Musings on Complaints

I will admit: I forgot to write a post this week. Maybe I was unmotivated because of the gloomy weather in Madrid, or I couldn’t think of a topic, or maybe I was just busy. Somewhere between spending the long weekend in London, being back for three days, leaving for the program excursion to Extremadura, coming home to Madrid Sunday night, and leaving again Monday morning for a week-long trip with my Spanish University class I lost track of the day. Now, I find myself at midnight sitting in in a hotel in O Grove (still) trying to think of something to write about.

I know it sounds a little bit like I’m complaining, but I’m really trying not to. I am so lucky that along with my (school-)year in Madrid I have had the opportunity to do the unbelievable things I’ve been doing in the past few weeks. Who knew I would be visiting incredible Roman ruins in the rain in Spain or drinking afternoon tea in London or spending a week in Galicia with a Universidad de Alcalá class? I certainly didn’t, and I still find it hard to believe now.

As my trip to Galicia began, so did the 21-Day No Complaint Challenge. Though I didn’t pick up a bracelet (honestly, because I wasn’t at the program center this week) some of my friends did. Like many organized activities, the challenge has become both a serious and joking matter. Between the six Americans currently traveling with our “Recursos Marinos” class we’ve teased each other about our complaints at the 7:30 am wake-up call, but we’ve also talked about what it means to complain.

Though I may not agree that complaining is healthy, I think we all can agree that venting and releasing our built-up emotions is both healthy and important. Over the past two days, we’ve all definitely complained about something (okay, maybe more than one something), and I’ve consciously made an effort to stop myself in order to rephrase my complaint into a positive, mindful, comment. In this, we can still release the feelings that accompany the complaint, but reframe them into a positive statement. After all, it’s only the beginning of the challenge, we still have 18 more days to practice, and maybe in a week or two we can jump straight to mindfulness. For now, bracelet or not, I’ll continue to say things twice, and I’ll think more deeply about what I say. And I think that’s the most important part of the challenge.

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