Complaining makes you happy (only under certain conditions), says a study

Optimism is often associated with happiness: so, to be satisfied with the life we ​​lead, it would be enough to see the glass half full. However, a scientific study states that those who complain to a close friend or spouse are much happier than their neighbor. Complaining makes you happy; no offense to some!

In recent years, an urban legend has led us to believe that verbal negativity is harmful to the well-being of the complainant. Therefore, behaviors such as having negative thoughts, complaint, moan, grumble, ruminate, speaking negatively about themselves or others, were strongly discouraged by personal development and positivity gurus. If we caricature their words, happiness is cultivated and therefore we should appreciate simple things, feel gratitude daily, make positive affirmations to be happy and fulfilled in life.

However, a study conducted by researchers from Southwestern University risks dismantling these false beliefs on which some followers of the toxic positivity. According to the researchers’ conclusions, those who complain are more likely than others to be satisfied with their lives and therefore to achieve happiness. But be careful, to fully allow their development, these complaints and laments must not be done haphazardly; only under certain specific conditions. We will explain it to you.

Ruminating in the company of a very good friend would make you happy

Complain yes; but not alone, not with anyone and in any way : researchers claim that it is precisely the co-rumination with a close friend, with whom you maintain a quality relationship, which significantly increases the level of “life satisfaction” :

“Co-rumination is positively related to life satisfaction,” they wrote in the report of their study.1

Personality and individual differences, 2024

It is therefore not simply the fact of having negative thoughts and expressing them verbally that plays a decisive role in happiness; but rather sharing it with someone who matters and who does the same. Moreover, “the more we co-ruminate, the happier we are”they added.

To refine their conclusions, scientists have identified two subtypes of co-rumination: “sympathetic discussion” and “constant and obsessive complaining”. And depending on the type of co-rumination we engage in, the effect on well-being is not the same…

Discussions in which we complain and where we find support: the key to happiness

The researchers found that obsessive complaining had a negative correlation with the level of life satisfaction: concretely, this means that the fact of repeatedly complaining to someone reduces our personal development. In reverse, brooding next to a loved one, during a discussion in which he clearly shows his support, contributes positively to the level of life satisfaction and therefore increases happiness. You will have understood that co-rumination with someone we love, who supports us during our complaints and other groans, contributes greatly to our feeling of happiness. This is news that will make people happy (a little shout out to all the complainers around us).


1. LI, Xuemei, WU, Yan, LIANG, Shuang, LIU, Xin, GUO, Cheng, “The more we co-ruminate, the happier we are? The relationship between co-rumination and life satisfaction: based on the dialogue process”, Personality and individual differences2024

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Source: Madmoizelle

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