Complaint free in 21 days

Want to rid yourself of a habit, nasty or otherwise?  I decided to break the habit of complaining, based on an article called “Not Complaining” by Brother David Stendl-Rast in the journal Thirty Thousand Days.   I volunteered myself as a human subject for this experiment, signing all the releases and waivers of confidentiality required of participants in medical and psychological research, and began my quest to end a life of griping.

Bro. David says psychologists claim that it only takes 21 days to break a habit, so he bought a purple rubber bracelet with the inscription “A Complaint Free World” and then proceeded to complain.  The rule is that once you’ve groused, you move the bracelet to the other wrist and re-start your countdown.  I didn’t need to purchase a purple bracelet, because I already had one, albeit with a completely different slogan in Japanese.  I wore the bracelet with the shiny side out so the saying wouldn’t distract me.  My husband was the only one I told my reasons for wearing a shiny purple rubber bracelet.  During the first five days, I made a semi-complaint and asked him if I needed to transfer my bracelet, but he agreed that it wasn’t a solid complaint, not even a true whine, so the bracelet stayed in place on my left wrist even through exercising in 80-degree weather.

Frustrated that I couldn’t find anything to complain about, but not wanting to throw off the research results, I decided to find a second habit to break.  To eliminate worrying I adopted an orange and yellow rubber bracelet, “Sí, sí puede,” from a Latino student conference I organized years ago.  I didn’t worry about the color clash with purple, because I read in a fashion magazine at the hair salon that an army of bracelets crawling up the arm was this year’s accessories’ fashion statement.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to worry about for my two-bracelet week nor anything about which to complain, so I added, “eating chocolate” to my list of habits to change.  For that I had a green rubber bracelet with no legible inscription.  I didn’t have to worry about it not matching my other two bracelets, at least on alternate days, because I had to move it from wrist to wrist every day.  Eventually, the rubber bracelets became moist and sticky and I had to call the experiment to a halt for sanitary reasons. Bro. David says, “If you can’t change, you can’t grow.”  I find that despite my inability to change the habit of eating chocolate, I am growing.  That’s another reason I’m not wearing the bracelets.  They no longer fit.

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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5 Responses to Complaint free in 21 days

  1. Instead of labeling myself openly as somebody who may, per chance, complain often (apparently a trait I had as a baby, waking up crying daily…. the parents were warned), I’ve adopted being “a self-proclaimed optimist shrouded by realistic, rational critique”

  2. Pigeon Heart says:

    Rad. What a perfect challenge. An not just outwardly- shaking off complaints/ negativity inside as well. So inspiring! Keep up the good work!

  3. Jill Turnell says:

    I love it!!

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