The Happiness Connection  

Avoid the Gossip Zone

A trouble shared is a trouble halved.

This proverb encourages us to share our problems in order to alleviate the stress they cause. I totally agree with this wisdom. It helps when we talk with close friends and family about problems we are experiencing.

The difficulty comes when we discuss issues, and problems about people, we may or may not know, and who aren’t actually participating in the conversation. When this happens, we may have taken a step into the Gossip Zone.

The Cambridge dictionary defines gossip as "conversation or reports about other people's private lives that might be unkind, disapproving, or not true."

Research both supports, and condemns gossip. Some studies claim that gossip strengthens ties in social and business networks, while other research suggests it harms relationships.

I believe that although you can while away many hours gossiping, it isn’t a happiness boosting activity.

Participating in it might make you feel you are part of the group, or your ego may delight in believing that others are worse off, or lesser people than you are.

However, these reasons do not fit with the principles for creating a robustly, happy life.

There is a fine line between sharing information about another person, and gossip. I believe the difference lies in the intention behind the conversation.

If you are sharing information for a loving reason, and striving to pass along an unbiased version of the situation, then I wouldn’t consider your conversation gossip.

Passing along personal information about another person might help someone else from putting their size 12s into their mouth.

Sharing the fact that a friend has miscarried, might help others from constantly talking about babies, or how difficult their births were. Knowing that someone has just been left by their partner, may help you understand why they are behaving ‘out of character.’

If you and a colleague talk about a boss who is micromanaging you, and making your lives at work extremely difficult, that might not be gossip.

If your intention is to try and understand this person better, to find ways to deal with your difficult working conditions, or just to share the frustration you are feeling, you are probably not in the Gossip Zone.

However, if your intention is to share everything you know about your boss, regardless of who you heard it from, just so you can take delight from illustrating all the ways he is a jerk, you probably are gossiping.

When you gossip, your stories are often coloured by your opinions, and you put your own spin, or interpretation on the events. The facts of the situation become more difficult to discern.

I wish I could say that I have never gossiped about other people, but sadly that is not the case. I know how addictive this pastime can be, and the feelings of belonging that they provide.

However, now that I am more conscious of the principles of robust happiness, I try hard not to enter the Gossip Zone.

For anyone who isn’t sure what these principles for robust happiness are, they include:

  • Not judging other people, unless their actions directly affect you, or someone is in danger of getting hurt.
  • Concentrating on the positive, rather than the negative.
  • Giving other people the benefit of the doubt, rather than believing that they are deliberately selfish, unthinking, or nasty.
  • Not comparing yourself to other people, especially when the intention is to feel better about yourself- ‘At least I never did that.’
  • Accepting that everyone is on their own journey, and has their own lessons to learn.

What do you do when you have a friend, or family member who likes to gossip?

You can’t control the actions of others, so to believe it is your responsibility to change their gossiping ways is unrealistic, and not your place to do.

You can only make the choice for yourself, but if you find yourself entering the Gossip Zone here are a few strategies you can try.

  • Change the subject to something more positive/less gossipy.
  • Explain that you prefer not to talk about people you don’t know, or people who are not present to give their point of view.
  • Suggest alternative reasons why the person being discussed, acted the way they did.
  • Remind your companions that like the game of Gossip/Whispers, information can change drastically, as it is passed from one person to another.
  • Walk away; a quick trip to the bathroom can be a lifesaver at times like this.

Gossip can be alluring, but remember, awareness is the first step to transformation.

When you find yourself talking about other people, stop and ask yourself what your intention is.

If notice you are entering the Gossip Zone, step out of it, and surround yourself with vibrations that are more positive.

What is happening in other people’s lives, for the most part, is none of your business.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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