How did this whole thing get started?

In July 2006 Rev. Will Bowen was teaching a series on Prosperity. Part of this series was helping the congregation to form a habit of gratitude by going 21-days without complaining. Studies show it takes 21 days for people to form a new habit. In an effort to make the lesson practical, the church purchased purple bracelets and gave them away encouraging them to move the bracelet to the other arm if they caught themselves complaining.

How do I use the purple bracelet to become a Complaint Free person?

Scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit and complaining is habitual for most of us. As Twain said, we must coax our old behavior down the stairs. The purple bracelet is a powerful tool to remind you of how well you are creating your life with positive intention. Here are the suggested rules:

  1. Begin to wear the bracelet, on either wrist
  2. When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping or criticizing (it’s ok, everyone does) move the bracelet to the other arm and begin again.  NOTE from Susan:  if you THINK a complaint, it’s a pass and you don’t have to move your bracelet.  But if you say it, it’s a complaint.
  3. 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 (pointing this out is complaining about complaining)!
  4. 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.  It takes most people between 4 and 10 months to go 21 consecutive days.

How do I know if I’m complaining?

To “Complain” is defined as “to express pain, grief, or discontent.” Surely, it makes sense to express pain, grief or discontent occasionally but most people do so constantly and habitually. In so doing, they are talking and thinking about what they do not want in their life and, thereby, attracting more pain, grief and discontent. As Rev. Bowen writes in The Complaint Free World book, they are an “ouch” looking for an injury.  Instead, think and talk about what you are grateful for. Talk about what you DO want and not what you DON’T want.  NOTE FROM SUSAN: with practice, I can feel the energy of a complaint even if the words are the same as stating a fact.  For example, if I can feel that I want sympathy or attention or I want something to be different than it is, it’s a complaint.

How often does the average person complain?

About 15 – 30 times each day.

How long should it take for me to become complaint free?

The average person who really gives this their best effort usually takes 4-10 months to go 21 consecutive days without complaining. This is not easy, but it’s worth it!  Stay with it!  NOTE FROM SUSAN:  And find complaint free buddies!!  I’ve set up a Complaint Free Community of Friends (CFCF) on Facebook as a way of sharing our stories and progress and supporting each other.  If you’d like to join us there, just let me know via the comment section!

If I think a complaint but don’t speak it do I have to move my bracelet?

No, only if you speak a complaint aloud should you move your bracelet to the other arm But you will find that the more you stop articulating your complaints the less complaining thoughts you have. Through this process you will reformat your mental hard drive and become a happier person.

How can we affect positive change without complaining?

Complaining spreads negative energy and negative energy cannot create a positive outcome. Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t stand before thousands in Washington, DC and shout, “Isn’t it awful how we’re being treated?” No. He shared his dream of a day when all children of all races would play and live together in peace and harmony. His vision galvanized our country and created positive change. For you to affect change, paint a bright vivid picture of the problem already solved and share this with as many people as you can.

Isn’t blowing off steam by complaining healthy?

Actually, studies have shown that complaining tends to make a person’s health worse.  NOTE FROM SUSAN:  In my experience, complaining has never ever led me to feeling happier, more peaceful or more connected.  It feels yucky.

How can I get someone else to stop complaining?

Follow the words of Ben Franklin, “The best sermon is a good example.” As you begin to transform your life by not complaining, you will be an example of positive living and this will inspire all around you. Moreover, because you’re not participating in the griping, others will be far less likely to gripe to you.

NOTE from Susan:  I recommend the book by Will Bowen, A Complaint Free World.  It’s easy to read and inspiring and I got it at the Charlottesville Library!  Go to to order bracelets and get more information including a widget to track your progress!   Please let me know how you’re doing and keep me posted on your progress via Facebook or email (! xoxo

  1. Hey! Thank you for clarifying the challenge 🙂 Hope you check out my blog too ( it’s called learnconstantly dot com )

  2. Brandon said:

    Hi, really nice overview of the challenge. I’d be interested in that Facebook group if you could invite me. Just started the challenge yesterday.

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