Do you have a friend who always complains? Every time you see that friend, he tells you about how things are going badly at work, or he complains about his marriage, or he tells you all about the problems he had at the post office or at the store and on and on. How do you feel when you see that friend? You probably feel drained of your energy and in a worse mood than you were before you saw your friend. Now consider your own habits: Are you that friend?
The Effects of Complaining
When you complain, you not only do create more negativity for those around you, but you also reinforce negative thought patterns for yourself. Negativity breeds negativity. Complaining makes it harder to focus on the positive in your life.
For example, a study of middle-school girls by the University of Minnesota found that “When girls co-ruminate, they’re spending such a high percentage of their time dwelling on problems and concerns that it probably makes them feel sad and more hopeless about the problems because those problems are in the forefront of their minds.”
Research from The Mayo Clinic also finds that positive thinking can contribute to:
- Increased life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower levels of stress
- Greater resistance to the common cold
- Better psychological and physical well-being
- Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
- Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Finding ways to limit or stop complaining can help foster a more positive outlook, which has many other healthful benefits for your life.
How to Stop Complaining and increase happiness in life?
Not complaining isn’t as easy as deciding that you won’t complain any more. Like any other habit, complaining can become such an ingrained part of your routine that you don’t realize how much you rely on it. For serious, habitual complainers, it may be hard to carry on a conversation without complaining.
However, there are a few things that you can do to be more mindful of your thoughts and to limit complaints:
- Keep track of your complaints. Write them in a journal or create some visual reminder, such as a bracelet that you move each time you complain. This will help make you aware of how big your problem is.
- Limit contact with others who complain. If you’re dieting, you wouldn’t go to a buffet. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you wouldn’t go to a smoky bar. Don’t surround yourself with complainers or you will be too tempted to join them in their complaints.
- Get support. Let your friends and family know of your desire to stop complaining. They can help provide support and let you know when you are veering off track.
- Replace the negative with the positive. Either choose to think or say a positive thought to balance the complaint you just had, or decide to keep a daily gratitude journal of all the things you are thankful for in your life. You will start to retrain your thoughts to be more positive, and you will cultivate an appreciation for the things in your life that make you happy.
- Turn complaints into solutions. If you are complaining, it means you’re unhappy about the situation. Decide to think of an action or solution the next time you catch yourself complaining about a situation.
It will be difficult to break the habit of complaining, but over time, you will become more accustomed to more positive thinking and it will be easier to let go of complaints. In the process, you will find that you will become a happier person and will experience less stress.
Bio: Alexis Bonari is a freelance writer and researcher for College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching republican scholarships as well as respiratory therapy scholarships. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.