By Nancy S Buck, PhD, RN
Complaining is one of the deadly habits that contributes to destroying relationships according to William Glasser. A recent study reported in a Psychology Today blog stated that the most common complaint men have about marriage is the amount of complaining that their wives do. (Anyone else besides me notice the irony of men complaining about women complaining?)
Most of us can quickly name the expert complainer in our own lives. Sadly this is the person we try to avoid. Quite simply stated, complaining is unattractive and detrimental to our Mental Health & Happiness.
So why do so many people, including each of us, engage in this habit?
Our brain is hardwired to notice what is not right in our world. This attribute is necessary for our very survival. When we were evolving as a species it was important to notice when our environment changed enough to put our very survival at risk. When a pride of lions decided to move into the next door cave where we were living it was important that we noticed this change. Had our brain not alerted us to this danger and we not then taken appropriate action, that would have been the end of us!
This means our brain notices almost everything that is wrong in our world. Luckily most of us do not need to comment or complain about everything that is wrong. But most of us will comment or complain about some things sometimes.
Several of the recent blogs and social media posters writing about increased happiness advocate that people go twenty-four hours without complaining. Great idea. But what are you going to do instead? If complaining is a natural and brain based urge, if you don’t have some other strategy to follow instead you are most likely to fall right back into complaining all over again.
Why not use this natural brain-based ability to your advantage. Every time you notice something worth complaining about you can take this opportunity to start declaring what you want instead. The more you do this the more you will begin to better understand and appreciate what you really want in your life.
So instead of complaining about the lions who moved in next door you could say I look forward to finding a new home where friendly and safe neighbors surround us.
Instead of complaining about the weather you could say I look forward to the next sunny day or I’m sorry for me it’s raining. I’m happy for the gardens and flowers that it is raining.
Instead of complaining about some physical ailment that is causing you pain you could say This stomach ache is reminding me to make better food choices in the future or This headache reminds me to spend more time in gentle light to be kinder to myself.
Instead of complaining about all the complainers that surround you, you could say I wonder what these people want that they are not getting?
Go ahead and eliminate complaining for twenty-four hours. And for better Mental Health & Happiness replace your complaining with a declaration of what you want instead.