I started my 21-day Complaint Free Challenge before I even bought the book. I figured I could define complaining myself, just slip on any bracelet and do it! Turns out, it works exactly like that. Of course any bracelet will do. It doesn’t take a purple bracelet to stop complaining. But since Will Bowen is a #1 International Bestselling author and over 3 million copies of A Complaint Free World were sold, I figured this one would be worth reading anyway.
In the first chapter Will’s voice coming out of my earphones tells me I’m going to learn the secret to transforming my life. He himself calls them big words, but he says they work. Although never a big fan of such big words (and sweet talk) – I consider myself to be quite skeptical – I decided the book must contain some things for me to learn.
Since I travel around a lot I purchased the audio-book, which unfortunately made me miss out on the purple bracelet. I’m gonna have to do with a beautiful green one (to which my young Chinese students still invariably point, whenever I ask them to ‘show me something GREY’). Although the bracelets are not be given out for free anymore, you can still order them here if you feel like you can’t do without.
Apparently, the Complaint Free World concept found it’s way into our world in the summer of 2006. Will realized that it’s important to focus on what we want in our lives rather than on what we don’t want. Because we all know: what we focus our attention on expands. Hence, less complaining and more gratitude. Also, it takes 21 days for new behavior to turn into a habit. Hence, the 21-day No Complaint Challenge!
Pretty soon I already feel inspired by the many given inspirational quotes (because that’s what inspirational quotes normally tend to do: inspire). My personal favorite one:
You are today where your thoughts have brought you,
you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.
– James Allen
The many quotes and facts in the book will make you feel determined to commit to this challenge and at least for me, serve as a great motivational coach. I don’t just have one coach though. I followed Will’s advice and asked one of my best friends here in Shanghai to be my buddy. She’s not joining me in this challenge (she is in another!), but she let’s me know when I’m complaining but not aware. Now, a few weeks later, (I’m still complaining, but more about that later), she just needs to have one short look at my bracelet and I know exactly what time it is. Time to change it to my other wrist, again..
Luckily Will tells me this is normal and as mentioned before in my other post ’21 Days Complaint Free’, the average time people need to reach day 21 is up to 8 months. One of his stories got stuck in my head and whenever I feel like the universe is not even close to working with me on this challenge, I just think ‘Time in the saddle’. Practice, practice, practice more and stick with it. Keep trying. Keep trying a little more and eventually you’ll get there. This approach not only works for me in this situation, but also for me and other’s around me as we start our own businesses and sometimes feel like we’re doing something impossible. It’s not impossible, it’s just not that easy. Ladies and gentlemen: Time-in-the-saddle!
Effects of (not) complaining
The book explains in a very clear way what negative effects complaining has; and what positive effects arise when we stop to complain. The facts about gratefulness – the opposite of complaints -, the benefits of complaining, the relation between complaining and our health, relationships and self esteem: the book covers it. Most things are not new to me, which could have something to do with my psychology studies and the fact that this book was written 11 years ago. Nevertheless, it feels good to be made aware of the facts every now and then.
Final notes on the book
In this book, churches are mentioned every now and then. This might be due to the fact that Will was (or is?) the lead minister at Christ Church Unity in Kansas City. Since I’m not religious, this doesn’t mean a lot to me. The things said about them though, are applicable to other people and situations too. That’s why it isn’t bothersome to me.
Furthermore, I don’t agree on everything he says. Which, seen the fact that we’re not the same person, is very logical. For example: In his opinion, telling someone (s)he is complaining, would be complaining (read the book to find out more about his reasons). For me, I see it as all other things we say: When stated as an objective fact and without the negative affect, I’ll not see it as a complaint. To read more about my ‘guidelines’, read this.
Overall, I think the books gives us a lot of quotes, facts and stories that make you realize what you are doing. And that, even though we often don’t even notice or realize, complaining is actually a pretty destructive habit. It doesn’t make you a happier person. It doesn’t change your situation. And it certainly doesn’t make your future better. Some of the stories make you realize this, and some of the stories make you happier and more grateful immediately.
First of all: I started this challenge a little over 2 weeks ago and I’m still on day 1. Which means I didn’t make it for even ONE day without complaining yet. It’s not easy, but even though I never saw day 2, many things have changed.
The very first thing that happened after I put on my bracelet will be a memorable one. I remember me going through my entire first morning and afternoon without complaining. I had lunch with a friend and I was telling her how easy it was for me, since, I found out, I think before I say. By the end of the afternoon I arrived at work and that’s where it started: the one complaint after another slipped out and I was struggling. The second day, exact same thing. It was then and there I realized: something has to change. Apparently something about my work is making it nearly impossible for me to not complain and I suddenly wondered why I kept myself in that situation. Because clearly I wasn’t content. I’d been complaining about it for a wile and never took any action. Thus, nothing changed. I decided this time would be different. A few days later I quit my job and planned to go travel for the next indefinite amount of time. I started to build my own website and expand my career as freelance translator. Ever since, I’ve been telling people how great life is.
Other things started to happen too. I’m generally quite skeptical, so when Will first started to speak about sending positive thought into the universe, I didn’t buy it. I eventually just decided to try it out for fun and realized something díd change. If it’s really the universe answering, I can’t tell you for sure.. But definitely something about my mindset changed.
More often than not I’m now very optimistic about outcomes. Where I used worry about if it might rain, if I would get that job, if the bus would be on time; I now just say ‘Of course! Of course it will work out. I will have that luck and it will be great.’ And honestly, it works. I’m less stressed, more relaxed and much happier. I even tell my boyfriend to be quiet if he worries about if some work thing will work out. I then just send some positive thoughts out for him. Because of course it will work out 🙂
If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
– My mom and Will Bowen
If you’re interested, you can order the book here, and I’ll get a small commission out of it with no costs for you 🙂 Contact me if you have any questions.