We all know what it's like to be around people who complain a lot - a real downer. It's not fun to go out to dinner with them because there's always something wrong with the food and the service. And don't you cringe when one dish needs to be sent back to the kitchen?

It's not fun to go to a concert with them. The seats aren't close enough, or they're too close. The music is too modern; no, wait, it's too old-fashioned. And even though the hall is brand new, the acoustics are terrible.

It's not fun to spend an evening in your home with them because while they may be too polite to complain about you, you have a lot of mutual friends they can complain about. And how many times can you bring the conversation back to sports or the weather? They'll probably complain about both of those as well.

And it's certainly not fun to have a phone conversation with people like this. Their lives are miserable and the world is going to seed. You feel the need to pop a Prozac the minute you hang up.

It's easy to see this behavior in others. And the wise person limits contact with complainers because it can bring you down as well. And perhaps even worse, it can be contagious.

She kept a week's diary of her complaining and was surprised to see how frequently it occurred. This motivated her to try to stop.

We may not even realize that we have a tendency to kvetch ourselves - we're too busy complaining about others (like I've been doing)!

But a quick review of a morning (afternoon or evening) may reveal, God forbid, some negative patterns of our own. In a recent article in a popular women's magazine, one of the contributors kept a week's diary of her complaining and was surprised to see how frequently it occurred. This actually motivated her to try to stop.

We may be totally unaware of how often we espouse a negative viewpoint, how we spread gloom to those around us, what a destructive habit we've developed. A diary highlights it all.

Sometimes kvetching is a way of connecting with others. Sometimes it's a way of expressing frustration. Sometimes it's even fun. But it always leads to a pessimistic view of the world that ultimately damages us and those whose lives we touch.

It can range from the innocuous - the weather - to the seriously misplaced and hurtful - our spouse and children.

My husband's grandmother was blessed to live until the age of 98. One of her philosophies was never to complain about things you can't change. A cautionary tale?

Complaining isn't just a bad habit. It actually makes the problem worse.

The more you complain about the heat, the warmer you feel. And on a deeper level, the more you complain about your spouse, the greater the rift between the two of you.

Our job is to look for the positive in those we love and in the world the Almighty has created for us. Yes, there's turmoil in the Middle East, but I'm focusing on the unbelievable strength and commitment of the Jewish people, particularly the 250 who recently made aliyah.

Yes, my husband forgot to take out the garbage (again!) but I'm focusing on the fact that he's holding down the fort so I can sit at the computer right now.

And with our children our list of complaints could potentially be endless but I'm focusing on how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to raise these human beings. I'm focusing on their strengths, on the ways they bring joy to my husband and me and to each other, and not on the aggravation.

I don't want to be someone that no one wants to be around. I don't want to be someone that I don't want to be around. I want to stay tuned to the positive because (it will make me more popular!) the Almighty has given us so many gifts and it's an utter lack of gratitude to only notice what I don't have. I want to stay tuned to the positive because my day will be brighter and more joyful. I want to stay tuned to the positive because my husband and children will be happier for it.

I would also like to start keeping a journal to help me stay on track. But I have too much to do. How can I be expected to add in one more thing when ...oops.