It turns out that being surrounded by negativity has an adverse effect on your brain and body. If you listen to complaining for more than thirty minutes, it affects your hippocampus, the part of your brain that processes memes. If you’ve ever zoned out while someone else berated you or lost track of time as they ranted, this is why Their bellyaching didn’t just give you a headache — it harmed your brain.
Continual complaining by a person will cause them stress they wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. For example, if you only focus on the negative, you won’t be able to enjoy the good things in life. And the negative events in your life will register as worse than they actually were, while you linger on them because it is your habit to do so.
What’s the solution?
The first step to more positive thinking is to stop complaining about things. It doesn’t an you are never critical. For example, tell your child to do their homework and explain the consequences if they don’t. But don’t rant about all the other things they’ve failed to do right, their prior bad grades and all the ways you’ll make their life miserable if they get a C on that test. If your spouse forgot something, remind them. But don’t turn it into a long lecture on how they never remember and all the other things they forgot. In short, say what they’re doing wrong, and then stop before it becomes complaining.
We do need to mention the next step here, and that is talking about how you’ll fix it. If someone forgot a critical deadline, ask how you can both work to prevent it happening in the future. If your child got a bad grade, instead of complaining about all their other failings, discuss what they can do to get better grades. You don’t have to have a solution then and there, but the discussion should be working toward a solution, not grousing about the past.
The next step is making these changes permanent
Tell yourself you’re not allowed to complain. When a problem comes up, admit it and move immediately to trying to solve it. That will prevent the complaints from dragging you down, while fixing problems will truly improve your life. You could wear a bracelet as a reminder to not complain, and move it to the other wrist if you make the mistake of complaining. This is incredibly useful when you find yourself sitting in a group that thinks they find comfort in complaining about their jobs, their partners or their families. It is a physical reminder to you not to join in And when you forget how long it has been since you moved the bracelet over, it has probably been the 21 days necessary to establish the healthy habit of never complaining.