Monday, September 1, 2014

A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen

It was big news back in 2006 to 2007 when a Kansas City church challenged its members, and the eventually the world, to stop complaining. The pastor, Will Bowen who authored A Complaint Free World, appeared on Oprah. The method was simple. Wear a purple bracelet; every time you complain, switch the bracelet from one wrist to the other. When you manage to go 21 days without speaking a complaint (it will take months for most people), you form habits that reduce even your complaining thoughts. A rubber band, a token you switch from pocket to pocket, or similar reminder will do the trick.

Complaining is talking about what we don’t want instead of what we want. This is important in Bowen’s view because our words are a reflection of our thoughts and, as Earl Nightingale put it, “We become what we think about.” Complaining creates in our lives more of what we complain about. When we start thinking more about what we want, we’ll get more of what we want.

Why do we complain? We do it to get sympathy, to avoid something we don’t want to do, to demonstrate our sophistication, or even as a way of bragging.

Bowen gives several reasons to quit complaining. One is health. He cites a study that indicates complaining makes us sick; as much as two-thirds of illness is psychological in origin. In addition, complaining about others (criticism) is rarely works to change them; people respond to appreciation. Even great social movements that started in deep dissatisfaction moved forward by showing a positive vision of the world as it could be.

I visited the web site established for the movement, AComplaintFreeWorld.org. It looks like they no longer give out free purple bracelets, but you can order them or get a free widget.

The notion of becoming what you think is in line with Bowens faith. This is a teaching of Unity, a religion founded in Kansas City. (Incidentally, I used to work in Lee’s Summit a short distance from the organization’s headquarters in Unity Village.) Though Unity expresses esteem for the Bible and Jesus Christ, it’s teachings about the nature of God, the Bible, Jesus, the notion of Christ, and the relationship of man and God is very different from traditional Christianity.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in


Bowen, Will. A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. New York: Doubleday, 2007.