Do you complain like this?
"Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining."
While I admire Roosevelt's larger-than-life personality and his wide-ranging accomplishments -- from leading the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War to busting trusts to establishing a myriad of national parks -- I'd have to disagree with him on this one.
I don't think complaining about a problem without proposing a solution necessarily means you're whining. Sometimes we're confronted with unexpected challenges that we may not know how to tackle immediately. We would then need some time to weigh our options, and if that bears no fruit, we'd likely seek support from friends, family, or a counselor.
In general, we all have some sense of what we'd have to do to resolve a problem, but concrete solutions don't always come to us right away.
It's only human nature to complain about a problem. After all, we're emotional creatures; if we don't vent our frustrations, we feel as though we're going to explode.
It's after we "let it all out" that we then focus on finding ways to fix the issue. If I were to revise Teddy's quote, I would add the word "constant" at the beginning:
"Constant complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining."
You can spend weeks complaining about the fact that you've gained 20 pounds in a month, but that won't do anything to help you lose weight. Instead of complaining, you're better off channeling that energy into a vigorous workout at the gym.
Sometimes, however, we're faced with much more serious circumstances that we may not even know how to deal with at first -- we catch our partner cheating on us, we discover someone in the family is ill, we get laid off in the throes of a horrible recession, etc. I think it's completely acceptable -- and healthy, even -- for a person to complain, get angry, and cry in such scenarios.
We can't approach every situation rationally as President Roosevelt would have us believe. I understand it was a goal of his to project masculinity and confidence, but let's face it: sometimes our emotions get the best of us in trying situations, and that's okay. We have friends, family, and, if need be, counselors and psychologists, to turn to during tough times.
While complaining tends to have a negative connotation, I find that doing so actually helps me arrive at solutions for dealing with the problem. For example, if I'm venting to someone that my boss hasn't given me a raise in two years, I can usually come up with things I can tell the boss that may convince him or her to invest more money in me -- minus the screaming and expletives, of course.
In other words, complaining actually fires me up and gets the juices flowing. And I'd disagree with anyone who says it's better to merely think about something else or wish away the problem. Taking such a course of action will only serve to exacerbate the problem, making pent-up anger, sadness, and frustration fester for longer periods of time.
Do you agree or disagree with Roosevelt? Why?