Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul.
(Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 193)
Studies have shown that 80% of our conversations have been made up on gossip. It seems like, gossip is part of our everyday life. For a lot of people it seems impossible and unnatural not to gossip. We gossip about our friends, our spouses, our coworkers, etc. Have you ever thought about how this, gossip, can affect your happiness?
Before being able to understand the effects of gossip or backbiting on our happiness we need to understand why we gossip?
Below is a list of three most common reasons that we gossip:
- Gaining fellowship-Usually the person who starts the gossip, does it because they are trying to convince others in the room to agree with them and to follow them. This causes separation and disunity.
- Jealousy- The person who starts the gossip is jealous of something that the other person possesses and it seems they get a relief if they make the other person look bad.
- Not having anything better to do- it seems like whenever we are out of option and bored, a good juicy gossip can change the environment and gets everyone talking. This is unfortunate, but it is so true.
Now that we know the reasons why we gossip, lets look at each reason and see how it can affect our happiness:
Gossiping to gain fellowship: when we start convincing others that we are right and they should be friends with us by talking badly and poorly about others, deep down we know that this relationship will not last long. Even though at the moment, we will feel happy and satisfied because others are following us, the feeling is very short lived. And soon that feeling of joy will turn into emptiness and shame.
Gossiping due to jealousy: this one I believe is the worst one and the most common one. “Did you see how much she spent on that bag?” or “I can’t believe, how they can go on a date night and leave their baby with a babysitter.” and on and on and on. The fact is the person who is saying these things, really wants to have the option, to buy that expensive bag or go on a date night with their spouse, but they don’t and instead of celebrating the other person for their achievements and try to learn from their expertise, they decide to put them down, since it is easier. Imagine how happier that person would really be if they could get what they really wanted instead of backbiting and making the other person look bad.
Gossip due to boredom- this one happens all the time. Lately I have been spending a few hours a week at Starbucks, while waiting for my daughter to finish her school. It is very interesting, some people spend hours talking badly about others and they all look angry, unsatisfied and unhappy. This I call gossip due to boredom. The interesting fact is that they all leave the conversation even more mad and angry than when they started.
So how can we avoid these kind of Gossip?
Avoiding gossip to gain fellowship- next time when you feel like you need new friends, instead of talking bad about others, try to find the good qualities, which others are looking for in a friend, and try to master those good qualities to gain fellowship.
Avoiding Gossip due to jealousy: recognize others achievements and ask them how they got to be so successful and see if you can do the same
Avoiding gossip due to boredom- next time when you run out of ideas to talk about, pick up a project to work on with your friends or talk about your own faults and bad qualities and try to fix them instead of talking about someone else.
Back to our quote at the beginning of this blog, backbiting really extinguishes the brilliant light of the heart. Since it causes disunity and separation, it causes jealousy and anger and destroys happiness.
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