We’ve all heard of the gratitude journal, studies have shown that by giving thanks, you benefit in terms of improving your relationships, improving your physical and psychological health, that it enhances empathy and reduces aggression, you get to sleep better, it improves your self esteem and increases your mental strength.
Aside from giving gratitude, we also need to need to scale back on pointless complaining. I encourage you to do a 12-days-of-no-complaining challenge with me. We need to watch our language and attitude for the next 12 days and catch ourselves when start to go on a roll.
- Berating the call center agent on the other line just because.
Over the years, I’ve called call centers for complaints about the cable, the internet service, warranties, and the like. There are instances in the middle of my rant that I catch myself, take a breath and apologize to the other person on line, but I had already given the person so much negativity that no amount of apologizing can ever clear air.
About 2 years ago, I tried on a different tack. Instead of complaining, I listen first and treat the person on the other line as a person. A person with a name, a job to do, and who is probably also having a bad day. This is a more effective way to get your point across, and makes people happy to assist you.
- Letting off steam by complaining doesn’t actually work. It only fuels the fire of negativity.
People sometimes use complaining about co-workers, friends, and relatives as a form of bonding experience. However, this wires our brains for negativity.
Repeated complaining rewires your brain to make future complaining more likely. Over time, you find it’s easier to be negative than to be positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Complaining becomes your default behavior, which changes how people perceive you.
And here’s the kicker: complaining damages other areas of your brain as well. Research from Stanford University has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus — an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. Damage to the hippocampus is scary, especially when you consider that it’s one of the primary brain areas destroyed by Alzheimer’s.
So what should we don instead of complaining?
- Be grateful.
- Look at things not only from your perspective but see things through the eyes of others.
- Propose solutions by working together.
- If #3 is not an option, remove yourself from the situation.
- If #3 and #4 are not options, learn to accept the situation and adjust your attitude.
Are you ready for the 12 day gratitude and no complaining challenge? Let’s go!