In order to grasp more success in life, it is essential to be more tolerant of the conflicting beliefs and behaviors of others while being less tolerant of your own conflicting beliefs and behaviors.  

The other day I was walking through the grocery store, now usually people walking through the store are relatively quiet, but not this time. I found myself able to hear many of people’s thoughts spoken aloud. After walking around for a while, I began to notice a trend, almost every single one of these people were complaining. Whether it be about the weight they have gained recently, refusing to watch football, financial struggles, mask/no mask, the list goes on. Then it hit me, all of these complaints had one thing in common, they could all be controlled by the people doing the complaining. I am reminded of a quote from Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker: “The culture of an organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate”

Remember, all complaining does is waste both your time and mine.  

If you can agree the that culture of an organization can be defined by what it tolerates, then you should also be able to understand that your personal life will be shaped by the irritating things you tolerate too. While my use of the word “tolerance” might seem contrary to how it is often used today, my goal is to challenge you to consider how the concept of tolerance applies to your personal life. In order to accomplish this, I have to make sure you are clear on what tolerance means. Here is a working definition I’ve put together to help myself understand it a little better: 

Long version: Your tolerance is your willingness to “deal” with something that you do not necessarily like or agree with. The more superior your tolerance, the larger your capacity and extensive your ability to endure continued subjection to that something without a reaction to change that something.

Short version:  You put up with things that you don’t enjoy for a long time and do nothing about it.

Did you notice what is missing from both versions? Neither of these ends with, “then spend a lot of time complaining about it.” You see, “tolerance” is permitting the thing that upsets you, allowing it without any intervention. To quote Tom Hanks from the movie, A League of Their Own, “There is no complaining in tolerance!”

Ask yourself, is there an area of your life you don’t like, yet you can control whether it exists or not?  If your answer is “yes,” instead of doing something to change it do you just complain about it? Hopefully you can see how crazy complaining sounds, because allowing an upsetting situation to continue and then “complain” instead of figuring out how to change the situation sounds crazy to me too. After reading this, you will no longer be able to “turn a blind eye” on the real source of why you complain. And as a result of deciding what you will and won’t tolerate, your complaining should actually stop. Period. Forever.

Barring lactose and gluten, a little intolerance can sometimes be a good thing.  

When it concerns movements like anti-discrimination, there is a call today for people to be more “tolerant.” When regarding the beliefs and backgrounds of other people, I agree. However, there are other movements that justly ask you to practice intolerance also. Anti-bullying, anti-drug and anti-harassment are a few excellent examples. In addition to those, in terms of beliefs and behaviors that are holding you back, I think you should develop your own “zero tolerance” policy. To motivate you thinking in that direction, here are five areas in which I would suggest practicing a little intolerance:

Five Areas to Practice Personal Intolerance

1.  Unworthy Energy

Don’t allow a mediocre or bad use of your energy.

2.  Unhealthy Lifestyle

Don’t live with a poor diet, sleep patterns or a sedentary lifestyle.

3.  Unfulfilling Work

Don’t designate years to tick off on something you don’t love to do.

4.  Unhappy Relationships

Don’t endure poor choices of associates or treatment from others.

5.  Unsatisfactory Finances

Don’t accept low pay or escalating debt. Know your worth.

In order to “level up,” you may need to turn your tolerance level down.

Becoming intolerant of the list above, you would be removing both the “un” from the front of the words and also some poor behaviors and beliefs from your life. So, in order to stop complaining and live the life you desire, you have a simple choice: TOLERATE or REMOVE. Not happy or fulfilled with some things in your life right now? You can either keep putting up with it or do something about it. Below is a list of things you can either continue to endure or remove. In the case of tolerance, just keep doing what you are doing. In the case of removal, you will need to discover the root of the problem and remove it:


Your Health

Will you tolerate or remove a bad diet?  

Will you tolerate or remove being overweight?

Will you tolerate or remove being tired all the time?

Your Relationships

Will you tolerate or remove people you don’t want to be around?

Will you tolerate or remove negative conversations?

Will you tolerate or remove abusive remarks or treatment?

Your Career

Will you tolerate or remove a job that doesn’t inspire you?

Will you tolerate or remove lower pay than you deserve?

Will you tolerate or remove long hours or a longer commute?

Your Finances

Will you tolerate or remove wasting money?

Will you tolerate or remove increasing debt?

Will you tolerate or remove zero savings?

Either remove or tolerate. Your choice. But either way the complaining should stop.

It is important to know that the thing you don’t want to tolerate is not there to annoy you, it is there to make you better. It is a sign that something needs to change. You need to be inspired by your own intolerance for the situation and do something about it. Find the source of the issue and you can either tolerate or remove. If you choose the former you will complain. If you choose the latter, you will be forced to change.

Successful people are less tolerant…of lower level thinking, habits and relationships.

Practicing tolerance with others can be a good thing. Simply don’t practice tolerance with yourself. If you feel like you have a lack of health, time, wealth or energy. Remember, it’s your life, be in charge. You are the one in charge of what you tolerate and pride yourself on that intolerance. Stand up to the issues you face and stand up for yourself. In the midst of whatever it is that is bothering you to the point of complaints say, “I’m not going to take it anymore!” 

I’ve become reminded of one of my favorite quotes from George Bernard Shaw’s Man and Superman:

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

What do you complain most about?

What can you do about it?

Your life is exactly where it is supposed to be because of what you tolerate. Either recognize that your situation is your fault and stop complaining or do something about it to remove the irritating stimulus. Either way, you will be clear and in more control. Stop tolerating your old ways holding you back. Pass the torch, not the complaints.

Tolerate or remove. It’s all up to you.