Monday, March 10, 2008

No Complaining

The March 10 Newsweek has an article on preacher Will Bowen's "No Complaining" campaign. Basically he believes that "complaining has become such an automatic response to life's little setbacks that people don't even realize they're doing it." To raise awareness of the problem and help people to stop complaining, Pastor Bowen distributes purple rubber bracelets which say SPIRIT. The person who wears the bracelet is to stop complaining for 21 days. The person wears the bracelet and each time the person hears himself/herself complain, the bracelet is switched to the other wrist and the 21 day calendar begins again. Bowen's rationale is that complaining impairs happiness and rather than complain about a situation the person should just handle it. If your car breaks down, don't complain, just call the mechanic and get it fixed.

Supposedly it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, thus the 21 day time period. I can actually understand the bracelet as a reminder, too. I had a student who wore a rubber band around her wrist. When trying to break the nose-picking habit, she would snap the rubber band on her wrist when she wanted to pick her nose. It worked and she became nose-pick free.

Part of me likes the "no complaints" idea. But first "complaint" needs to be defined as to understand what behavior needs to be eliminated. defines complaint as: expression of discontent, regret, pain, censure, resentment, or grief; lament; faultfinding: his complaint about poor schools.
a cause of discontent, pain, grief, lamentation, etc.

Some synonyms for complaint:
grumbling, grouse, gripe, fault-finding, bitch, whine, wail, blame, castigation (isn't that a great word!), criticism.

Just to clarify further, some antonyms are:
forgive, absolve, praise, vindicate

If I understand this, one would say "We have a lot of snow" as an observation rather than "We have so much flippin' snow, and I'm sick of it." I understand that the second statement is a complaint.....BUT, what if "We have a lot of snow" is said in a nasty, hostile tone of voice? The statement itself is not a complaint, but the tone of voice could make it a complaint. So, if I decide to undertake the 21 day challenge, I would not only have to take care not to complain but would also have to watch my tone of voice.

Now, what situations cause common complaints for me:

other's driving, the weather, car trouble, the weather, people's behavior, living in New London, RA, other's politics, Gladys's existence.....

I know there are more but this is a start....a daunting start. Is saying it's daunting a complaint?
Attending a no complain workshop would be helpful. Maybe at a workshop complaining would be better defined and practicing alternative thinking, behavior, words could be role played.

My fear in trying this is my sense of humor is often based on sarcasm and isn't sarcasm negative? So much of conversation is based on complaint....what will one say in conversation?
That said, I think I might put on my hot pink Tropicana rubber bracelet and take the concept out for a spin. Even though I'm not ready to send for the purple SPIRIT bracelet, it can be inexpensively purchased at

I'll let you know how it goes!

1 comment:

aelawton said...

wow, what an idea!
but i couldnt live with out my sarcasm!