A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted / Will Bowen. (Doubleday, 2007) Hardcover, 176 p. ISBN 9780385524582
Like most people, I find constant grumbling and complaining annoying, but often fail to notice the number of complaints coming out of my own mouth. A Complaint Free World shows us how to reduce the amount of complaining in the world at the only source we can control: ourselves.
Author Will Bowen, a church pastor, aims to stop a specific kind of complaining. He writes, “Directing a comment to someone who can improve the situation is not complaining.” It might be called something like a consumer complaint and even be directed to an office of complaints. Most of our complaining, though, is futile griping in everyday conversation, impotently blowing off steam.
Some people become chronic complainers. Other people start to avoid them for the sake of sheer self-preservation. Alas, they are likely to complain about the complainer as soon as he or she is out of earshot. Chronic complaining is a contagious disease and a trap. In concentrating on what we don’t have that we think we deserve, it causes us to pay more attention to what’s wrong than to what’s right or what positive steps we can take to change the situation.
A Complaint Free World offers what seems like a simplistic solution. Bowen ordered purple wrist bands for everyone in his congregation and challenged them to wear it and try not to complain for three weeks. If they caught themselves complaining, they had to move the band to the other wrist.
Some discovered they had to move the band twenty times a day at first. Bowen himself broke three of them before he kicked the habit. As it turns out, three weeks is not enough. It takes the average person four to eight months of concentrated mindfulness to change from a person who unconsciously complains all the time to one who unconsciously responds to life’s irritations more positively and creatively. A Complaint Free World envisions what would happen if everyone would learn to stop complaining.
It’s not at all likely, of course, but people who successfully defeat the habit in themselves become happier than they had ever been before. One only needs determination, self-discipline, mindfulness, and some little ritual to perform as a consequence of lapsing into complaining. All-Purpose Guru Alert offers bargain books at discount prices, usually half price or less, and features a different, carefully selected title every day.