We’ve all got that one mate. The one who always has something to whinge about, whether it be a delayed coffee, a bad Tinder date, a political gripe, or mud on his new shoes. Well, now you have good reason to muffle the moaning with experts finding that negativity, and complaining, has some seriously terrible consequences for your mental and physical health.
“People don’t break wind in elevators more than they have to. Venting anger is…similar to emotional farting in a closed area. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s dead wrong,” a hilarious analogy from psychologist Jeffrey Lohr.
Complaining is expressing negativity to make us feel better, but as well as catching on and making listeners feel worse, it can also have negative repercussions our mental health. Author and student of human nature Steven Parton even goes so far to say complaining can kill you, but why?
Synapses that fire together wire together. “Whenever you have a thought, one synapse shoots a chemical across the cleft to another synapse, building a bridge over which an electrical signal can cross, carrying along its charge the relevant info you’re thinking about,” says Parton.
Apparently, every time this electrical charge is triggered, the synapses grow closer together to decrease the distance the electrical charge has to cross, which means having a thought makes it easier for you to have that thought again. This is bad news for serial complainers, because negative thoughts will bring on more negative thoughts. Synapses that are closer together also win as the ones with less distance to travel, meaning gloom will beat positivity in future situations.
Parton also claims that negativity and complaining is detrimental to your physical health. “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.” Explains why stress usually brings on the sniffles.
It’s all about the stress hormone cortisol released when you’re down in the dumps. It interferes with “…learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease…The list goes on and on,” says Parton.
Don’t worry, be happy, and live a much longer life (with more friends).