The Secret to No Complaining Is …

happiness perspective life

I think fads are the funniest things.

Words have mattered since Adam and Eve talked with the snake, yet there’s a movement today focused on choosing a “word for the year.” The goal is to live that word, letting it inspire and guide you.

If you’ve done this and it’s helping you live life better, I say, Yea for you!

Most of the members of the Miller family who still live in this home (we’re down to 4 from 9), chose a fav word on January 1st. 

My wife, Karen, chose “intentional.” The 17-year-old selected “focus”—an excellent choice since she just got her driver’s license. The 16-year-old picked “willingness.”

Good for them. Yesirre, good for them …

Oh, me? What word did I choose?

Um, actually, I tend not to engage in things like this. I didn’t dump water on my head last summer either. Sorry. I guess I’m a classic “killjoy.” Call me John Stick-In-The-Mud Miller.

I know what you’re thinking anyway. If you’re a fan of the QBQ! book, you think the only word I could possibly choose is what QBQ! is all about:



Without a nanosecond of hesitation, I would select the word I’ve blogged about here and here (grab your Kleenex for that last one). It’s the word I cannot escape from in every area of my life:


My definition: Someone, somewhere is always “worse off” than I am or it could be worse for me.

Embrace that idea and a “no complaining,” or at least a less complaining lifestyle, is within one’s grasp. Why? Because PERSPECTIVE is the cure for complaining.

Let me share several POPs—“Point of Perspective”—from my life. The first thought in RED is when I’ve lost my PERSPECTIVE.  It’s what we all call complaining. The second thought, the one in italicized BLACK, is how/when I find PERSPECTIVE. Here we go!

Complaint: I am coming off 10 days of the flu. Ten long, painful days!

Perspective: One of my favorite client’s spouse is dying of cancer.

Complaint: The Miller marriage of 34 years just isn’t perfect! (Karen would not deny this.)

Perspective: A client last week mentioned her divorce, adding, “But, hey, we made it 28 years.” I felt her sadness.

Complaint: When the grandchildren visit, my morning quiet times are toast!

Perspective: We almost lost one of these precious babies at birth. (Again, the Kleenex piece here)

Complaint: I cannot believe I didn’t get hired to speak at that March event!

Perspective: People who do real work (not writing/speaking) are unemployed.

Complaint: Our stupid Denver Broncos couldn’t beat … the Colts!?!

Perspective: A Denver woman died in her car this morning when a pick-up ran a red light.

Complaint: It’s frustrating that we will never sell as many copies of QBQ! as “the Cheese book”!

Perspective: The truth is, 95% of all titles don’t sell 10,000 copies and we’ve sold 1.2 million. #Thankful

PERSPECTIVE. Yep, that’s my word. But not for 2015.

For life.

Because, again: Someone, somewhere is always worse off than I am or it could be worse for me. I cannot escape the power of that truth.

Let that truth inspire and guide you and watch complaining disappear and happiness grow!

Care to share a “POP” or two? Comment below by mentioning a Point of Perspective of your own!

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56 Responses

  1. Perspective is a great word and your examples are striking and thought provoking.

    I like the word ‘Choices’ – for a whole lot of reasons…and I will be the first to admit that I don’t always live up to my own choice of words (pun intended).

    John points out that it is our choice to complain or consider perspective..and perspective is tougher to get used to because it is often times about someone or something else…rather than self. And that’s the great part about choices.

    We’ve all heard the story about the pessimistic choice to consider the glass half-empty of water and the opportunistic choice to consider the glass half-full or water…all the while the realistic choice was to drink the water and move forward while the others contemplated their choices.

    Likewise, my choices may not fit for someone else…and vice-versa. It has always amazed me how some people can (and do) view situations, opinions, actions, reactions or opinions based solely on their personal beliefs. While this may not be bad or wrong – it may not be correct for someone else..and far be it from me to always assume my view, opinion, action or reaction would be correct for anyone else.

    When I master me with accountability, my choices and my acceptance of others and their choices, then I will be getting somewhere. Until then, its more journey than destiny.

  2. Hi John,
    your blogs and comments on Perspective are right on and another way to remind each of us to be grateful for what we have while living in the greatest country in the world. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. As I raised my daughters and saw all the gifts they received from relatives, two sets of parents. grand parents, aunts, uncles etc., (as a result of my divorce). I often did not give them any materialistic gifts on my own in an attempt to avoid spoiling them.

      When they wanted that 100th Beanie Baby, I offered them perspective. I made up a story about a poor girl who only had 1 Beanie Baby and it wasn’t in very good condition, but that’s all she had… You could see them stop and think for a bit. And ask many questions about this “girl”.

  3. Wow perspective is a good word it really hit me yesterday handing in my taxes to the local book keeper.

    The receptionist asked if I would be receiving Earned Income Tax Credit this year and the accountant who was near by said no she makes to much money.

    I think it is natural to always think we do not make enough money but I remember the days when I did receive Earned Income Tax Credit because I did not make very much money at my job.

    It gave me perspective that yes life has gotten better, I have a good job and I am a lot better off then then most people.

  4. Hooray for the Miller family!
    I encourage my clients to select at least one word for the year to keep focused on.
    Perspective…good word to choose…congratulations!
    Last year I choose two words: Intentional (hooray for your wife) and Transformation…keeping them for this year as well and here is my reasoning behind keeping them another year…there will never be any Transformation unless I am Intentional.
    Thanks for the confirmation…always great to know that something that I do personally and encourage others to consider doing is being done by one that I respect.
    Blessings for the New Year!

  5. I had to add what you said, John, to my list of favorite quotes. Thank you for reminding us to count our blessings.

    “Perspective is the cure for complaining.”
    – John G. Miller, author of QBQ

  6. Hi, John. Your thoughts on Perspective are so true. We all really need to sit down and take some time and think about it, life can be a real challenge. Is the grass always greener on the other side? Enjoy life, do your best and appreciate each and every day.

  7. Hi all,

    Great comments – as always!

    Perspective: I often recount a story captured by Stephen Covey in his “7 Habits” book when I talk to friends about perspective (pp30-1) for anyone that’s interested. It is the way it is and it takes a special skill to understand that a) there could be another view (or several views) and b) to appreciate what it is/they are.

    Something I try to encourage my 8 year old to think about. How her ACTIONS have CONSEQUENCES and how her CHOICES impact on others. I think she’s getting the point. At least, she’s telling me to stop telling her which usually means it’s sunk in. ;o)

    Keep up the great work!

  8. Thank you. I’ve found myself the captain of the boat in a sea of negativity lately. I’m not getting the promotion I feel I deserve, the raise I want, people around me aren’t doing their jobs right, blah blah blah. I needed your message today. The list of things I do have is so much longer than the list of things that bother me at the moment. I appreciate the reminder, John.

  9. John, my word for 2015 is kindness. If we walk as Christ did in kindness on our jobs, in our homes and most of all in public! The world and our children’s future would be better.

  10. Yesterday as I waited for the crossing light on my walk home from the bus stop, I was complaining to myself about having to walk in the cold wet weather. Then I looked up and saw on the other side of the street a man blowing into the tube attached to his wheel chair smiling as he crossed the street in my direction. Now that is perspective.

  11. My point of perspective came on 9/11/2001. I was on vacation on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. After getting through breakfast and the initial processing of the events that day, we went to the Hoh Rain Forest.
    The trees are huge. When the trees die they fall over and new saplings grow from the dead tree. I got the message that although things seemed to be intense, that life will go on. Very comforting.

  12. I love your word – perspective. I have long believed in the idea that no matter my situation someone, somewhere has it worse than I do, it’s what helps me get through some of the challenges I have faced. My husband and I have both been tried lately with this word. His father passed away 8 months ago after a long and courageous battle with cancer. For many years before his passing my my mother-in-law has also suffered with dementia. Even through the worst of his illness he still took care of her and tried to minimize to the outside world how much she suffered; and would accept no help from the family. Now that he has passed we (the children) realize she cannot live on her own and she doesn’t want to leave her home and to be truthful, she is really not ready for an assisted living or nursing home. For many months two of the adult children took turns staying with her each night, but that was not a long term solution. My husband and I are in the best position to be able to move in with her; we live close, we have a long standing and solid relationship and are empty nesters. We moved in just over a month ago. It hasn’t been all wine and roses, but it is working. It is a challenge each day, but overall she is more content and less agitated and it brings me joy to see her feel valued and a contributor to our new blended life when she can help me do things – things that she is capable of if she has someone to provide guidance and support. I am honored that we can allow her to live her life to fullest for the longest time possible, because we never know how much more time there is.

  13. POP – Complaint: since my husband (now 67) retired 5 years ago, I never get any time to myself.
    Perspective: My dad died of cancer in 1992 at 64 years young. My mom (and I) would give anything to have just one more day with him.

  14. I was fortunate to command a flying squadron during my Air Force career. Near the office door was a three word reminder . They were Perspective, Priorities, Perseverance. The sequence provided focus. Something astray usually could be attributed to one of the words. It simplified feedback and helped get us back on course. The words align with my faith journey where they remain a good guide.

    Thanks for your books and blog.

  15. Love this blog… Life is all about perspective! Living in Indiana isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (even though the Colts did beat the Broncos!). Last winter was terrible. We had close to record breaking snows and I was so over getting bundled up several times during each snow storm so I would be able to get my snow blower through the snow! Then the overwhelming feeling of being so thankful I was healthy and was able to take care of the snow — the perspective that got me through the winter! God has blessed me in many ways, and I believe we miss many of the blessings when our perspective isn’t right.
    Thanks for your message today! As always, I look forward to reading what you have to say!

  16. After changing careers in my late 30s to work in human resources for a manufacturer in Oklahoma City, I often worked long hours and even some weekends. I usually left tired and sometimes frustrated.

    However, when I left the facility each day, to reach the interstate that would take me the 13 miles home, I had to pass two homeless shelters. By the time I reached the interstate, I was reminded how blessed I was to have a job, a comfortable home and a family around me.

    You are so correct when you talk about perspective. No matter what turns my life takes, there are still folks out there who have far worse concerns.

    I always enjoy your emails and twitters. Today’s hit close to home.

  17. John,
    This is a great blog and perspective is one of my favorite words as well. Being a productivity specialist I strive to arrive early to all my appointments, either casual or business. When I’m running late I’ll often pass the remains of an accident, someone pulled over with mechanical issues, or someone pulled over explaining themselves to the law and I say, “Perspective.”

      1. John,
        A few hours after I had shared my take on ‘perspective’ I was going to need some. My 14-year old daughter was taken to the ER because she was in DKA. We learned hours later that her pancreas had stopped working and she was now a Type 1 diabetic. The night she spent in the PICU she was really down so we decided to find out why others were in the PICU and to pray for them. I knew this would provide a much needed perspective for Kate and us. We knew that in a few days we would be walking out of the hospital with our daughter in tow, but that others may not. It was, and is helpful to this day. BTW she is doing great and is embracing her new adventure.

  18. “POP” Two plus years ago, our 21 year old daughter was kidnapped from our home, beaten and kept for over 12 hours by a former boyfriend. We only knew she was missing about 20 minutes before she called to say, “he did, he took me!” She is safely home, married, and the criminal is in jail.

    A few years ago, a young lady in our state was abducted and brutally murdered. They just recently found her body, and are just now in the process of beginning what looks like a long trial.

  19. Complaint: On a daily basis I loaded and buckled three small kids, drove to my son’s preschool, unloaded him and the twin infants, went inside to sign him in, load the twins back up, drive to their daycare and then unload them again, sign them in and get them unbuckled. Didn’t anyone understand how hard this was and how much my back hurt – everyday?!
    Perspective: One morning, at the same daycare, I watched a little girl stand in the parking lot in the rain and wait for her dad’s hydraulic wheelchair lift to lower to the ground so he could walk her in.

  20. some of these comments moved me to tears — looks odd on a six foot six man, but who the heck cares? John, your work today has been most humbling; thank you for what you do.

  21. John,

    Your mention in today’s newsletter of almost losing one of your grandchildren makes me think of when our twin granddaughters were born.

    One of the twins, Zara, was not breathing at birth. Her lungs were full of fluid. Isla, on the other hand, came into the world, let out one yelp, and fell asleep!!!

    Right after the birthing, I walked into the NICU where the girls were, my heart sank down to my ankles when I saw Zara under the care of a doctor who whispered, “Stay with me, little one.” My knees buckled.

    Zara and Isla are now robust 16-month old toddlers doing just great. Just twenty-five years ago, Zara might not have survived or would have have had lung damage from the suctioning of her lungs. Thank the Lord for modern technology which allowed the doctor to clear her lungs without any damage at all. The doctor said this new technology was a “game changer” for these types of cases.

    I thank God every day for how blessed I am because there are so many people who I know who have much bigger problems than I.

    When the babies woke us up in the middle of the night, it was a joy to hear those lungs at work! What if there was only one pair of lungs instead of the two?

    Thanks again for the newsletter and the work you do. You have helped MY PERSPECTIVE!!!

  22. Seven years ago our daughter Reagan was at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston awaiting a heart transplant. Whenever I would begin to have a pity party all I had to do was walk around the hospital. It didn’t take long to see people who were dealing with issues that were worse. God began to show us how important our attitude was not just for ourselves but for others as well. Reagan is healthy but continues to deal with complications brought on by her imunosuppressant medications. Throughout this journey perspective has been very important. We have had the opportunity to minister to many people both in Houston and here in our home town of San Angelo.

  23. My word for 2015 is gratefulness. I was cycling on a rails to trails here in PA (yes in January, I am hard core) listening to air-1 and they suggested a one word new years resolution. I could not get the word out of my mouth when I got home because my face was frozen.

  24. John – As always, a great topic. Thanks!
    I like perspective and intentional. The one charecteristic David of the Bible displayed was the intentional way he approached God. Despite his shortcomings he turned to the Father and made it clear he needed the Father’s hand. And on “perspective”, Paul made it clear that we should take the perspective of Jesus. For me, Phillippians 2:3 sums it up. We must consider others better than ourselves and assume Christ’s attitude of humility. Thanks for the chance to comment.

  25. While it’s easy to get discouraged about our own trials and struggles, one thing we dont always realize is that those challenges we face and overcome WILL help someone else. I’ve lost 4 dogs in the past 5 years – 2 due to old age and the other 2 were unexpected deaths. Either way is never easy, but one thing it has helped me do is be of comfort to those facing or dealing with the same loss. God puts us through these trials for that very reason.

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