People like to complain. In the past, study has shown that we complain once every minute during a conversation. That’s bananas! It seems as though complaining has become a part of how we communicate. Our brains seem wired for complaining.
Is that true? Is complaining encoded in our brain in such a way that we can’t go without it?
Our flexible brain
Our brain is always growing. Not in size, but in ability. The brain is able to adapt to our experiences. This is called ‘neuroplasticity’. An extreme example of this, is a Frenchman who lived his life with less than 50% of his brain without experiencing any major limitations. when he was a baby he sufferd from a brain condition called Hydrocephalus. This caused a gradual loss of brain matter. The remainder of his brain slowly took over the functions of the lost brain areas.
But neuroplasticity already takes place during everyday life; when we are learning a new language, a new sport and even when we go wine tasting. When we learn, do or say something, the connectivity between neurons in your brain increases. So the next time you do or say the same thing, it gets easier. This is why training makes you better at something. Why does this happen? Well, our brain simply likes to be efficient: it wants to do as much as possible, with the least amount of effort.
How complaining rewires the brain: what you think, you become
This also applies to how we speak. When we complain, it gets easier for our brain to complain again. Repeated complaining changes the brain and makes complaining easier: your brain gets trained. And after a while it becomes a habit and complaining may become your default behavior.
You become who you surround yourself with
We humans are a social bunch. We like to imitate the behavior of people around us. Because of ‘mirror neurons’ in our brain, we are even pretty GOOD at imitating. Have you ever felt happy because someone around you was? Have you ever had the urge of wanting to dance right after watching a dance show? That’s because of these neurons. We also, however, mimic negative behaviors and moods. When someone around you is constantly complaining, you are more likely to complain yourself. Behavior is indeed contagious.
Is complaining bad for your health?
Yes, complaining is even bad for our health.
♥ Complaining shrinks the hippocampus, which is a critical area within our brain for memory, problem solving and intelligent thinking.
♥ Complaining increases the release of stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol raises blood pressure and blood sugar, impairs the immune system and can cause high cholesterol and diabetes.
Now, if you are convinced that complaining is bad for you, let’s start a challenge. Let’s try to not complain at all for 24 hours straight. And if you succeed, try it for a whole week!
If join this challenge, make sure to leave a comment, send a message OR send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Would love to hear your experience. Share your new, good and healthy habit! ♥