The Hidden Habit You Have And How To Set Yourself Free

The Hidden Habit You Have And How To Set Yourself Free

Complaining about complaining

Everybody has it, this toxic habit, at least to some extent. Complaining about the weather, the traffic, blaming the economy, that stupid neighbor, the bad internet connection or just life in general – cause life stinks.

This is not how it “should” be. Have you caught yourself complaining that there shouldn’t be all those regulations, the tax system, or you know, just money in general? Rejecting reality can be exhausting, not only for you, but also for the people around you.

Toxic for the brain

BrainA study from Standford University showed that if exposed to 30 minutes of complaining every day, neurons are damaged in parts of the brain responsible for problem solving and cognitive functioning.

If you are surrounded by people complaining a lot, it becomes more likely that you mimic their behavior. It’s best to think ahead, looking to make the best out of the given to keep full functioning instead of impairing yourself. Even if you are a passive complainer (as in passive smoker) it can be harmful for your mental health.


What is good about complaining anyways?

Research from Clemson University shows: If used effectively, complaining can lead to positive changes in your environment. However, constant criticism isn’t working as people tend to filter out critique of chronic complainers. Awareness of complaining how much, about what and to whom is essential.

As Guy Winch, Ph.D. puts in Psychology Today “Just as ineffective complaining can damage our mental health, complaining effectively and getting results can be incredibly empowering and it can affect our mood and self-esteem for the better.”

Here are some tips on how to break that hidden habit and become more positive instead:

1. Don’t try to change things you simply can‘tLet me change what I can, accept what I cannot and grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

We cannot change the weather, the traffic or the boss’ narcissism. There are things we simply cannot change or control. So it might be helpful to keep this in mind:

“If there is something that you can fix, then there is nothing to worry about. If there is something you can’t fix, then there is nothing to worry about.”

2. Gaze towards the sun

Sometimes we forget about the things we do have and keep complaining about the things we don’t.Quote If you gaze towards the sun the shadow will fall behind you

In those moments of complaint, reminding yourself of those things you already have and being thankful for them can be very powerful.

Not convinced yet? Make a list of those things you are thankful for or good things that happened and you will see that there is so much more to be thankful and that time spent complaining is a waste of time.

3. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Our heaviest complaints often are targeted toward ourselves. Mistakes are there to be made. There is no need to see you as a failure. Notice what happened, learn from it and try something else the next time. Learning from mistakes means to improve yourself.

You are not falling if your are falling forward!

4. Change is the new constant, deal with it!

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old man sitting on bench

Life holds lots of surprises and usually it’s full of changes. So learning to adapt to change is key. Try to find other possible perspectives on how to look at the change you are facing. There has to be something positive about it.

What can you find that is good about the situation, about others and about yourself? It is very likely that we don’t see it at first, but spotting the treasure afterwards will be even more satisfying.

5. Communicating instead of judging

Complaining can be a great tool for initiating change. Complaining about that co-worker of yours who treated you in a way you didn’t like, but without telling her your issue, doesn’t help anybody. Communicating team working together

The co-worker will keep doing it without even knowing that you are annoyed by it.

Instead: Try to put yourself in your co-worker’s shoes to understand the reason for the behavior. This way you can decide whether you want to communicate it to her in a solution-oriented and constructive way or whether it’s even up to you to change your own behavior.

6. Be aware of your words

There really are numerous triggers to start complaining, but is it really worth it? If you feel the urge to complain, take a second to pause and ask yourself these three short questions: 1. Is it kind? 2. Is it true? 3. Is it really necessary?

Sometimes we simply need a listening ear. We want someone to be there to know our pain or frustrations. The tricky one here is to be able to talk about it.

3 steps to see things clearly

These three steps can be helpful to see things clearly:

  1. Make a list: Writing can be a powerful alternative to speaking it out loud. It can help you see your complaints and you might want to rethink them and let them go.
  1. Schedule: This may sound a little awkward, but sometimes it can be helpful to ‘schedule’ a complaining date. You give yourself 10 minutes time to get rid of all your complaints and tell them to somebody. This will ensure to not lose yourself in your deepening spiral of complaints. With the previous two steps you have basically filtered those to the most urgent and important complaints.
  1. Action: Now, find out about the complaints you can actually do something about and find a solution-oriented way to communicate it to the right person.

Happy, complaint-free couple sitting on bench at San Francisco bay

The detox challenge!

I’m up for it! My own 7-day detox program, completely complaint-free. I don’t know about you, but I am complaining way too much. There are certain things that are how they are. So from today on, there will be no more complaints.

Find a friend or challenge partner to keep you accountable for or even better, take on the challenge together. Make sure, you agree on a signal (not as a punishment, just as a signal) you’ll send each other in case a complain slips out – and for sure, this will happen. This might be giving each other a friendly wink (this is what we are going to do), a decent hug or a high five for celebrating that you have made it for a whole hour this time.

Warning: side effects of not complaining are feeling lighter, happier and even more awesome!


Master Your Habits Using These 6 Free Apps

Master Your Habits Using These 6 Free Apps


Do you have habits that you wish you didn’t have? Maybe you want to train yourself to lose those habits and create better ones. Perhaps you want to exercise more, stop smoking, go to bed earlier or even call your mom more often.

For some of us, we might feel like we live on auto-pilot and we just keep going without consciously directing our time towards things that will help us feel good long-term.

Probably you can relate with this situation:

You’re on your bike or in the car and you’re taking the route to your house that you always take. Suddenly you wake up and realize that half an hour has passed! You can’t remember anything you’ve heard, felt or seen.

The habit of cycling or driving on that route is so engrained in your psyche that it is not consciously registered anymore. The same happens to many other habits we have. Imagine how this translates to bad habits such as binge-eating, smoking, anger issues and drinking alcohol excessively.

When you have certain bad habits for a long time it will be harder to loosen the automatic behavior because your brain’s hardwiring will be protesting more to stay the way it is. Similar to addiction, our body is ‘addicted’ to certain behaviors and will show signs of ‘withdrawal’ when the urge for the deeply-hardwired habit is not met.

14 habits app nathaniel emmons

The wonderful thing is that you can consciously build new connections in your brain’s neurochemistry by focusing your attention on the new habit and by embracing the feelings of discomfort caused by change.  You can train your brain to make a habit of desired behavior.

You’ll have less time to engage with old habits, the more time you spent building your new habits!


So how long does it take to build a new habit? Researchers at the University College of London estimated that it takes on average 66 days to perform an action ‘without thinking’ e.g. the practice becomes an automatic response triggered by a contextual situation or object.

What if there was a way of holding yourself accountable to keep new habits such as through being reminded regularly, joining a group of people engaging with the same new habit, seeing your progress and setting rewards for yourself?

There is! Have a look at these 6 free apps that can help you keep good habits: (Previously Lift)

This easy to use app gives you the opportunity to choose to be cheered on by a community of members with the same habit goals. You can also choose to hire a coach that will help you through the app. Your progress can be showed in either calender, table or pie-chart format. It can be opened in your browser too.

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This app lets you visually see the progress of your habits the most accurately of this list. There is also a desktop version. If you like to monitor closely how your habits are doing, this will be a powerful tool.

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Way of Life

Way of life app does a great job in visually showing streaks of habits. There is also the opportunity to skip days. It gives you a good overview of how the week or month is going and what the trend is. It is a very straight forward app, this makes it efficient quickly.

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Good Habits

This app gives you a wonderful choice of color and you can easily see how your week and month is progressing. You can also choose not to do a certain habit certain days a week and you can pause habits.

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irunurun is a magnificient way to take on a challenge with a team. You can both manage your habits and track your progress on your phone or desktop.

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This appealing app focuses on balancing your habits better. You can choose how often you want to do a certain habit per day, week or month. The app has an approachable user-interface which makes for easy habit tracking.

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Enjoy building on your good habits and let us know what your favorite is in the comments below or on the facebook/twitter post!