You might be surprised to hear, that in a normal conversation, most people complain once every minute. Why do we do that? Again it might surprise you to hear that it actually makes us feel good but despite that we usually don’t even realise we are doing it. So what’s going on? Well the brain likes to keep repeating the same behaviours because each time we repeat a behaviour the neurons in the brain reach out to each other in a similar way, creating a pathway. If you go for a walk in a forest, it’s much easier to follow a path than forge your way through the undergrowth right? Neuron pathways in the brain are much the same. The brain prefers to take an existing path rather than start a new one. That’s why it’s so difficult for us to change our behaviours.
However, I digress. Let’s get back to complaining – the more we complain, the more likely we are to complain even more – complaining becomes our default behaviour which leads to a pretty negative & miserable life. It is said that we attract what we put out into the Universe so if complaining puts out negative vibes, guess what we get back? You got it – negative events. That’s not all, complaining can actually damage the hippocampus. That’s the part of the brain that helps us solve problems, it's also the centre of emotions & memories. But wait, there’s more – complaining releases cortisol, the stress hormone. I talked about stress & cortisol & all its negative effects on our health in a previous blog. Check it out HERE.
Even worse, complaining is like chicken pox – it’s contagious. So you can pass the disease on to other or even if you are not complaining yourself, hanging out with a bunch of complainers can cause you to start complaining too.
So what is the prescription for this nasty virus?
Firstly, distance yourself from complainers & generally negative people. Obviously that’s not always possible so keep turning the conversation around to something positive until they get the message.
One of the best medicines for the complaining virus is gratitude. Practicing gratitude is scientifically proven to decrease cortisol levels by around 23%, resulting in better mood, more energy & less anxiety, to mention just a few benefits. Thoughts of gratitude are positive thoughts. What we think becomes our reality so obviously positive thoughts translate to a positive life. When we make an effort to focus on the things we are grateful for we notice many of the small things in life that we may have previously taken for granted. There are many benefits to practicing gratitude including:
Improved resilience – better able to cope with trauma situations
How can you get this anti-complaining medication?
There are so many ways you can practice gratitude but one of the simplest is to write down 3 things you are grateful for every night before going to sleep. They don’t have to be huge. Look for the small, simple things such as the birds singing in your garden, the rain that watered the garden for you, the green traffic lights on your journey home or your dog that greeted you with love when you came home. The more you do this, the easier it becomes to notice those small things.
If you want to know more about the benefits of gratitude & other ways to practice it in your daily life, you might like to register for my Self-Care 101 Online Challenge that is starting on Friday 21st January 2017. Gratitude is one of the topics included. To find out more & register for this 8 week programme take this link.
Pam Bailey is a Feel Good Facilitator, Nutritionist, Eating Psychology Coach, Beautiful You Life Coach & Heal Your Life Workshop Facilitator.
She is a speaker & workshop leader & also provides private coaching via Skype & in person.
For more information contact Pam on 0452 464 818 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org