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Monday Lisa Returns. Brain Drain when you Complain…

September 22, 2019

I’ve read that people complain as frequently as once a minute when engaged in conversation. Would you put up with that?


Complaining may feel good, but like smoking or downing a pound of bacon in one sitting, it may seem enjoyable but it isn’t good for you.


The human brain is efficient; it doesn’t work harder than it has to. When you repeat a behavior over and over the brain’s neurons branch out to each other to ease the information flow. That makes it easier to repeat the behavior in the future and you may not realize you’re being repetitive. Maybe that’s why a positive attitude makes life seem easier. Strange how it becomes easier. 


Don’t blame your brain." Neurons that fire together, wire together."
Repeated complaining makes future complaining more likely. It becomes easier to be negative than positive, regardless of what’s happening around you. Grumbling becomes your default behavior and changes how people perceive you. 


Have you ever been around a crabapple, somebody whose attitude clears the room? Griping about things does that. And chances are he doesn’t recognize it’s his fault. 


Here’s the kicker: Stanford University research has shown that complaining shrinks the hippocampus, an area of the brain that’s critical to problem solving and intelligent thought. Damage to the hippocampus is scary––it is one of the primary brain areas destroyed by Alzheimer’s. 


Attitude adjustment: I’m so positive right now that my jaw hurts from smiling.


Complaining leads to brain damage, but it doesn’t stop there. Your body releases a stress hormone called Cortisol and shifts you into fight-or-flight mode. Oxygen, blood and energy are directed away from everything except essential systems for survival. 


Cortisol raises your blood pressure and blood sugar preparing you to escape or defend yourself.


The extra Cortisol released by frequent complaining impairs your immune system and makes you more susceptible to high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It also makes the brain more vulnerable to strokes.


People may seem to complain because they are depressed, but it’s quite the opposite. Depression targets the complainers. Not to say all people who experience depression are complainers it’s that complainers are easier targets. 


Human beings are inherently social, our brains naturally and unconsciously mimic the moods of people around us especially those we spend significant time with. This is called neuronal mirroring, the basis for what is called imitative response. You don’t have to do something yourself to suffer the ill effects, just be around it enough. Be cautious about spending time with people who gripe endlessly. They want people to join their pity party so they will feel better about themselves. If you were in a smoke-filled room would you sit there inhaling second-hand smoke or leave? No good can come of listening to negativity. Walking away is good; not showing up is better. You cannot fix a complainer, they must want to stop the default behavior on their own and choose to be positive. It can be a character flaw that emerged in childhood or behavior that rewards them in someway - so put away the Superman Cape for now, just check your own behavior and positivity levels.  


When you feel like complaining, take stock, reframe and think about something you appreciate. Shift your attitude to gratitude. Contemplate what you’re grateful for. Reduce the stress hormone Cortisol. In time, your positive attitude will become a way of life. 


You may even note that serial lamenters have lower intellect levels. So, check the company your keeping – you may need to do some housekeeping… More on that issue Next Monday.  Be Happy On Purpose. 


Remember  offers ways to break those difficult habits.
Text or Call: 480-322-1955.


Information contributed by Stanford University and Travis Bradberry, President at TalentSmart



Be Happy On Purpose it’s only Monday. 

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