Editors’ Blog

Weird Job: The anti-Debbie Downer or Bob Bummer…

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

By kathy

I complain a lot. Hey, I’m just being honest. In fact, I sent an e-mail yesterday to our fearless leader Larry Smith about why I wasn’t blogging. Something about my sink exploding, hot water gushing, hot water flooding part of my kitchen, yoga teacher training, yoga teacher training graduation day…. OK, you get my drift. And I do yoga, people!

I just read a great article in The Christian Science Monitor about a man who decided he was sick of everyone’s “wah-wahs” so he decided to do something about it. Not an easy thing to tackle I imagine, but as it turns out Rev. Will Bowen is having some success—he even got Oprah to jump on this bandwagon!

Bowen says the reason the world is the way it is and we are the way we are is because we moan too much; I think the Monitor used the words, “global grousing” to describe the problem. So, he challenged his congregation to give up complaining for 21 days. Parishioners received a purple bracelet (think: Lance Armstrong) and every time they complained, they swapped the bracelet to the other wrist, thus reminding themselves how often they “wah-wah’d.” Says the Monitor:

Bowen says that the main reason people complain is to excuse themselves from taking action. People encounter things they don’t like and they complain because it’s easier than finding a solution. Or they complain as a way of bragging or showing their sophistication.

Bowen was the first of his congregation to go 21 days without complaining (gossiping and sarcasm are no-nos, too). It took him about 10 weeks, which is pretty fast. He says it takes most people four to 10 months to make it for three straight weeks. “The average person complains 20 to 30 times a day and I was at the high end of that,” he says. “Now I may complain two or three times a month. But I catch myself.”

Bowen’s efforts were so catchy, that he formed a nonprofit organization (and thus, he’s eligible for Weird Job status), A Complaint Free World, to help fill orders for those purple bracelets (you can thank Oprah for the increase in bracelets). He also has a book, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted. Next up for Bowen: a school curriculum, a corporate seminar, a “complaint-free cruise.”

I challenge you: how long can you go without complaining? I can’t play this game in the winter. Sorry.

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One response

  1. Mirage says:

    People complain about people who complain too much. How many comments left in “Leave Comments Here” boxes are really comments? Mostly complaints. I do believe that complaining does often come from a place of fear and helplessness and that instead of complaining so much, people really need to look at what actions they could maybe take to change a situation. I do think we need to become more proactive and empowered as a nation. We tend to play the victim card all too often. However, I do believe that there can be a sort of uniting force that can give some people the gall to DO something about what they are complaining about. When they receive support for their complaints in the form of folks who agree with them, it can empower them in some instances to try to make a change. Sometimes. I am just thinking of how a lot of movements that inspired some really positive changes got started. Civil rights, equal treatment at work, unions. People probably did a lot of grumbling at first, and when people realized they weren’t alone, they banned together to change the situation. Now this leads me to want to qualify complaining. It could be argued that there are different forms of complaining. Complaining about stuff you have no real control over is pretty silly. Like the weather. But if you think about it, how does the average person make small talk anyway? Complaints usually. “Hot enough for ya?” “Geez, it’s freezing out there!” We really are a nation of complainers! It seems to be the glue that keeps people together. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. If we all tried to live with more appreciation and share our joy more, just think! Me? I am positively going to begin to take more responsibility for what I complain about. It’s one thing to be a whiner who always complains about the same things over and over than to be one who can move on with their lives by making the necessary adjustments to one’s life so you don’t need to feel negative about the same things all the time.

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