That car ahead of you is crawling at a snail’s pace. Your coworker constantly interrupts you. Your (fill in the blank: husband, wife, kids) can’t wash the dishes the right way.
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Americans find an alarming number of things to complain about.
“I’ve heard the rate of complaints in American conversations ranges from 70 to 84 percent,” says psychologist Scott Bea, PsyD. “Yet none of us likes to hang out with a complainer.”
Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD, agrees: “Complaints can be like viruses; it’s important to stay away from complainers.”
It’s not necessarily easy. We’re born with brains that have a negative bias. “We tend to focus on things that are not right, rather than attending to all of the rightness around us,” says Dr. Bea.
Let that tendency turn into a habit, and the world quickly becomes an unpleasant or dangerous place. Not a fun way to live!
But here are seven strategies you can try when you hear yourself complaining:
It takes time to learn patience on the road.
It takes practice to learn tolerance of others’ annoying habits. (Who among us doesn’t have them?)
It takes persistence to learn to let go of little things, like having the dishes done just so.
But “with some effort, you can learn to pay attention to what is right, helpful and uplifting around you,” says Dr. Bea.
You’ll discover that it adds happiness not just to your day — but to your entire life.