Going Complaint Free

Darn it. I want to express my reservations about movements like Kansas City minister Will Bowen's A Complaint-Free World, but to do so would be complaining and that's what the movement is trying to stop. Since I haven't received my complaint-free bracelet yet .... or the book ... or the t-shirt .... I guess I'm still in the clear though.

The basic concept is hard to argue with:
"Your thoughts create your world and your words indicate your thoughts. When you eliminate complaining from your life will you enjoy happier relationships, better health and greater prosperity. This simple program helps you set a trap for your own negativity and redirect your mind towards a more positive and rewarding life."
So can you go 21 days without complaining? To help you with the effort, you buy a purple complaint-free wristband (they are only a buck) to wear. If you voice a complaint you place it on your other arm and reset your 21-day clock. And joila, "transform your words and transform your life."

Despite what I think is an interesting and worthwhile concept, they've wrapped it in the standard issue speaker circuit business enterprise .... and it is a huge one. It works under the best internet model: offer a few items at very low cost and then let volume generate major money. The site does say though that "all donations as well as proceeds from products are used to provide complaint free bracelets for those who cannot afford them as well as for schools, churches, hospitals, prisons, drug rehab centers and other nonprofits and deserving organizations." Call me a tad skeptical.

But still, I struggle with the cheesy speaker photo and the fact they are selling bumper stickers. It's all from the stock template of "How to Turn Your Idea Into a Movement, Make Money, and Get Worldwide Attention." (Contact me if you'd like to order that bracelet or t-shirt).

I'm all for eliminating unnecessary negative energy in your life and the lives of others and generally try to model that belief in my own actions and words. But complaints raise issues and concerns and often lead to desirable change. Remember the popular book, A Complaint is a Gift?

Needless whining or venting? Slap a bracelet on the person.

Insightful negative observation? Listen closely and see if you can unearth a potential innovation or positive change waiting to be heard and discovered.


Jay Karen said...

Great commentary. I shared this with my staff. We tend to have some loud complainers in the association, and I've noticed our staff doesn't always react well to it. They get defensive way too quickly. I've only been on board here for 5 months, but I've already discovered several opportunities by listening a little more closely to the complaints.

Jay Karen

Kerry Stackpole said...

First there was the "swift-boating" of national character and now it looks like emotion is up next. While I am all for positive thinking (and keeping whining in life to a minimum) turning our world into a complaint-free zone seems akin to declaring popcorn the national vegetable. Just think, if Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Hancock and those other fellows hadn't complained about unfair taxes and burdensome rule by a distant monarchy we could all be British citizens. Who'd complain about that? Some ideas are just too bad to be true. Am I complaining? No way.

Joan Eisenstodt said...

Kvetching is healthy in many cases and I don't think there is enough of it - really. Isn't voting a form of complaining? You don't like the status quo so your vote 'agin' is a complaint? You think, for example, that the US Exec. and Legislative branches are making mistakes - shouldn't you say so? Isn't that kvetching?

In a work setting, I think Jay's comments are the key: we need to know how to accept the kvetching and ask questions to turn it around or to clarify v. being defensive.

And about the photo? What IS it w/ hands on chins that is s'posed to be so appealing?

Anonymous said...


I find I have to forcibly drop ten IQ points to stay complaint free. And I just don't have that many IQ points to spare. Yes, it is important to mental and physical health to stay positive and find the lesson and bright side in experieinces. But I just can't adhere to "secrets" or "laws of attraction" as a road to "fufillment." I'd lean toward saying "Purpose" brings a lasting sense of self far better than motivation by aspirational thoughts. I'd recommend individuals avoid a bracelet and instead find a job worth doing - and then doing it well!

Rick Morat

Dave C said...

A few comments -
Who is the current 'thought leader' in this area ... 30 years ago it was Mary Tyler Moore - but who is it today? Spongebob?

"hand on chin" comment - talk to Rodin - he started all of that business AND how else would the bracelet have gotten into the photo. : )

Actually, I like the idea of being more positive - but I agree that a lot of pearls come from the irritation caused by a legitimate complaint. The whole idea of going complaint free is a tad too 'Up With People" for me.

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