Do you want to be right or happy?

Our ability to direct our focus and energy toward the positive (rather than negative) things in our life plays a big role in our overall sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Even the luckiest person on the planet could focus their energy on what doesn’t work, what they don’t like, what they don’t have — and live miserably.

Notice that this is simply a choice. Nobody ever forces you to think negative thoughts.

Some people end up developing negative thought patterns as a habit, and over time it gets harder to rewire the mind. But it’s still a choice.

Our thoughts generate feelings. Feelings can then turn into actions, actions into thoughts — and it can soon become a vicious cycle (in a good or bad way).

Why complaining is draining

Let’s say there is something in your life that makes you unhappy. Your reaction or response may be to complain about it.

Now, if complaining helps you identify the problem, and take action — that’s probably a good thing.

The issue is that for most people, complaining really is draining. And the worst part is that it’s unhelpful — it doesn’t change anything in your life. If anything, it lowers your energy.

When you constantly complain and dwell on whatever issue you’re facing, you are essentially wasting time. You are thinking in circles.

Over time, this can become a habit, or pattern, and soon you find yourself complaining about everything and everyone simply because that’s the mindset you’ve developed.

Now, if you’re reading this post, then I doubt it could ever happen to you.

But you want to pay attention to all your negative thought patterns because you want to avoid any negativity in your life.

Literally any negative and unhelpful thought is your enemy. It’s a waste of time and energy.

Complaining is draining, do this instead

Here are five tips to stop thinking in circles and actually fix what needs to be fixed (or simply learn to deal with it)…   

1. Realize complaining is unhelpful

Hopefully by now you have learned that some of our thoughts and actions lead to nothing but frustration.

The next time you find yourself complaining about something, or criticizing someone, pause and ask yourself whether your thoughts or words actually make any difference. Chances are they don’t.

It’s natural to react to anything we don’t like, and complain, but typically the longer we do it, the more we get stuck in a loop.

If you have no control whatsoever over what you complain about, then it may be time to simply stop thinking about it.

If you do have the power to change what you complain about, then have a look at the next tip…

2. Focus on solutions, not problems

It really is that simple. Focus on problems and you’ll make your life worse; focus on solutions and you’ll make your life better.

It is definitely easier to just talk about the issue, and complain and do nothing. But finding creative solutions isn’t that difficult.

This is where the power of questions comes in. By asking questions, you train your mind to come up with solutions. Creative, abstract ones, or obvious ones.

Ask yourself how you can change or improve the things that make you unhappy. Often.

The more you’ll do it, the easier it will be, because ideas and solutions tend to be universal (a brilliant solution to problem A may serve as inspiration for a solution to problem B, C, and so on).

3. Do more

Complaining is draining. Complaining is a huge waste of time.

If you or someone you know has fallen into the trap of complaining too often, my third tip is to try and fill all that time with things that make you happy.

In this sense, being busy can do wonders for your mental health.

Don’t get me wrong — problems are meant to be fixed as soon as possible. You don’t become busy for the sake of avoiding them.

And you definitely don’t become busy for the sake of being busy (that’s what a workaholic does).

What I’m referring to is the simple act of filling your time — minutes, hours, days, months, years — with positivity and things that make you happy. Complaining doesn’t make you happy.

4. Practice gratitude

If you ever had to create a mental health checklist, or write down the top priorities in terms of mental health — I’m pretty sure gratitude would be part of that.

Most people don’t realize how powerful gratitude can be. And the best part is, it doesn’t cost you anything. You don’t even need to use your imagination.

Again, this is as simple as shifting your focus and awareness.

Why focus on the few things that don’t work when you could focus on all the miracles in your life?

Gratitude helps you do that, and ideally you want to turn into a habit (for example, by keeping a gratitude journal).

5. Ditch perfectionism

Meaning: don’t expect things to always be perfect, to always work out.

Don’t assume you or others will never make mistakes. Don’t assume your life is supposed to look like an Instagram profile.

Some “professional complainers” are idealists who are unhappy just because the outer world does not match their own vision.

Nothing wrong with changing the world and making it a better place, but when perfectionism leads to constant complaining and frustration, then it’s best to change the way you think.

Ditch perfectionism and accept that life, although wonderful, will never be perfect. The more you try and make it perfect, the more problems you’ll create.

Final thoughts

More often than not, the act of complaining is counterproductive.

It’s a mental trap that drains your energy and that wastes precious time.

Over time, complaining can turn into a toxic pattern that can be triggered whenever you are in a negative state. For example, when you are angry, or tired.

If you ever think you are complaining too much…

  • Remind yourself that complaining rarely changes anything (in your life, and in the life of those around you)
  • Start focusing on solutions rather than on problems; develop the habit of asking questions and coming up with new ideas
  • Fill your time with positivity — people, things, and activities that raise your mood and energy
  • Practice gratitude (there is an endless list of things you can be grateful for; you just need to shift your focus)
  • Don’t expect life to be perfect because it will never be; know that trouble is a part of life and we all have to deal with things we don’t like