I’ve made a momentous life decision: I’m not going to complain anymore.

I know, I know. This is HUGE. Like most people, I’m sort of a fun, recreational complainer much of the time. It’s not unlike me to notice all the ways that things could be so much better, and then–in the most fun-loving, helpful way possible, of course–to point out to everyone around the ways in which things are not so much working out the way I’d like them to.

But that was the past. I’ve now stopped all this, thanks to my stiff shoulder.

It all happened the other day. You see, my left shoulder has been hurting for, like, months. It hurt to reach for objects high up on shelves. It hurt to fling my purse into the back seat of my car before I drive away. It killed me to yank my laptop bag up over my shoulder. And then it finally got to where it hurt just pulling a sweater either on or off over my head, or turning over in bed in the middle of the night.

I dedicated much of my day to figuring out how to make my shoulder better. I read all the shoulder sites on the web. Did I perhaps have the dreaded “torn rotator cuff”? And if so, would I have to learn just what a rotator cuff IS, anyway? Would ice be better for it than heat? Should I walk around with a heating pad–or those awful freezer packs? Should I do special exercises? Buy a new mattress? Get a special sling? Should I baby the thing, practice good posture even more?

In addition to my worry/complaining time, which was infinite, I devoted one hour each morning to doing special shoulder exercises: shrugging and rolling and tilting and windmilling. I stood flat against the wall, with my arms outstretched and my back flat for long minutes at a time, while the dog–you could just see it in his eyes–worried that I’d lost my mind. I lay on the floor with my legs on draped over a chair seat, perfectly still for fifteen minutes per side, staring at the stains on the ceiling and asking myself the hard questions: When is lying on the cold slab floor going to start feeling like a good thing to do? Why is it approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit on the floor when it’s at least 65 degrees everywhere else? And, the big one: How did those scratch marks come to be on the ceiling? Was someone trying to claw their way out through the attic?

The thing was, I was doing all these helpful remedies, and yet my shoulder hurt worse and worse every day, and I thought about it more and more. And the more I thought about it, the more I worried about it, and the more it hurt.

A long time ago, I was working on a story for Woman’s Day magazine, about how to counteract stress (let’s face it–every magazine’s favorite story), and I interviewed a guy named Gay Hendricks, who runs the Hendricks Institute in Ojai, California. He said one of the best ways he knew of to combat stress was to simply stop complaining. He said that our complaints create the very things we don’t like.

It sounds crazy, but I decided to give it a try. I’ve stopped lying on the floor for a half hour first thing every morning. I’ve stopped windmilling and shrugging and rolling in the regimented way the exercise program required. Whenever I’ve been typing for a while and my shoulder goes “eh” when it used to go EHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!, I just remind it that it’s really okay, that it knows how to heal itself. I get up from typing and do some stretches if I feel like it, and stop when I’m sick of stretching or when I know what the next sentence is that I need to type.

And it’s been…fine. Like really good!

So I’ve decided to stop complaining about a lot of other things, too: the cost of the oil bill, the coldness of the winter, the lack of time to do all the things I want to, the dog hair on my clothes.

I like the way Hendricks put it. It seems as good a promise as any. “If you stop complaining,” he said, “you’ll soon find that you don’t have anything to complain about.”