My friend Jean is wearing a purple complaint-free world bracelet. "Complaint free world" ( you can google it and find their web site) is a movement to curtail complaining. The idea as I understand it, is to become conscious of how often you complain by moving your purple bracelet from one wrist to the other every time you complain (Any bracelet or wrist twine will do. You don't need the official purple bracelet). The goal is to be complaint-free for 21 days. This includes not gossiping.
A complaint has to be verbal to "count." Your thoughts don't count.
Statements of facts are not complaints if stated neutrally. According to the Web site, saying to a waiter, "my soup is cold," is a fact; however, saying, "How dare you serve me cold soup" is a complaint. Saying we are in a recession is a fact (it doesn't make us a nation of whiners) but saying, "I can't believe we keep having these awful recessions" does. By stating facts, we are free to speak truth to power.
The value of not complaining, according to the Web site, comes from the reduction of "negative energy" generated by complaints and the increase in positive energy. The concept was started by a Christian pastor, so this is not supposed to be New Age mumbo jumbo. It's more, from what I can gather, a variant of Norman Vincent Peale's power of positive thinking. Another idea behind the movement is to realize that much of what we complain about is completely trivial and that we have more to be grateful for than we often acknowledge.
I'm intrigued with the challenge, seemingly almost impossible, of not complaining for 21 days. I know I complain too much. I also know that people who are always negative or always complaining can drag others down.
On the other hand, complaining is often a form of social exchange, an icebreaker that says, "I'm like you; I'm not above it all." Complaining about the weather, the President, the woes of the world, can a be a way for people to draw together and feel safe with one another. The freedom to complain implies a certain degree of intimacy (you wouldn't, for example, complain on a job interview).
Jean commented that people at her workplace have noticed her almost Pollyanna-ish cheeriness and have not necessarily liked it. Being consistently positive carries the risk of being irritating. It's a tricky business, this no complaining.
Finally, not complaining is not going to solve the world's problems all by itself. But it might make problems seem more solvable.
What do you think? Is "complaint free world" something you would be willing to embrace?