It’s important to think good thoughts. Having a positive outlook towards life can lead to you being more resistant to the common cold, better at stress management and even having a longer lifespan, says the Mayo Clinic. Too often though, it seems easier to be negative and complain, than to have that positive perspective.
I understand it – there’s just something about getting your frustrations out. But while it might seem harmless to complain needlessly, you are actually rewiring your brain and damaging your overall health.
Training your Brain
When you regularly complain, you create negative connections in your brain. Here’s a little bit of the science behind that statement. In order for a thought to process, a chemical needs to be sent from one synapse to another. Between two synapses is a small space called the synaptic cleft which the chemical needs to cross. But here’s the thing, every time you send a specific chemical over, your synapses adapt and grow closer together. This makes it easier for the chemical to be transferred in the future.
In this way, your brain adapts and rewires itself. Steven Parton, computer scientist and philosopher describes this, saying, “[the] synapses that fire together, wire together.” Whatever you expose your brain to time and time again, it will start accommodating to. If you’re exposing it to negativity, it gets easier for your brain to trigger it.
In the future, your brain will opt to use the synapses that are closest together. It will choose the shortest pathway so that you use the least amount of energy possible. So if you’ve made many short pathways for negative thoughts in your mind, and have much further apart paths for positive ones, the negative thoughts will always win. Those are the ones that will be triggered first. For consistent complainers, the negative pathway will become a default setting. In other words, when you’re faced with any situation, it will be much easier for your brain to develop a negative thought over a positive one.
Surround yourself with positivity
Imagine you’re listening to a friend tell you about an experience they went through. You will likely find yourself trying to put yourself into their shoes so that you can empathize with them, right? Well, that’s also triggering the negative pathways. Your brain is actively trying to understand the feelings of the person you’re listening to.
If you are constantly exposing yourself to cynicism, pessimism and complaints from the people you surround yourself with, this will also have a hand in reshaping your brain. There’s nothing wrong with being there for friends when they need it, but try to associate with people who lift you up. If you have people who complain about everything from the weather to their job, day in and day out, then maybe you should think about how their presence affects you. Complaining without doing anything to change it or to learn from it, is mindless and simply toxic.
Negativity physically hurts you
According to Parton, “when your brain is firing off these synapses of anger, you’re weakening your immune system; you’re raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and a plethora of other negative ailments.”
This is all because of the hormone cortisol. Have you heard of it? It’s commonly known as the stress hormone. If you are always stressed, it leads to many negative effects like loss in muscle tissue and bone density, impaired cognitive performance and increased fat in your body. All the symptoms mentioned here are associated with other health problems like strokes, digestive problems, and heart attacks. It’s really a slippery slope that all starts with negativity.
Change the way you think
If you want to feel better, and live better, it all starts with your perspective. Just like you can rewire your brain towards negativity, you can do the same thing for positivity. Approach your situations consciously, and choose how you will respond to them. The more you choose to think good thoughts, and to engage in productive discussions instead of mindless complaints, the happier and healthier you will become.
Has this article given you something to think about? Let me know in the comments section. Discussion is a good thing. 😉
Sources: Curious Apes, Mayo Clinic, Psychology Today
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