As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I have read some fabulous articles over the holidays. And in continuing the theme about complaining and being happier, I wanted to share this one about choices.
Practice doesn’t make perfect. But deep, deliberate practice, a form of training that involves concentration, effort, and a steady stream of critical feedback, can help improve any skill up to 10 times faster than conventional practice.
Practice with that level of focus and your brain forms myelin, a microscopic neural substance that adds considerable speed and accuracy to thoughts and movement. Myelin is kind of like a muscle, except instead of strengthening your body, it strengthens neural pathways related to a particular skill.
That’s great, but then there’s this: Your body doesn’t make value judgments. Practising something that isn’t good for you will also alter your brain.
Basically, your body adapts, and that adaptation helps build patterns of thought and behaviour.
The result is a virtuous cycle if you’re trying to learn a helpful new skill — and a vicious cycle if you regularly do something less positive.
Think of it as a bizarre version of the Law of Attraction: Complaining will cause you to “attract” more experiences you can complain about (except this phenomenon is based on science, not philosophy).
Complain, and over time it’s easier to be negative than to be positive. Complain often enough and complaining can become a default behaviour.
This is one reason some people seem to always be able to find something to complain about. They might say they’re perfectionists. They might say they have extremely high standards. But possibly they’ve just learned to complain. And trained their neural pathways to be really good at complaining.
Venting Won’t Make You Feel Better.
I know what you’re thinking: When you’re mad, upset, frustrated, etc., releasing those negative feelings helps you feel better.
Nope: Science says whining about your problems actually makes you feel worse, not better.
According to one study, venting just makes you feel worse. In fact, the more participants vented, the worse they felt their day had gone. And those negative feelings last.
As the researchers wrote: [Participants] ‘not only reported lower momentary mood and less satisfaction and pride with the work they’d been doing that same day … but they also tended to experience lower mood the next morning … and lower pride in next-day accomplishments.’
And if that’s not enough, those feelings affect the people around you.
If, as Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you hang out with, and one or two of those people tend to complain a lot, research shows that their bad mood affects yours. ……..Just as yours affects them.
So Instead of Complaining …
How you react — to anything — is a choice.
If something bad happens, you get to choose how you’ll respond. If something goes wrong, you get to choose how you’ll respond. If someone does something you don’t like, you get to choose how you’ll respond.
While you can never control everything that happens, you can always control how you respond.
The next time something goes wrong, don’t waste time complaining. Put that same effort into making the situation better: Talk about how you’ll make things better. Or what you’ll do next time. Or won’t do next time. Even if you have that conversation only with yourself.
Practice responding that way and in time you’ll build up neural pathways that make responding that way even easier.
In effect, being positive will become a skill — one you built through deep, deliberate practice.
Would you agree with this premise? I would love to hear what you think!