Little Miss Sunshine

complaining1

An end to whinging?

Ill admit it. Even though I try to set a good (okay, passable) example of behaviour for my kids to follow, I am sometimes guilty of whinging. Most mornings within the first five minutes of waking, I manage to clock up a few complaints. ˜Why cant you eat with mouth closed?  ˜How many times do I have to ask you to feed the dog, pick up after yourselves, clean your teeth?

I have a tone and Im not proud of it. And I have tried to stop … many times.

Stamping out complaining

Then, lo and behold, one morning, I stumbled upon Will Bowens website. Bowen, a Kansas City minister started a worldwide movement in 2006 when he suggested his congregation eradicate complaining from their lives.  Apparently, the average person complains about fifteen to thirty times a day. (I knew I wasnt alone!) His philosophy sounds simple enough: stamp out whinging and youll do a good job of stamping out negativity (and set an excellent example of behaviour for your children to follow, presumably.)

The challenge? No complaining, gossiping or criticising for twenty-one days straight … thats three whole weeks!  The idea being that if you can go without whinging for three weeks, youll have changed your pattern of behaviour and effectively be cured!

Band aid

One of the props is a purple wrist band that is worn on your wrist (hey! I catch on quick) and every time you complain or think about complaining, you switch the band to the other wrist”kind of like the torturous rubber band technique where when you swear or go to swear you ping yourself, thus causing great pain and a visible red welt on your wrist as a sad and sore reminder. Whether training ourselves not to swear or complain, clearly the idea is to have the band stay on the same arm for the duration of the exercise. And beyond.

Positively popular

The idea caught on and in 2007, Bowen published a book called A Complaint Free World. These days, according to his website, aptly titled www. acomplaintfreeworld.org, there are well over six million wristbands distributed in 106 countries. Bowens second book, Complaint Free Relationships, will be published in October. (Id definitely like to see that!)

So, why do we whinge?

According to Bowen, people complain for a number of reasons including:

  • Emotional connection and to be accepted within our social group: ˜What about this terrible weather?
  • To avoid taking action: ˜I hate the litter on the streets but what can you do?
  • To pre-excuse poor behaviour: ˜Im in a foul mood because…,
  • And as a form of bragging: ˜I am a better person than he is because….  

As the old saying goes, negativity breeds negativity. So if youre a whinger, chances are the people around you are complainers as well. Likewise, if youre seen as upbeat, positive people will gravitate towards you and seek out your friendship.

 Going cold turkey

Bowen says that the average person who gives it their best effort to stop complaining usually takes between four and ten months to go twenty-one consecutive days without complaining.Thats quite a commitment. But it got me thinking. I could use the bracelet technique to try and control a number of my sins. Nail biting, ping! Eating one too many Tim Tams, ping!  An extra glass of wine, ping!

I quite like the idea. Its just that Id have to wear so many coloured rubber bands on my wrist Id forget what they all represented. Either way, I guess I could just keep flicking myself when I step out of line.

Lisa Heidke’s new book is available December 2009

image002www.lisaheidke.com

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