Home > General > Why do we complain?

Why do we complain?

This is the text of the speech that I delivered as part of my Advanced Project 1 from the Humorously speaking manual (Toastmasters) at my club yesterday

In a village there lived a wise minister who solved the problems of the people.  Every day the people would come to him with their problems and he would tell them how to solve them.  Now he realized, that most people come to him with the same problem over and over again.
So he wanted to make them understand.
One day he told them a joke .  The people roared in laughter
The next day he told them the same joke and only a few of them smiled
When he told the joke for the third time no one laughed anymore.

The wise man smiled and said: You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over.  So why do you always complain about the same problem!


Distinguished guests and fellow toastmasters,
Why do we complain?   There are three reasons –

1)      It is human nature to complain:

I have yet to hear of a baby who comes into this world laughing.  From the time we come out of the womb all the way to the tomb it is a story of constant whining.
  When a child screams you can put a pacifier in it s mouth but when an adult complains what do you do?

Take  a teenager on a date – he complains because he wants the perfect girl – must be 36 – 24 – 36, long hair, fair, not too tall – not too short  — to him it is like ordering a pizza  – thin crust, extra cheese, Hawaiian.

For married men or women complaining is a daily chore.. As soon as you wake up in the morning you say the water is too cold or there is no more toothpaste. At lunchtime the husband complains  to his  wife –“. It’s the same old food”.

The wife complains that the m-in-law gives her too much housework

The father complains to the  child: “Why don’t  you do your homework without watching TV all day”,   And the child complains that with the load of homework every day – he will turn into a zombie someday.

The employee complains to the boss:

“Sir – the work is too much – I desperately need a raise”

To which the Boss will reply–“ the company is running a loss because of people like you – go and do your job before I fire you

If it rains, we complain of too  much water, flooding   If its hot and sunny we complain its stuffy and sweaty

2)      Too many choices

. Picture this scenario –  If we were told when young… there is only roti prata at home and you must have it.  There is no choice and if you are hungry you will eat it.

But Singapore is a foodies paradise – you want plain prata, murtabak, or icecream prata – you want Adam road nasi lemak or katong laksa, chicken rice or  mee goreng.     Now that is a problem.. so we complain!  What to eat!

3)      We want only the best – or the Kiasu syndrome

Take P1 admissions – To get their children into the best  school  parents buy a home near the school and do volunteering jobs in the school and they still compare with other children and complain.

Singapore is shielded from floods,  tsunamis,  hurricanes and  earthquakes. So when there is a small disturbance like a haze we get over reactive and  run to the pharmacy to get the best mask.

If they build a workers dormitory near your home –complain.  If your maid takes an extra day off complain  and if the rubbish dump is close to your home complain.

Take public transport – we complain that we are stacked like sardines.. and some even complain they have to sit near poor people .

We are blessed with good health, friends, family, and we can have 3 meals a day. We can enjoy a movie, sip a coffee at Starbucks and occasionally go on a getaway to a neighbouring country.  So why are we still complaining?

Abraham Lincoln  said – “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

© copyright, skm, 29th Jan, 2014


  1. January 29, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    One of the best pieces I have read!!!

  2. February 1, 2014 at 1:20 am
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