An Attitude of Gratitude: How to Break the Habit of Complaining

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We’ve all got that one friend or family member who has a problem for every solution.

You know, the critic who can suck the air out of the room with their constant negativity. Who likes being around a complainer?

These days, complaining has become so commonplace that most people don’t even notice they’re doing it. Complaining and negativity spread like wildfire.

After reading a negative social media post or being around a pessimist, you may find yourself frequently spouting complaints about things that you would normally just brush off. According to recent research, most people complain at least once a minute during a normal conversation.

Recent research has also shown that complaining can rewire your brain, and not in a good way. Frequent complaining and negativity can shrink an area of the brain responsible for positive thought and problem solving known as the hippocampus. Constant complaining literally makes your brain smaller.

Why do we complain so much?

Why is complaining so prevalent? Well, honestly, complaining just feels good.

Venting about that rude person at work or the car that cut you off on the way home can seemingly relieve built-up stress. Let it out, don’t bottle it up, right?


Complaining can actually feed anxiety and induce the release of excess cortisol, which is a stress hormone responsible for triggering the fight or flight response. Cortisol raises your heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar.

Cortisol is a defense mechanism and, in moderation, it is helpful. However, the excess amount of cortisol released from constant complaining can wreak havoc on the immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases. So, how do we cut the habit of complaining and deal with negative situations and thoughts in a more healthy manner?


How to shift your mindset

I come from a long line of complainers. Pessimism is literally ingrained in my DNA.

Once a compulsive complainer, I’ve proudly kicked the habit and converted to the half-full side of the spectrum. Let me tell ya, things look a lot better from this side of the fence.

However, not all complaining is bad. Some complaining can actually be helpful and productive when executed the correct way. Complaining can even have a cathartic effect for some people.

Where we get into trouble is when we make complaining a habit. The negativity and hostility that often coincides with habitual complaining can psychologically destroy a person and have drastic effects on those closest to you. I know because it has happened to me.

Reversing these habits starts by becoming aware that no one really cares about your complaints. Think about it. Do you remember the last person who complained to you or what they complained about? Probably not. Why? Because you don’t care.

Once you realize that no one cares about your complaints, the detriment and ineffectiveness of complaining suddenly becomes exposed. This awareness will greatly reduce the significance that your mind has placed on negative thoughts and a shift in mindset can begin to take place.

Shifting your mindset from a negative dominance to a positive, more optimistic outlook starts with awareness and acceptance. The magic really happens when you follow this up by replacing negative thoughts with thoughts of gratitude.

When you feel the urge to complain, or find yourself entrenched with negative thoughts, immediately find something to be thankful for. If you’re struggling to find something to be thankful for, just open your eyes. You can literally be thankful for anything. Be thankful for the breath in your lungs, the beating of your heart.

This was a game changer for me. It is a proven fact that negativity cannot exist in the same place at the same time as gratitude. When I started looking for reasons to be thankful instead of looking for reasons to gripe and complain, my entire life changed.

Life isn’t all sunshine and roses, bad things are going to happen to you, that’s a guarantee. When bad things happen, you can either choose to be a victim to your circumstances or you can take responsibility for how you choose to perceive them.

Practice making gratitude your go-to and watch your life change. Just be thankful.

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