Everybody does it to some extent or another.
No one’s immune to it, we’re human.
But we can become more intentional about stopping it…
Because it’s literally making you dumber.
In a 1996 study, Stanford University researchers found that complaining, or even just being complained to, for 30 minutes or more can physically damage your brain.
The researchers used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and found “links between long-term stressful life experiences, long-term exposure to hormones produced during stress, and shrinking of the hippocampus”. (No the hippocampus isn’t where hippos go to college. It’s actually the part of your brain responsible for the formation of new memories and it’s also associated with learning and emotions.)
In layman’s terms, complaining and being around complainers creates a damaging stress response in your body.
It’s why I’ve ruthlessly cut negative people out of my life, even relatives.
It’s also why I don’t engage in dialog on social media anymore. Its only value is simply for me to post content for others to consume. Social media has become a cesspool of complaining, arguments, hate and political diatribes. I’ve long thought listening to that drivel makes you dumber. Now I have proof, thanks Stanford!
In his research, minister and author Will Bowen found that the average person complains 15-30 times a day.
And what are the usual complaints du jour?
- It’s too early to wake up.
- It’s too cold out.
- The barista got my order wrong.
- The cars in front of me are moving too slow.
- My flight is delayed.
- The lines are too long, why can’t the store open a couple more cash registers?
- My dinner is cold.
Sound familiar? Yeah I thought so.
If we assume (conservatively) that you complain twice in each of these situations, you’re already up to a dozen complaints a day, the low end of average. And the scary part is that none of those are even work related.
Yep, your brain is shrinking.
Couple tips to avoid this:
- Don’t complain about something you caused or created.
- Focus on solutions. Don’t complain about something you can’t control with a solution. You can’t make the sun come out, so why bother whining about the weather. Instead do yourself a favor, put a coat on and shut up.
- Practice gratitude daily. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. Appreciate those who have helped you, not stress over who’s wronged you.
- Control your daily schedule, block off some “you time” and eliminate time spent with complainers.
Speaking of #3 and #4, I’ve got your back on how you can execute that. It’s called The Daily Game Plan. Equal parts gratitude journal and scheduling system, it will help you win the day, every day.