Day 1 of the Complaint-Free Diet: ‘Can’t complain’

Posted by on 01.30.08 | 5 Comments
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When I was in Denver earlier this month I had dinner with a friend of 17 years, Rudite. We worked together at hospice while I was in seminary. We don’t talk much in between when I visit Denver, but we always try to get together when I’m in town. I was 15 minutes late for dinner and she was reading a book when I got to the restaurant. It was ‘A Complaint Free World’ by Will Bowen. I hadn’t heard about the movement, but Rudite is always on the cutting edge of what’s happening in spiritual circles, and for some reason my usual resistance to the ‘newest thing’ was low that day (maybe it was a virus?). Anyway, I was intrigued as she told me about how the very simple, but supposedly effective program works. It’s a little kitschy, but I can stand a little kitsch for deeper joy, me thinks.

Scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit and complaining is habitual for most of us. As Mark Twain said, we must coax our old behavior down the stairs. The Complaint Free movement uses purple bracelets as a powerful tool to remind the wearer of how well s/he is doing with uncovering and/or removing negativity.

Here are the suggested guidelines (and it can be done with a rubber band in lieu of the pretty purple band):

Begin to wear the bracelet, on either wrist.

When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping or criticizing (it’s ok, everyone does) move the bracelet to the other arm and begin again.

If you hear someone else who is wearing a bracelet complain, you may point out their need to switch the bracelet to the other arm; BUT if you’re going to do this, you must move your bracelet first!

Stay with it. It may take many months but when you reach 21 days you will find that your entire life is happier, more loving and more enjoyable.

So today, my first day ‘on the job’ so to speak, was more like Complaint-Lite. It started when I took You Dog You out for his morning iditerod. Usually pretty enjoyable, but today it was in the low 20′s, snow blowing every which way, felt like the storms you see in the mid-west. It is You Dog You’s favorite weather, so he was all bouncy and happy. I was tempted to inwardly cuss the weather as my eyes watered and my nose hair froze, again. And then I remembered my vow of a few moments before as I woke up, “It’s going to be subtle, Beth. The easy ones are the gossip and stuff like that. It’s going to be the subtle stuff that trips you up.” Sure enough–here it was. Who wouldn’t be complaining about the weather as the dog and I slipped all over the sidewalk? Well, I caught that one and smiled, not very Buddha-like, but a smile none the less. But the day wore on. Too many emails (I’d been out of the office a day and a half). Too many pulls on my time. Too….and I caught myself thinking about ‘too’…just the word is a complaint. Dang it. And I went on through the day, smiling less as I caught myself in the act, but listening more closely to my thoughts and words.

Tomorrow (almost here) is a new day, Day 1 again. I have a stinkin feeling that this is going to be like Groundhog Day unless I get with the program.

So…here’s to tomorrow. And no complaining about my complaining…that’s how sneaky the compulsion can be.

“Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up—if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. ‘How dare you serve me cold soup…?’ That’s complaining.” —Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”

Check out the Complaint Free World website.

Got any thoughts or reactions, responses or…complaints? I promise not to give you a day-by-day expose, but I will keep you ‘posted’.

Beth, VTH Host

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