The Culture of Complaining: Propose a Solution or Keep your Mouth Shut
In this day and age people love to complain. There are even websites dedicated to providing a digital soapbox where one can express their disgust towards the newest local restaurant. Complaining has replaced standing up for one’s belief system: why take action when you can simply post about how upset you are?
Unfortunately what they don’t tell you about complaining is that it has a dramatic effect on happiness and quality of life. Modern neuroscience explains that thought patterns in our brain trigger synapses to create electrical bridges, thus allowing us to carry the information pertaining to our thoughts across these synapses. Synapses which fire frequently grow closer together in an effort to conserve energy, thus rewiring our brain based on the thoughts we most commonly have. If you are constantly complaining, you are literally rewiring your brain to more effectively transfer negativity.
Negative thoughts are perceived by our bodies in much the same way as negative stimuli from our environment. This means that negative thinking stresses the body, and stress on the body leads to elevated cortisol levels. Reinforcing negativity by choosing to complain is actually flooding your body with stress hormones that can lead to adverse physical effects including sickness, injury and difficulty sleeping. The body perceives all forms of stress as being equal, so constantly complaining wreaks havoc on those who already deal with physical or mental stress from their athletic pursuits or careers.
Aside from the effects of complaining on oneself, negativity is contagious and can affect those around you as well. Instead of helping to reinforce your point or spur others to listen to what you are saying, complaining can actually push those around you further away because it lowers their happiness and quality of life. This works both ways! Beware of surrounding yourself with complainers and choose instead to surround yourself with positive, motivated individuals (more on this subject in the previous post).
On the other hand, constructive criticism and critical analysis are always appropriate. It is inevitable that you will often disagree with certain situations or the opinions of others. The next time you want to complain about something, focus instead on proposing one or more solutions to the problem. Whining and stomping one’s feet is easy, providing a constructive solution requires careful thought. You can always transform a negative situation by attempting to instigate positive change.
In order to increase our happiness and satisfaction in life we must become truly aware of our thoughts and emotions. The next time you find yourself complaining, stop the train of negative thought, offer up a solution to the problem in your mind and focus on how the constructive thought process can help you and those around you spread positivity.
Start to rewire your brain for positivity instead of negativity. Reduce added sources of stress by focusing on solutions instead of problems. Improve your quality of life and the happiness of those around you. These things are all possible if you stop complaining.
Until next time.