The negatives of complaining

Neil Ostafichuk complains about complaining -- sort of.

Neil Ostafichuk

Hopefully we should be over the New Year resolution thing by now and have either immersed ourselves into the new change or have broken them and got that tradition out of the way early. To tell you the truth, it seems like there is less of that from what it used to be; for instance, we used to see a swell of participants into the fitness and swimming areas with a subsequent drop off after the realization that it is hard work. I would say now overall participation has gone up but the swell seems to be happening late January or early February with perhaps more of a focus on a personal fitness plan. Either way, “this is a good thing” as Martha would say.  Unfortunately, we still have to suffer through the resolution news stories that seem to get trotted out like old Christmas decorations with hopes of something quirky enough to capture the audience’s attention (however briefly).

Whoops! Was I actually complaining? Do you ever find yourself complaining about the amount of complaining going on in your office and then realize you’ve turned into one of the complainers? Surveys suggest workplace complaining is on the rise and that complaining drives everyone around the bend including, oddly enough, the complainers. An article from Entrepreneur cites research showing that most people complain once a minute during a typical conversation. Ouch! And chronic complaining has been shown to rewire our brains to make future complaining even more likely. Research from Stanford University shows that complaining shrinks the hippocampus – the part of your brain that’s key to problem-solving and intelligent thought. Actual real life experience shows us this when you look at some of the conversations on Facebook.

Complaining also releases the stress hormone cortisol, which does all sorts of nasty things to our bodies. But wait, there’s more! Due to the phenomenon known as neuronal mirroring, people naturally and subconsciously mimic the moods of people around them – in other words complaining is highly contagious! So what to do? First, you can be careful about whom you spend your time with (including on social media) and you should shift your thinking to remind yourself what you are grateful for. Research has shown that focusing on what you’re thankful for reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. When it is something that’s worth complaining about, the second solution is to practice solution-based complaining: focus on what your desired goal or outcome is with a clear purpose in mind.  Start by focusing on the positive points surrounding the issue; be as specific as possible when talking about a solution or desired outcome, and end on a positive tone with a recommendation for how to move forward to resolve the issue amicably.

So, to welcome 2017 on a positive note, a few random items. First, small town living allows for such benefits as having a cousin in England that seems to get our address on a Christmas card either wrong or with multiple deviations each year but it always finds its way to me – either through the graces of our local postal service or via someone that knows of me in some manner. You won’t find that in the big city. Secondly, on the upside of social media, the amount of sharing with people travelling to or from Creston, offering rides, advising road conditions or transporting parcels to benefit others, including complete strangers, is pretty inspiring. Finally, more of an observation; since the advent of the backup camera which I believe will be mandatory on all new vehicles by 2018, we see less people wiping off their back window with their snow brush and instead use a one finger brush to clear the camera lens in the back. This advance in technology of course frees up a portion of time that can now be used to go swimming or workout at the Community Complex to offset the loss of exercise in sweeping off your window. Win – win!



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