Summary: An invitation is presented to accept a 21 day challenge, and embark upon a complaint-free life and help build a complaint free church and a complaint free world—one person at a time.
I know how easy it is to complain, to find dissatisfaction with a situation or circumstance. In the 1970s, TV’s Saturday Night Live program, one of their skits involved "The Whiner Family." Anybody remember that skit? The family members spoke with a grating, irritating whine. When they engaged in a conversation, the sounds of their voices were annoying. Wendy Whiner, the wife, was a nasally-pitched woman who, with her equally whiny husband, annoyed everyone they met. They both claimed to suffer from diverticulitis, and neither would eat anything but macaroni and cheese.
Or there was Debbie Downer, another character on Saturday Night Live. The character’s name is connected to a phrase which refers to someone who has a persistent need to add bad news or negative feelings to a gathering, thus bringing down the mood of everyone around them.
The Debbie Downer character would make these types of negative opinions and pronouncements at every turn, making her very unpopular to be around. She was oddly and especially concerned with the epidemic of feline AIDS, which is, as she put it, "the number one killer of domestic cats".
What made these skits so funny was that all of us have met constant whiners -- you know, those folks who never have a positive thing to say about themselves or anyone else? And most of all the skits remind us of ourselves—we have met the enemy and it is us!
I’m better at not complaining than I use to be. But on my not-so-great days I still am I’m still going on to perfection to quote John Wesley, Our Methodist forefather. My desire is to have more frequent better days where I try to live differently. My heart’s desire is to live more days during which I try to find the pieces of my experiences that I can appreciate rather than complain about. As I was reading news services online, I was recently challenged in my thinking to more intentionally embark on a journey towards living without complaint when I began to read about what a preacher in Kansas City decided to do in his church.
I ran across service new reports about the Reverend Will Bowen, pastor of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Missouri. In his reading, Rev. Bowen ran across Maya Angelou’s comment, “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain." Apparently after reading this, the Reverend Bowen had a simple idea that he shared with his congregation, “Just stop complaining.” And to help his congregation remember to stop the complaints, he offered each one of them a purple bracelet stamped with the word spirit. The challenge—go 21 days without mumbling a complaining word and no gossiping or criticizing either.
Why 21 days? Scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit and complaining is habitual for most of us. As Mark Twain said, “Habit is habit and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” The bracelet then serves as a powerful tool to remind you of how well you are crafting your life with “positive intention,” as the Reverend Bowen calls it.
"When you’re focusing your attention on what’s wrong or complaining, you’re going to get more of what you’re complaining about," Bowen says. "Complaining draws all of its essence from negativity. When you complain, you do it typically to attract attention or sympathy. It’s you saying, ’There’s something wrong with me.’
"You’re sending out this vibrational energy into the universe that you’re a victim, and the universe responds with more negativity."
What started with a challenge from one pastor to his congregation is spreading throughout the religious world... and beyond. Since reading about what happened at Christ Church in Kansas City I have tried to renewed my intention to not complain and am becoming more aware of the blessings of my life, despite some difficult and challenging situations at times.
Now when I first donned my purple bracelet I assumed that it would be easy to stop complaining. I thought I could not say anything that might be construed as a complaint. That’s simple, isn’t it? Just hold my tongue. On the surface, it sure is. But the spiritual challenge isn’t to simply stop complaining; rather it is to begin to find new appreciation in everyday life experiences—especially those ones where I tend to complain automatically with little thought.
For example—see if you see yourself in any of these attitudes:
Did someone cut you off on the road this morning—how did you react?
Did someone drive too slow in front of you—making you think you we’re going to be late getting to the church?
Was your coffee a little too hot? Or a little too cold? Oh I hate it when my coffee is just not at the right temperature.