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According to recent research, complaining actually makes you dumb. So if you know a serial complainer - or if you are one - run away fast!

by Pete Ferguson

Recently Inc. Magazine online ran a story by Minda Zetlin entitled "Listening to Complainers Is Bad for Your Brain." It's a great read I can highly recommend.

Complaining has its own gravity, it attracts more negativity.

I've found in my own life, complaining is the excuse for inaction. It gives me an armchair quarterback seat to fixing the world's problems by saying how things "should be."

But things won't improve when I'm sitting on a pile of "if only ...'s."

Even worse, being exposed to too much complaining can actually make you dumb. Research shows that exposure to 30 minutes or more of negativity - including such material on TV - actually peels away neurons in the brain's HIPPOCAMPUS. "That's the part of your brain you need for problem solving ... Basically [complaining] turns your brain to mush." ~ Zetlin with a quote from author Trevor Blake.

It is important here to distinguish between complaining and legitimate problem solving, and the distinction is simple. Just ask yourself what action is taken after an issue is raised?

There is a reason we call constructive criticism "constructive" - it should result in improved future results.

But complaining is like smoking, according to Blake. Wether you are the smoker or the second hand smoker, the long-term results can be the same ... continue reading.

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Comment by Peter A Ferguson on September 3, 2012 at 10:18pm

Thank you all for the input! We all now have a new word - and understanding - of how the brain works. There is a lot more research on the subject I found after writing the blog. While scientists are still searching for exactly what affect negativity has on the hippocampus, the evidence supports that more negativity is not a good thing. 

Comment by Ann Musico on September 3, 2012 at 5:42am

I'd not heard that before in exactly that way - but it makes perfect sense and I can easily believe it is true.  That's a powerful reason to break the complaining habit!

Comment by Carol Howell on September 1, 2012 at 11:27am

LOVE THIS BLOG!  The hippocampus is where memories and new knowledge first lands in the brain.  It is then transferred to other parts of the brain for permanent storage.  I am a dementia specialist, and I help people understand the hippocampus and its role in Alzheimer's and other diseases.  Thanks for this new bit of info!

Group Leader
Comment by Jen McDonough "The Iron Jen" on September 1, 2012 at 10:30am

"complaining is the excuse for inaction" - SO TRUE!

From experience, complaining is TOXIC and leads to going allows me to go into victim mode versus empowerment mod. 

Group Leader
Comment by Dan Miller on September 1, 2012 at 10:00am
Man I love this clarification on complaining. It sure makes my brain feel like mush whether I'm giving or receiving.
Comment by Robert Clinton on August 31, 2012 at 8:00am

Wow! That's an incredible study, but I can see the truth behind that. Complaining settles the mind away from actually doing something about it... 

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