Complaining can kill your happiness. According to the science of happiness, complaining excessively can inhibit our ability to be positive and stunt our capacity to experience joy and happiness in life.
What is the science of happiness?
The science of happiness refers to the study of what exactly makes us happy and enables us to flourish. Positive psychology, a novel field of social science is widely considered as happiness science as it allows us to change our lives in a positive way. However, positive psychology is not limited to positive thinking or applying self-help tools in your life. It consists of a wide field of research and application. According to an article published in Harvard Health, “The term positive psychology is a broad one, encompassing a variety of techniques that encourage people to identify and further develop their own positive emotions, experiences, and character traits.”
As per Dr. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in the field, the science of happiness aims to understand what makes humans flourish. Seligman, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, claims that positive psychology is not ignorant of mental illness or human suffering. Instead, it focuses on encouraging communities and individuals to implement practices that can enhance our optimism, boost our resilience, and empower us to live meaningful and happy lives. A trained coach and positive psychology expert Meghan Keener explain “Positive psychology functions constructively in helping us get more of what we do want, and making ourselves better, happier people.” However, complaining frequently can effectively kill our happiness by bringing negativity into our lives unnecessarily.
Complaining can be toxic
“Complaining on a daily basis is absolutely horrible for you mentally and physically, and just as bad for relationships, which all play a role in how productive you are,” writes entrepreneur John Rampton. Every time we introduce negative emotions into a discussion without offering any resolution, we are complaining. It can not only affect our mood and behavior, it can also adversely affect our productivity as well. Moreover, frequent negativity can also create distress in our relationships and career. But that’s not all. It can be toxic for your health and brain as well.
Complaining rewires the brain
According to author Steven Parton, negativity and complaining can alter our brain and drastically affect our mental health. He believes that complaining regularly can actually kill you. Parton explains “Throughout your brain there is a collection of synapses separated by empty space called the synaptic cleft. Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, thus building a bridge over which an electric signal can cross, carrying along with its charge the relevant information you’re thinking about.” This process is extremely similar to how nerves carry electrical charges from our toe to our brain where we actually feel the sensation.
He adds that “Every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together in order to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross.” This is how our brain rewires itself and its circuitry by physically modifying itself to make the process easier for the right synapses to share the chemical link and spark combinedly. This enables our thoughts to trigger more easily. “Your thoughts reshape your brain, and thus are changing a physical construct of reality,” adds Steven Parton.
But that’s not all. Engaging in negative thoughts repeatedly can make us develop a negative mindset without us even realizing it. John Rampton adds “Once you start complaining, you can’t stop. Eventually, this becomes a habit.” As a result, the closer synapses drive us to have a more pessimistic outlook towards life, making us engage in complaining even more. Parton writes “Through repetition of thought, you’ve brought the pair of synapses that represent your proclivities closer and closer together, and when the moment arises for you to form a thought, the thought that wins is the one that has less distance to travel, the one that will create a bridge between synapses fastest.” Eventually negativity overcomes positivity, affecting your mind, body and soul.