Here’s a fun fact: negativity is bad.
Here’s another fun fact: you should cut out anyone who is negative around you.
Hang on, here’s one more fun fact: you should cut yourself off if you realized just how negative you were.
Don’t think you’re negative?
How often do you catch yourself complaining? You’re probably not thinking too much into it. Chances are you don’t catch yourself that often, and the reason is alarming: we do it so much, it’s become second nature. Yes, we complain about anything.
If your salmon dish came out a bit cooler than you prefer, you let your neighbor know about it. If your pizza was too hot and the roof of your mouth took a lashing, someone is going to hear about it. When you meet someone new, you break the ice within a minute with some sort of complaint in an effort to elicit a laugh: the drinks are weak, the crowd sucks, your job is awful, and what-in-the-flying-fuck is that guy wearing.
And yes, I really did mean within a minute. We complain on average once a minute in a conversation with other people.
Which means that in your quest to carry on a conversation and avoid any awkward pauses, you probably threw out a few complaints. Innocent ones, but complaints nonetheless. And it’s a big fucking problem for your life.
Part of the reason we’re human is our ability to be more efficient than a lot of our counterparts… like lions, tigers, and bears, oh my. They might be efficient killing machines (unfortunately we are, too), but we’re efficient at basically everything.
Disclaimer: efficient at everything if we choose to be. Stop being so lazy. Yeah, you.
Pretty cool because it allows us to learn patterns, instill habits, and not expend unnecessary neurons on doing the same things over and over. Behind the scenes, the brain is literally wiring these synapses to become shorter and stronger as they send impulses between each other, so that in the future, your ability to trigger it becomes much quicker.
But if you’re catching on to where I’m going with this, you probably guessed right – it’s this same idea and pattern of efficiency that is our own downfall.
Oh Romeo, where art thou?
Well if you remember the famous Shakespeare play, I’ll tell you where he is. He’s screwed, because he inevitably learned the habit of complaining because he can’t be with Juliet and his brain doesn’t know any better. So off goes the mother fucker, chumming his way into Complaintville because of no Juliet, all the while Juliet plays into his Negative Nancy sharades and also throws a fit she can’t be with Romeo. And so now both are complaining about life constantly.
Remember how that story ends? Spoiler alert: they both die. Yeah I know I’m being a bit dramatic here with the story, but it’s for real.
When the pattern of complaining is now instilled in you, guess what your brain does going forward? Learns to complain. Actually, I take that back. It doesn’t learn to complain because it already learned it. It knows to complain.
And down the line, when things may not seem so bad, our brain backfires on us and gives us a meltdown of sorts, and voila – before you know it – you’ll find the bad in a situation or a person. I mean if you really looked hard enough, you could always find the bad in someone (or something) if you felt like it. Just like you can always find the good in things. But I’d wager that one is better than the other – finding the good will do you good, while finding the bad will do you bad.
Oh, you judge-y little human.
Now, how much you believe that wiring your brain for negativity affects your overall health is up to you.
Research suggests that firing off these synapses in the moments of stress and anger (which happens when you complain) lead to a weakened immune system and higher blood pressure, which in turn can lead to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
It’s all about the sweet, sweet release of cortisol, your favorite hormone.
You’re probably thinking something along the lines of the following, so I’m about to go ahead and agree.
You can’t get fat from thinking negatively.
Duh – kind of.
You can get unhealthy side effects from thinking negatively, which in turn can lead to potential weight gain. And again, it kind of starts with cortisol.
Here’s what it can do for you:
- Interfere with learning
- Lower bone density
- Store fat
- Increase weight gain
- Increase blood pressure
- Increase cholesterol
- Increase chances of heart disease
And the list goes on.
So now forget the actual physical health aspects of it all, and instead think about the mental aspects. Are you really OK rewiring your brain to default to and accept the bad in a situation?
If you don’t consciously think about it and change your negative patterns, it’s happening on a daily basis, and the synapses are only getting more and more efficient at their job. Scary.
The Bottom Line
Everywhere you turn, you’ll run into complaints. One big place this pops up is on social media. With the age of the internet and it’s insanely quick ability to reach millions of people in a matter of seconds, it’s no surprise that people will use Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, and other platforms to voice their displeasure with a person or company’s product/service.
And honestly, sometimes it’s definitely warranted. I think it’s a good thing that companies have to keep on their toes and provide excellent customer service and not hide behind the notion that they can get away with it.
But as you know, it gets abused really easily. So what’s the solution? You have to consciously be aware of it all, and realize that there really is no steadfast solution. Because we’re a generation of blame shifters, we apparently don’t like to accept the reality that we sometimes fucked up ourselves.
So next time you want to complain, ask yourself three questions.
First, why am I complaining? Whatever the answer is that comes (good or bad), own it.
Secondly, who benefits from my complaint? The answer is generally nobody, including you. Unless, of course, a shady business tried to pull a fast one (and you’re really not to blame at all).
And three, most importantly: would you say this complaint directly to the person’s/company’s face? In other words, here are a few examples:
- If you want to complain about a person, would you tell them your complaint directly?
- If you wanted to complain about a venue (ambiance, crowd, food, drinks), would you tell the event organizer in their face?
- If you wanted to complain about a business and you were granted the opportunity to sit down with the CEO, would you take the time to research who it is, sit down with them, and let it rip? (in a calm way of course, you spicy fucker).
The answers to most of these are probably no, and so you should probably avoid complaining about 95% of your bullshit.