You see them coming and you look like a rabbit in the headlights in your efforts to scamper. Too late, you’re stuck. It’s ok! Don’t panic and whatever you do don’t ask the question, “How are you?”
The older I get the more I struggle with those who lack just a basic level of gratitude.
Don’t get me wrong. I am more than aware that people go through tough times and I am not exempt from this myself. In all honesty I don’t care if certain people have a perpetual, undying desire to focus constantly on all that is wrong in their world.
What I do struggle with is the need these people feel to share this negativity. It’s like a nasty flu and before you know it, you too are walking around whinging contagiously.
The science is now in to back my claims that complaining is not only bad for your mood, but for the mood of all those around you. Furthermore, studies are now revealing that it can have serious repercussions for your mental and physical health.
In a nutshell, the brain fires off negative synapses when negative emotions are produced. These weaken your immune system, increase blood pressure, the risk of heart disease and a plethora of other ailments. In addition to this, spending time with those who are constantly negative can have a similar, derogatory effect on your health.
To be honest, these findings don’t shock me. At the start of this year, in the space of three weeks, my house burnt down, I split with my partner, my Mother died and my last child left home.
I gave whinging a red-hot go for a few days and even tried the ‘poor me’ as a possible solution. Needless to say it didn’t work. Mentally and physically I was spent.
Putting aside the necessary time to grieve, I got on with helping others and became renowned for the catch phrase “It could be worse, I’m not in Syria”. This may sound flippant but it certainly helped to right-size me and has held me in good stead to date.
So why do people feel the need to whinge? What I have found after having worked in several Third World countries is that those who have everything to complain about are often the happiest people you will ever meet and those who whinge seem to have the least to whinge about. This has always fascinated me.
Some argue that it is human nature that we vent. I can’t help but support Professor Jeffre Hors’ notion that “venting is anger, similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong”.
The good news is, the brain is brilliant at memory and repetition. The more we practice negative thinking, the more hardwired we are to seeing all that is negative.
On the upside, the same applies to positivity. Radical, I know! In my experience, this is not as simple as positive thought. It has to be backed by action and it takes vigilance and commitment but the payoff is huge; for both you and all those around you.