Have you ever been called out for complaining? Maybe you didn’t even realize you were doing it, you thought you were just expressing an opinion or a fact. But if someone at work or home has taken notice of your tendency to wear your negative emotions on your sleeve, it’s time for a change.
The solution that’s currently trending and likely to be here for the long-term? Meditation.
Scientists at Michigan State University have concluded that meditation can help tame less-than-positive emotions and enable you to be more mindful of your surroundings. Keeping negative thoughts at bay is possible even if you a) don’t consider yourself to be a mindful person and b) struggle with awareness of what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.
To possess a high level of mindfulness is to have a strong handle on your emotional brain. And to have a strong handle on this part of your brain is to demonstrate an ability to keep those ugly emotions (anger, disgust, self-pity, frustration) in check.
Jason Moser, head of the study, explains it like this: “If you’re a naturally mindful person, and you’re walking around very aware of things, you’re good to go. You shed your emotions quickly,” Moser said. “If you’re not naturally mindful, then meditating can make you look like a person who walks around with a lot of mindfulness.”
That is, it’s not enough to will yourself to react to frustrating situations this way if that’s not currently the way your brain operates—this is where meditation comes to the rescue. Calming one’s mind and forcing it to stay in the present moment actually works to produce a more thoughtful state of mind. It’s a deliberate effort and practice that leads to self-awareness, and observation, and understanding far beyond yourself.
Now, I won’t argue that complaining or venting can sometimes help to soften the situation. Often, just getting something off your chest works to make you feel better. The danger, however, is getting caught up in the negative way of thinking. It’s a slippery slope. If you’re only able to focus on the bad, you’ll miss a lot of good stuff. You’ll also probably fail to show that you can see beyond yourself, and in a professional setting especially, this is a major problem. It’s hard to look up to or respect someone who constantly fails to see the bigger picture that exists beyond their own needs.
So in the long-run, a far superior strategy to unleashing every negative thought that crosses the threshold of your brain, is to get in a more mindful state. Over time, it ought to make you better at your job, as well as a more likeable person. Even if you’re skeptical, it’s worth a try—because who can say no to those two huge benefits?
Photo of man meditating courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images.
Stacey Lastoe started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author