“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” — Theodore Roosevelt
Research shows that habitual complaining affects us mentally, emotionally, and physically. Complaints are negative by nature and expressing that negativity generally does not make us feel better. It also tends to make those listening to us feel worse. Complaining may cause or worsen stress, sapping our energy and our desire to pursue our dreams.
Repeated complaining can actually rewire the synapses in ours brain to make future complaining more likely. It can also shrink the brain’s hippocampus — an area that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. And when we complain, our bodies releases the stress hormone cortisol which shift us into fight-or-flight mode, directing our bodies’ resources away from everything but the systems that are essential to immediate survival.
So, complaining strains us physically and leads to decreased happiness. What can we do about it? Of course, totally avoiding complaining is not an easy task for most of us. Like most self-improvement plans, it is hard to make big changes all at once. It takes practice and commitment, but I assure you that the end result will be worth the effort!
Let’s start small…Identify when you are most likely to engage in complaining. Is it coffee with a coworker, dinner with your spouse, cocktails with friends, (or maybe all three!)? Purposefully disengage from complaining during that time. Next pick one day of the week that will be completely complaint free. Once you have successfully managed one entire complaint-free day, add another, and eventually another. I think you see where I am going with this.
And please, let me know the changes you see as you conquer complaining.
This blog is one in a series discussing the importance of gratitude in our personal and professional lives, the benefits of routinely recognizing the good things in our lives, appreciating others who have helped us, practicing gratitude, saying thank you, and taking a gratitude walk.