By Celine Tan
It’s been a rough day. You slept at way past midnight, almost missed the bus, were yelled at for taking the elevator, classes were boring, people were bothersome, the air was humid, and not to mention you failed your math test – one you spent all night poring over.
At times like this, how is it possible not to complain?
I’ve noticed that I complain a lot. My friends complain a lot. My parents complain a lot. I’m complaining about those who complain even as I write – it’s unavoidable! Thus posing the question: are we complaining too much?
Nowadays, enduring any form of suffering has become almost unbearable. What is the temporary solution to this resentful feeling? We complain.
When we indulge in this, we release our emotions and begin to feel better….in the short term.
Although this form of communication allows us to ‘expel’ any negativity, it fails to solve the issue; it might even worsen the situation. Becoming addicted to complaining develops a pessimistic viewpoint. Psychological Today states, “a chronic complainer falls into a perpetual cycle of finding fault… then being unable to face the next situation with an open mind”. This deprives you of the pleasures in life and limits the capacity for feeling joy. Your brain materialises barriers which obstruct your vision: moving forward in life.
Moreover, the negative aura lingering around your words will likely dishearten your loved ones as well. Surrounding people also begin to develop adverse attitudes.
Travis Bradberry, author on emotional intelligence emphasizes, “When you repeat behaviors, such as complaining, your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat [this] in the future”. Consequently, repeated complaining rewires the brain’s pathways, imposing brain damage. This makes it much easier for you to dwindle into negative states, regardless of your surroundings.
Therefore before those words of dissatisfaction flow from your mouth, remind yourself: although complaining acts almost as an anesthesia, temporarily achieving a cathartic effect, it won’t become the ‘rescue party’ to your problems.
To prevent yourself from getting lost in the perpetual cycle of complaining, cultivate a positive attitude. If there is a solution to the dilemma you’re grumbling about, solve it.
There once was a wise man whom everyone complained to about similar problems. One day he told them a joke where all of them roared in laughter. After a few minutes, he repeated the same joke, and only a couple of them smiled. When the joke was told for the third time, no one laughed anymore. The wise man then said: “You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over… why are you always crying about the same problem?”
As Joanna Wolfe, professor at Carnegie Mellon University says, “Don’t sit around and admire the problem.” Make a change.
Altering your mindset also goes a long way to living positively. If an unfortunate situation out of your control resides in the past, focus on the present unravelling in front of you and plan your future instead. Don’t dwell on past incidents. Don’t dwell on mistakes, because criticizing only leads to complaining. Accept the consequences – move on! Instead of noticing the negatives, search for positive aspects. You need to learn how to adapt to the obstacles that may arise without vocalising them – understand you can learn from the struggles they pose. Change will inevitably come.
Simply put, think of the glass as half full instead of half empty.
Yes, it’s been quite the rough day. However, rather than complaining, you reflect upon the happenings of the day and understand that some situations are out of your control. That math test you claimed you failed – at least you tried. Your hardwork will pay off one day. People were bothersome, but what about that friend who offered to buy you cookies during lunch?
If you can live your life devoid of complaints, you’re living your life to the fullest.
- Bradberry, Travis. “How Complaining Rewires Your Brain for Negativity.” The Globe and Mail, ENTREPRENEUR.COM, 24 Nov. 2016, www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/small-business/sb-growth/how-complaining-rewires-your-brain-for-negativity/article31893948/.
- Ceneri , Vetta. “NBC News .” NBC News , Getty Images www.nbcnews.com/better/business/art-complaining-constructively-ncna764096.
- Eion, Katherine. “Effectively Stop Complaining in 7 Easy Steps.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 20 Feb. 2014, www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/7-effective-ways-stop-complaining.html.
- Juliano, Lisa. “No One Likes a Complainer. Here’s Why.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2 Aug. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemporary-psychoanalysis-in-action/201508/no-one-likes-complainer-heres-why.
- “Short Moral Story About Complaining.” Inspirational Stories, www.inspirationalstories.eu/short-moral-story-about-complaining/.