cant change it, change your attitude.

Don't complain."

- Maya Angelou

IF THE past year has not turned out quite the way we wanted, then we must give serious thought to what things we need to change in our lives. As personal development guru Jim Rohn said, "For things to change, you have to change."

I believe that one of the most important areas in our lives where improvement would give the greatest bang for our buck is in our attitude. Yes, attitude determines altitude. Most of us spend too much valuable time focusing on the things we do not want. We complain too much. Psychologists in the United States of America estimate that the average person complains between 15 and 30 times per day. Sometimes the 'complaint count' in Jamaica seems even higher.

Whatever we focus on, we encourage and enlarge. The very act of giving something your attention, energises and expands it.

Will Bowen, in his bestselling book, A Complaint Free World, defines a complaint as an energetic statement that focuses on the problem at hand rather than the resolution sought. He goes on to give a deep insight into what complaining really is: "Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. To refrain from complaining doesn't necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behaviour. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up - if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. How dare you serve me cold soup? That's complaining."

The word complain in Chinese is actually composed of two symbols, 'hug' and 'ego'. The Chinese considered complaining to be 'hugging your ego.'

One of the most common things people complain excessively about is their health. At a conscious or unconscious level, this is usually designed to attract attention or sympathy. But as I explained earlier, whatever you focus on, you magnify. A continuous focus on a symptom tends to make it worse.

Doctors now admit that most of their time is spent treating patients whose illnesses have a psychological cause. The mind and body is really one synchronous unit. Whatever the mind believes, the body will reveal. Medical research has repeatedly shown that what a person believes about his or her health leads to that belief becoming their reality.

I am not suggesting that we deny our health challenges. I am encouraging us to focus on solutions - on the reality we wish to experience more that the 'problem'. Research suggests that complainers suffer more.

The dictionary defines 'proclaim' as to declare something one considers important with due emphasis.

Unfortunately, society has programmed most of us to seek out the negatives. Just check out the radio or television news on any given day. The overwhelming majority of its content is devoted to bad news - crime, violence and murder. A visitor to our planet watching it would believe that everything here is wrong. We are busy proclaiming the negatives.

I suggest that we spend more time and energy on the many positives and blessings in our lives rather than bemoan what we perceive to be wrong. The truth is that there are far more good things happening than 'bad' things. I remember seeing a patient who was complaining loudly about the arthritis pain he was feeling in his right big toe.

In helping him deal with his discomfort, I asked about his other toes, the joints of his hands, back, shoulders, etc. It turned out that of the 360 joints in his body, only one was hurting. I invited him to give thanks and celebrate and proclaim how well the rest of his body felt. To his amazement, his big toe pain diminished.

Just imagine what our lives, our country and our world would be like if we stopped complaining. There is a wonderful website,, that is devoted to promoting this ideal. Will Bowen, its founder, had developed a simple technique to help people become complaint-free. Over 10 million people worldwide have taken up his challenge to go for 21 consecutive days complaint-free. Many have found it a life-changing experience. For details, please visit the website or read his book of the same name.

I wish for all our readers a happy, healthy and complaint-free 2015.

n You may email Dr Vendryes at or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106 FM on Fridays at 8:15 p.m. Details of his new book, 'An Ounce of Prevention - Particularly for Men', is available on