The Rev. Will Bowen from Kansas City, MO, thought that there was a lot of unnecessary complaining going on in his church. Realizing that by pointing a finger at his congregation, he was pointing three more fingers at himself, he decided that he was as guilty of complaining as anyone in his church. He came up with a plan.
Rev. Bowen challenged the congregation to go 21 days straight without mumbling a complaining word, including gossiping and criticizing. To remind them of the task, he passed out purple bracelets imprinted with the word "spirit." If anyone forgot their pledge and complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start anew.
Most of the congregants, including the Reverend discovered that this was far more difficult than they had imagined. Rev. Bowen was the first to complete the 21 days, although it took him nearly two months to reach his goal. He, also, said that he thought a 3 day silent retreat contributed to his success.
Some congregants gave up and said it was too difficult. Most persevered, and those that did said that their lives were more enjoyable. Many said that they always thought they were very positive people until they slipped on that wristband. Then they began to notice how often they complained.
The church adopted a quote from poet, Maya Angelou, as its motto: "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."
This doesn't mean that you should never speak up if something is wrong. Rev. Bowen points out that there is a difference between a factual statement and complaining. Saying, "That was a big snowstorm the other evening," is fine, but saying, "I hate snow! Why does it have to snow? It's awful!" is complaining.
Rev. Bowen set 21 as the number of days, because he had read that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. He is hopeful that if enough people make "not complaining" a habit, it will eventually lead to "a complaint-free world." In fact those words are now imprinted on the bracelets instead of the word, "Spirit."
"Mignon Bullington of Camarillo, Calif., who ordered bracelets for her family, said the complaint-free challenge 'struck strong emotions' in her. 'I noticed that when my husband and I were being negative about any such subject, our kids (ages 19, 17 and 11) would chime in,' she said. 'How horrible that is to see and realize how our children are being taught to act, react and live.'
If this idea strikes a chord with you, visit the website.
You can even find a 10-lesson curriculum designed for kids grades K-12.