Nov 4, 2016

These findings illustrate how irritation and complaint are self-reinforcing: objecting to something you can’t control brings a moment of catharsis, but mainly makes things worse, by increasing the attention you bring to the problem, which makes it more intrusive. You end up listening more acutely for the next noise and getting more irritated when it comes. It’s stressful even when there’s no noise, because you’re on edge, waiting for the silence to be broken. No wonder a single complaint becomes hundreds: the complaining is nourishing the problem. This gets easier to see if you think about these minor irritations like a difficulty encountered in a relationship – in this case, between you and your environment. Railing against them is like falling out with your partner, then continuing, over and over, to pick further fights for the sake of it. And when has that ever helped?