Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Complaint-free Lent

I'm a little late out of the starting gates, since Lent started nearly a week ago, but better late than never.

Those of you who know me might not think of me as a complainer, but recently I've become aware that I complain (and gossip, defined as complaining about another person to someone else without saying it directly to that person) more than I should. In fact, in the past year it has hurt my career. I tend to have high standards and strong opinions, and sometimes I'm not good at keeping those to myself or expressing them in the most constructive way possible (directly to the person involved). This has been eye-opening for me, because I do not want to be a complainer. In fact, it annoys me when other people complain. Hello Marie--open your eyes!

So that's why I decided I would set out on this process during Lent. I found A Complaint-Free World by Will Bowen (the hyphen is mine), who is a minister in the Unity Church. He started the complaint-free movement in his church by giving away purple bracelets (shown on the cover, above) and developing a technique to reduce or eliminate complaining. The idea is that you wear the bracelet on one wrist, and when you complain, criticize, or gossip, you switch the bracelet to the other wrist. The goal is to try to go 21 consecutive days without complaining, criticizing, or gossipping out loud. (It doesn't count if it happens only in your head.) Bowen says that most people have to move their bracelet 15 to 20 times in the first few days, and soon it gets easier and easier. If you complain after 10 complaint-free days, you start all over again to aim for the 21 consecutive days.

Initially I was thinking I would try to not complain except about politics...but now I've decided I'm going to apply it to politics and religion as well. It doesn't mean that I won't occasionally post political or religious news on my blog, but I will try not to complain and let people draw their own conclusions. This might be the hardest part yet, in this current phase of political craziness.

But after all, isn't the whole purpose of this blog to point out that "every day is a miracle"? Instead of focusing on what is wrong, I will try to focus on what is right in both my world and the wider world.

Instead of ordering an official complaint-free purple silicone bracelet, I am wearing a prettier beaded purple bracelet that someone gave me (my sister? my mother? thank you, whoever you are!). So far I haven't had to move it, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

Already, I'm feeling more upbeat and positive...we'll see how long it lasts when something really sucky happens. :)

Stay tuned for a report. Every day is a miracle!


  1. OK! I'm going to try it too. Life is too short to focus on the negative. I think even those of us who consider ourselves to have a positive outlook on life complain. One of the things that frustrates me is that we complain about things, but then never do anything about them...uh oh, am I complaining? This is going to be harder than I thought! ;-)

  2. Yay! So glad to have a partner in the process, Lisa. I did pretty well yesterday, although I moved my bracelet a few times when I probably didn't need to (hadn't finished reading the book yet). For example, at work I told someone else that I was "disappointed" that someone hadn't called me back...and the author doesn't define that as complaining...it's expressing your feelings. It's definitely made me think more about how I'm reacting things and what I'm saying. Good luck!

    1. This might be easier for me because I work at home! I did just complain on FB about the Republican Party. I moved the bracelet to the other wrist. I think politics is going to be my weakness, as you suggested. Now if only I can extend this technique to not eating and drinking too much! I see an arm full of colored bangles!! :-)

  3. Funny, Marie...After the Ash Wed. service I was thinking of giving up complaining for Lent. I think sugar or chocolate would be lots easier. Mom

  4. You can join me! I'd be happy to lend you the book...it's a quick read.

  5. Sounds interesting. Good luck!