A Complaint Free World

I have been disturbed recently by the amount of negativity that I have allowed to creep back into my speech. In my assessment, I am complaining entirely too much. While I haven’t felt well and I’ve been under a lot of stress, complaining certainly doesn’t help and it isn’t the way I want to be in the world. Then last night, I read this week’s writing prompt from Traces of the Soul. Oliana asked us to write about negativity, both our own negativity and the impact of being around others who are pessimistic and see a glass as half empty instead of half full.

A memory immediately popped into my head. There was a time in 2006 or 2007 when I heard about a project that had been started by a minister, Will Bowen. He challenged himself, and others, to go 21 days without complaining. For him, “no complaints” meant no complaining, no gossiping, and no criticizing. He used a bracelet for the challenge (now it is a purple bracelet, I don’t know what it was when he did it the first time). Every time he complained, he would transfer the bracelet from one wrist to the other. And each time he did that, the 21 days started over. He had expected it would be easy for him to reach the 21 day goal, but that was not the case. As I recall, it took him at least three months to accomplish that feat.

I am a psychotherapist. When I heard about this challenge the first time, I was so excited. I immediately started the challenge myself and also suggested that my group clients participate. I don’t remember how many of us completed the 21 days, but I know it made a difference in our speech, our attitudes and our behaviors.

When I thought of the “A Complaint Free World” challenge last night, I looked it up on the internet. I knew an organization had been formed and that people from all over the world were participating, but I didn’t realize how big it had become. At this point, more than 10 million bracelets have been sent to people in 106 different countries.  You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

The group uses a quote by Maya Angelou as their motto: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” In 2009, Maya Angelou was given the 6 millionth bracelet. Here is an inspiring video of that presentation.

It took me only minutes to decide that completing this challenge again is exactly what I need to do. I discovered that I still had one purple bracelet, but it was too small to go over my hand. While it is nice to have the official bracelet, and I may order another one, I know any bracelet will work. As soon as I finish the first draft of this post, the bracelet goes on! I think I will make a star chart to track the 21 days and while I’m at it, I will add no processed sugar and exercising to my star chart as well!

Do you want to join me in the challenge? If so, let me know, and consider sharing your experience throughout the time it takes you to complete the 21 complaint free days. I’d love to hear from you!.

32 thoughts on “A Complaint Free World

      1. That’s such a relief. It’s always good to know it’s just a matter of getting back up if you trip and fall! 🙂


      2. Absolutely. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to start over. Be like the toddler who is learning to walk. He falls and gets up again many times a day.

        It took the minister that came up with this process many months to complete it ….. and he thought he would be able to do it easily. Changing habits generally takes time and effort! But it is well worth it.


  1. I have to work at this every day.
    Before I open my mouth I ask myself if what I am about to say is ‘true, kind and necessary.’ I am talking a whole lot less now!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m a much better person for it, though my tongue often gets ragged from having bitten down on it so many times during a typical day!
        All my best to you.

        Liked by 1 person

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