Don’t Complain

“If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change your attitude.  Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou

Though this quote is really simple, I feel it’s one of the important rules of life.  I found it a few years ago and have been a much happier person since applying it to my life.  It can apply to anything from the very everyday, like my office situation, or to things as serious as a relationship or illness.

A simple example is my office situation at work.  Yes, I’ve been waiting to write about this for awhile because I usually wait until any bitterness or angriness about a situation has passed so I don’t write in a bitching or whining tone but I think I’ve resolved at least one part of this equation that is bothering me.

When I moved to my new group for a temporary assignment a couple years ago that I was really excited about, they told me that the floor was packed and that I would not get a window office.  I’m sure lots of you work in windowless spaces but at the office I’m in, 98% of the other scientists at my seniority have a window office, so it’s something I had an expectation for.  It just wasn’t possible, so I sucked it up and went it to my office and put my head down.

The temporary assignment turned in to a permanent one and the window offices still weren’t available to me.  I would leave work every day with my eyes burning from the fluorescence, feeling upset and angry and in pain.  It was pain of both a pride sting and physical pain from sitting in that horrible little office.  I used to feel inspired to write poetry every morning when I watched the sun rise out my window.  I’m a big fan of watching weather.  Annoying noises around me seemed to be amplified because I didn’t have visual stimulation.  I was constantly complaining about my situation.  One day I went and asked my boss one final time if the offices weren’t really going to be available to me.  It became clear that there was nothing they could do.  It wasn’t from my lack of trying, I assure you.

Once I realized my office was not going to be moved, I realized I need to change something so that I wouldn’t leave work feeling so physically poor and emotionally down, full of complaints.

I went out and bought two lamps along with a sunshine simulator lamp for people that have SAD and turned off the overhead fluorescent lights for good.  I brought in a favorite piece of artwork that Chief had never really liked anyway.  I got three plants and an aromatherapy diffuser.  I brought in a glowing salt crystal lamp and completely cleaned up and tidied my office.  All of a sudden, the space was transformed and all my colleagues were stopping by to take pictures and video and to just stop and sit in my office and take it all in.  They said they wanted to make it the clubhouse of the floor.

So I still pine for a window office again – it sounds like one will become available right as my maternity leave starts as luck would have it, but I did something about my situation and am much happier and actually look forward to being in my space.

This can apply to so many situations.  Complaining is exhausting for yourself and the people around you.  Change your situation if it makes you complain.  If it truly can’t be changed, change your attitude and make peace with it.  This could apply to anything from relationships to living situations to goals to economic situations to family situations.


  1. Megan February 8, 2014 at 3:59 am · Reply

    Thanks Emily I needed some inspiration today and I think I just got it xx

    • Emily February 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm · Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Megan – it made me realize I needed a reminder to practice what I had preached here today too! 🙂 It’s been a week during which I found it really easy to complain if I let myself…

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