I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


Because I know I want to get rid of them in my own life, I wrote about complaints in Word Shift...

and gossip...

When I hosted a #tlap chat about Word Shift, I mentioned my desire to stop complaining.

I don't know if Will Boden had the original idea to use a bracelet as a reminder, but it was so very good that it's taken off like wildfire!

I decided to give it a try. Here's the premise: Try to not complain for 21 days in a row. Put the bracelet or rubberband on one wrist. If you complain, put it on the other wrist, and you're back to Day One (and Will Boden shares there's no shame in being on Day One).

Here's what happened when I started...

At first, I accidentally complained, and then regretted it.
Then, I found out that once I broke the complaining rule, I'd complain a bunch all at one time.
Next, I learned how to complain without "complaining." It went like this... I'd say, "Here's a fact..." or "I noticed something today..." or even "so-and-so said this today..." and then I would say something that sounded like a complaint to me.

It was time to step up my game.

Here are the rules I'm currently living by:
  1. No complaints / gripes / "facts" that are negative.
  2. No talking about others if it's negative.
  3. If I have a solution to a complaint, I will bring the solution to someone who can help implement it.
  4. One-on-one with my husband, I allow myself to complain a bit (although my complaints have definitely decreased). He says I'm not complaining; I'm simply sharing about my day. Of course, he loves me, so he can say that. ;)
That's it.

Nope. Actually, here's the reason for one more of my "rules" for myself: I had my second migraine of the week yesterday, and as I was driving in to school, I wondered how I would answer peers and friends when they asked me, "How are you?" I was torn, because I'd want to know if they were suffering so I could help a bit or be understanding, yet I didn't want to complain. Turns out no one asked me how I was (that's unusual). I hid it well, too. Until... I was driving home with the top down (I love my car). A taxi driver next to me started a conversation (a common occurrence with a convertible), got me to laugh, and then said, "Laughter is a good therapy." He saw my pain. Either I was holding my head or grimacing or sitting there with a mad face on... I don't know. I do know he saw my pain and wanted to help. So... Rule #5 for myself is...

  • It's okay to let others know I'm not up to par when something is wrong. I'm deciding to not go into detail about what's ailing me unless it's going to be chronic or something I'll feel I might need support for in the future.

Here's how it's working for me so far:
  • I'm listening more than I'm talking.
  • I'm asking questions more than providing opinions.
  • I'm learning A LOT. I'm learning more about people than ever before. I'm learning that I don't have to share everything that pops up in my head. I'm learning that it's easier to be quiet and listen than it is to talk (and maybe put my foot in my mouth or hurt someone's feelings or...).
  • I'm noticing others' complaints more often. I'm not quite at the point where I try to turn the direction of the conversation, as I am loving this listening gig. ;)
  • I notice that with good friends, I'm fine with them complaining to me because I can simply listen and be there for them.
  • I'm sticking up a bit more for those who don't always have their voices heard. If someone is cut off during a discussion, I am able to bring the discussion back to their point.
  • I'm not caring as much what others think of me. It may be because I'm not thinking of those people I might complain about, so there's no need to think of what they think of me.
  • I'm not giving thinking space to complaints, so I'm happier than normal.
Just this week, I received an official "complaint-free world" bracelet from our district superintendent. That day, I went back to Day One. Today is Day Five, and it's the first time I'm counting. I don't really want to keep track. I used to be a numbers girl when I ran - dates, times, distances, miles per min, etc. - and I've even stopped keeping track of mileage on my bikes.  I don't need to know what number I am on during a streak. [Streaks kick me in the butt and stress me out. I learned that when my Duolingo streak was reset somehow. Sadly (due to pride?) I'm still keeping track of that one on my own.]  I simply want to stop complaining. I simply want to stay away from gossip. I don't need a streak to tell me that I'm doing well. I'll mess up again and again, and yet it counts that I'm focusing on this every day. I want steering away from complaints and gossip to become a habit. It requires conditioning, just like with the other words I suggested we consider in Word Shift.

It's the implementation that counts.

What my lips say, my mind thinks.

I'm training my mind to think differently.

It's a process I'm enjoying quite a bit.
Thanks, Dr. Bein, for the fabulous bracelet!

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