2 years ago · lizzie · 0 comments
The 5 Key steps for How To Stop Complaining And Be Happy
Step 1 – UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF CHANGE
The first step to learn how to stop complaining and be happy is truly believe that it is important to do so. So this is where we begin – convincing you that your complaining is doing more harm than good.
Negative behaviours and language actually change your brain structure – for the worse and the converse is true for positive habits. In depression for instance, where negative thinking becomes heightened, we start to see chemical changes in the brain that continue to alter the chemistry of the brain.
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Alex Korb, Ph.D. ( author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time)
Negative thinking, such as complaining, leads to more negative behaviours and a tendency to see the world around you more negatively. So, the more your complain, the more you will continue to complain – and the cycle goes on and on.
In addition to the negative impact complaining will have on your brain chemistry, it can have a very detrimental impact on your relationships. Whilst it is important to speak up, perpetually complaining about things you cannot, or do not want to, change (e.g. world events, friends/partner’s behaviours, the weather) can lead to a lot of frustration. Friends will offer you support and understanding, but may also grow tired of your inaction if you continually complain about the same things without taking steps to improve your life.
Step 2 – MAKE A COMMITMENT TO CHANGE
Now that you understand how important it is to learn how to stop complaining and be happy, you can decide “TODAY is the DAY I will stop”. It’s important to undertand there is a difference between venting your frustrations and asking for support AND perpetually complaining. The former is usually short-lived, whilst the latter is long lasting and very repetitive. To stop complaining, does not mean you become an annoying person who can show no empathy to others and pretends the world is perfect. To stop complaining, means changing your lens and focus.
In order to change ANY behaviour, you need to make a commitment to stick to this change. Complaining is just a bad habit. Like eating too much junk food every afternoon, or avoiding exercise to watch television. You have rewired your brain to tap into negativity and to voice this negativity on a regular basis to others in the hope of getting support, or fostering more complaints.
So decide right now you are going to become more conscious of your negative speak. Think before you begin a conversation and ask yourself, am I just complaining here? Common complaints you may recognise in yourself are things like:
- “I’m so tired, I had the worse sleep last night”
- “I’m sick of this cold weather”
- “Did you see the news last night, wasn’t that story terrible”
- “I hate my job”
- “I can’t afford that, I don’t earn enough money”
- “I can never wear anything I like”
- “I’m sick of cleaning up after you”
All these things may be legitimate, but if you voice them too regularly, you will feel that the world is a very negative place and your lens will perpetually be negative too. This means you will lose sight of the positive things in your life. You will miss the good things that are happening right in front of you.
Step 3 – PAY ATTENTION to the complaining
One of the things I often ask my counselling clients to do when they want to learn how to stop complaining and be happy, is to start paying attention to how they speak to themselves. A LOT of complaining occurs internally. For instance, you are rushing to get to work and someone is taking too long to turn in front of you. This causes you to miss the green light and you are delayed even more. What do you say to yourself in this moment? If you are like more people, you internal thoughts will go something like this:
“you stupid idiot… where did you learn how to drive… I’m going to be so late now…. you can’t be scared on this road – you have to go for it, I’d be almost there now…”
These are the moments when complaining becomes truly ingrained. It is in these moments that you need to catch yourself. When you hear these negative thoughts in your mind, think about ways you could reframe the situation and think more positively and reduce the complaining.
In the example above where you have been delayed due to another driver, ask yourself if this REALLY is the reason you are late. The truth most likely is that you didn’t give yourself enough time this morning to get ready or you were delayed for some other reason. As a result you left the house late. The person in the car in front of you (whilst annoying), is not doing anything wrong really. He is just trying to be careful in order to avoid an accident. So you just need to calm down. Accept you are late and make sure you leave on time tomorrow to compensate for any possible delays like this on the road again.
By reframing (with all true statements), you can difuse the complaints and start to reduce your internal tension.
Step 4 – LOOK FOR THE POSITIVES
Complaining leaves you with a negative filter and can result in low self esteem. It’s impossible to learn how to stop complaining and be happy if your focus is on the negatives. You tend to start looking for things to complain about and too easily join in with other people complains aswell. This makes it more challenging to focus on the positives around you. As a said before, you don’t want to be fake and pretend everything is great if it isn’t. However, you want to open your eyes to the wonderful things, people and opportunities that are happening all around you.
Think about times when you have been upset by something someone said or did. How has this impacted your relationship with your children, friends, family or co-workers? Have you found it difficult to focus and be ‘fun’ in that moment? Most likely – YES. The key here is to put negative experiences aside until you can address them and be in the ‘now’. Be conscious not to allow negative impacts to affect other aspects of your life.
Be on the look-out for positives. Watch your child play and be moved by their kind interactions with others. Catch a glimpse of a couple having a loving embrace. Really savour your morning treat and think about all the delicious flavours your comsuming. Appreciate your partner’s long hours at work as a reflection of trying to support your family. There are so many things to be happy about in this world, if we just pay more attention.
I do think all the time. A simple thing like watching someone running for the bus and seeing the bus driver wait to collect this rushing passenger – makes my day. I think about how happy both parties will feed. The bus driver will feel good about doing something to help another human being. The passenger will be relieved and have a good-news story to tell when she arrives to work that day. It has nothing to do with me, but I can take positives from that and allow it to improve my own mood. It’s simply, but very effective.
Step 5 – BE MINDFUL to be Happy
Mindfulness is a huge part of stopping to complain. It places you in the moment and draws your attention to the little joys in life. A simple mindfulness practice in the shower each morning can start your day off on the right path.
Stand in the shower for a moment and focus on the drops of water as they touch your skin. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the water as drips down. Listen to the water falling onto the tiles. Open your mouth and taste a few drops. Place your hand out to feel the drops as they caress your fingers.
It only takes a few minutes, but it allows you to concentrate on the positives of a simply daily task. It quietens your mind. It does not take any extra time – you have to shower anyway. However, it has a hug impact on your positive mood, stress levels and how much you will complain that day.
There are lots of places you can be mindful that do not take up extra time in your day. You can focus when washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or combing your hair. Just think about all that involved in each process and allow yourself to be fully present in that moment.
So take this 5 step challenge to learn how to stop complaining and be happy today. You will see the positive impact this has on your life immediately.
Lizzie O’Halloran, BBSc, MASR, NLP Prac
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