There’s complaining and then there’s senseless complaining.
“Ugh! I missed the light because that dude was on his cell phone! I wish people would stop texting and driving!”
“I am sick and tired of these politicians and their lies”
“I wish it would stop being so hot and windy.”
“I wish it would stop being so cold and wet.”
“Why can’t they pave this path so we don’t have to walk in the mud?!” (in my thick comfortable boots.)
“I don’t have enough clothes!” (As I stare into a full closet)
“Aw, man! My pants have holes.”(As if that’s my only pair…)
“Did you see that chick? Couldn’t she have waited an extra two seconds for me to get in the car? People are so rude.”
Complaining is like a virus; if one person starts complaining, the negative sentiments spread like wildfire.
Sometimes it’s called grumbling, muttering, or discontent. Whatever we call it, these grumblings have a way of seeping into the very fabric of our personality. Instead of being the joyful lights God intended us to be, our mutterings make us just as gray and gloomy as the rest of the world.
According to Dr. Travis Bradberry, complaining actually “rewires your brain for negativity.” God made the human body to be highly efficient and the brain is no exception. As Bradberry writes, “When you repeat a behavior, such as complaining, your neurons branch out to each other to ease the flow of information. This makes it much easier to repeat that behavior in the future…your neurons grow closer together and the connections become more permanent.” Bradberry also references a Stanford University study demonstrating that complaining actually shrinks the problem-solving area of your brain known as the hippocampus. (His article is well worth the read! Click here for more.)
Complaining has negative effects on so many levels, so why do we do it?
Complaining feels good, like eating chocolate cake or lying in the sun. Unfortunately, excessive complaining—like excessive sugar or sunlight—can be quite harmful to your body.
Consider your most recent complaint—let’s say someone cut you off in the parking lot. Is it something you would write your congressman about? Is it something you could change in a positive way? Is it worth the effort and time to create a solution?
If the answer is no to all of those questions, it probably isn’t even worth vocalizing. Vocalizing or venting your feelings can be done with your mouth or with your keyboard. Do not mistake what you post on Facebook, Twitter, or Text Message as a non-complaint just because it didn’t pass your lips.
Note what the Proverb writer says:
A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.
~ Proverbs 29.11, NKJV, emphasis mine
We often show ourselves wisest in our silence.
November is usually a month centered around this idea of “Thankfulness.” Gratitude is certainly a good weapon against complaining (and one we will certainly cover), but to break a bad habit, we need more than an esoteric idea—we need a strategy. Do you want to change your brain? Do you want your neurons to fire on a more positive level? This is something I want to work on in my own life, and I have spent the past several weeks considering what the scriptures say about complaining and what we can do to fix it.
Join me this month as we cover strategies designed to curb the complaining contagion, brighten our testimony for Christ, and align our hearts and minds with the Spirit.