ILLUSTRATED BY SYDNEY HASS.
When I don't know what to say, I complain. I'm cold. I'm hot. I didn't sleep. I ordered my lunch more than an hour ago and it's not here and I HATE MY LIFE.
It's so easy that it's annoying. The only thing worse than doing it is listening to it, which is why I was so happy to hear one writer (one hero, one saint) quit kvetching for a whole week.
Yes, Melissa Dahl avoided the darkest corners of idle chatter, whining, and mean-spirited gossip. At first, she failed, though she quickly moved on to cheating, masking gripes with exclamation points and posing leading questions to friends to elicit their very own gripes. But, then something changed. Thoughts were reframed, and real conversations were had. It was nice. And, when one week of niceness came to a pleasant end, Dahl reached a conclusion: She wanted to complain.
The sighs, the grunts, the commiseration, the camaraderie — there are actual benefits to getting your ugh on. Studies have shown it cannot only serve as an ice-breaker, but it can also be cathartic (researchers even found a connection between pessimism and longevity in older adults). But, plenty of psychologists argue that there's no way around it: Complaining brings your mood down.
Like all things that feel good immediately, it's about moderation. You must learn how to become a good and productive complainer — one who picks battles, whines strategically, and looks for silver linings. Though if you must whine, you should at least do it well. The first thing you need is an audience. Because, if no one's around to hear your complaint, did it ever really happen? (The Science of Us)