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"Are ya kidding me?!" No complaints for 21 days

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Staff member
Are ya kidding me?! No complaints for 21 days

By George Lewis
NBC News correspondent

KANSAS CITY, MO. - We all complain, right? It’s just human nature. But a few months ago, the pastor of a Kansas City church told the people in his congregation he wanted them to break that habit.“The one thing we can agree on,” said the Reverend Will Bowen of Christ Church Unity, “is there’s too much complaining.”

He said churchgoers were griping mainly about trivial things, such as the choice of hymns at the Sunday service or the informal dress code at the church’s Saturday night worship.

And so he asked his flock to take a pledge: to swear off complaining, criticizing, gossiping or using sarcasm for 21 days. The Rev. Bowen said the inspiration for the no-complaints campaign came to him while taking a shower. And now, the idea has begun to spread far beyond middle America.
People who join in are issued little purple bracelets as a reminder of their pledge. If they catch themselves complaining, they’re supposed to take off the bracelet, switch it to the opposite wrist and start counting the days from scratch.

And now that the church has been written up in several publications, the campaign has mushroomed. On Saturdays, volunteers crowd the church basement filling orders for the no-complaints bracelets, 126,000 so far.
I wondered how hard it would be, so I put on one of the bracelets and started counting the days. And I didn’t complain when my TODAY show producer mounted a camera in my office to record my every working moment, trying to catch me in the act of griping about something or other. (It turns out it’s the same equipment that “Dateline NBC” uses on its “To Catch a Predator” segments.)

It only took two hours for the camera to catch a complainer — me — when my computer crashed and I uttered an expletive that we won’t repeat here. Then, after work that day, I caught myself complaining about a news item I heard on the radio on the drive home. Day one ended with two relapses.
Day two, I complained about my shoulder hurting. (No, I didn’t wrench it switching that bracelet back and forth.) I was discovering what everyone who takes the pledge finds out: that going 21 days without complaining isn’t as easy as it seems at first blush.

The Rev. Bowen said it took him three and a half months to put together 21 complaint-free days, and that it has taken others up to seven months. Those who get through it can turn in their bracelets in exchange for “certificates of happiness” issued during church services.

“We’re going to be the center of no complaining around the world,” said the Rev. Bowen, who added that they’ve gotten requests for bracelets from as far away as South Africa and Australia. Some American troops in Iraq, a place where there are plenty of things to complain about, have even asked for them. The church has set up a Web site, acomplaintfreeworld.org, to facilitate orders for bracelets, offered free of charge.

The Rev. Bowen figures that if the average person complains 20 times a day for 30 days, the 126,000 bracelets have stopped millions and millions of complaints. “That’s a lot less ear pollution,” he said, grinning.

“My life is a whole lot better than it was six months ago,” said church volunteer Patricia Platt. A teacher, she decided to ask her grade school pupils to take the no-complaints pledge along with her.

“It was really hard for me,” said a boy in her classroom, “because I’ve got two sisters, one twelve and one thirteen and they are both,” he paused and sighed, “really mean!”

Indeed, as we spoke to the children in the classroom, they often cited sibling rivalries as a big stumbling block. But Mrs. Platt said most of the children have successfully completed the 21 days.

“I think we learn to complain as we get older,” she said, noting that it took her four months to fulfill the pledge, while her pupils did it a lot faster.
Experts disagree about whether suppressing complaints is good for one’s mental health. “If people don’t need to complain, don’t want to, then great,” said Barbara Held, a psychologist and author of the book, “Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching.” “But if they do, there are ways to do it more productively and more beneficially and what’s wrong with that?”

But the Rev. Bowen believes that tamping down the urge to complain is akin to successful anger management. “You catch yourself not articulating these negative thoughts that are in your head,” he said, “and because there’s no place for that to flow, they tend to dry up.”

I’m still waiting for those negative thoughts to dry up. As of this writing, I’ve had eight relapses, with my longest complaint-free period lasting five days. I’m continuing the effort as I head off to Israel on assignment and will keep you posted if and when I make it to the 21-day mark.
Staff member
This is odd. 27 members as of current have read this and not responded. Just curious why :smile:

Its convicting in a great way otherwise (article itself)
Staff member
I did not know you were looking for response to this article. It was very interesting reading and I was just reminded of a scripture which is this one:

Shining as Stars
12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. 17But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. 18So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

So it is a command in the Bible and one which is hard to do.

Yet I recall that there were those in the Bible who did complain. Some of them wandered the wilderness after complaining against God.

God bless :love: :rainbow: :rose:
Staff member
My question is, why only 21 days? Why not forever? I know that's impossible. I feel God telling me to do the same. Great article!
I think the 21 days is based on the saying (which is probably true) that if you do something for 21 days, it becomes a habit.
New Member
This is odd. 27 members as of current have read this and not responded. Just curious why :smile:

Its convicting in a great way otherwise (article itself)
Yes it is, I don't care too much for the rest of the article content, the bracelet and the certificate stuff.

But I actually read this article the other day and didn't respond immediately and just thought about if for some time. In fact I had to drive my son to the dentist, and during the journey I was thinking about the whole thing of not complaining for 21 days, and I was taking note of how much complaining I do personally.

I thought maybe I don't complain that much! Well just driving to the dentist, I moaned about the traffic being slow, complaining...right? and how far we had to drive to the dentist, then I noticed the gas prices!!!! Oh and my favourite radio channel signal kept fading in and out, and I was getting annoyed with it. I believe these are all variations of complaining.
I started to discuss the subject with my son Aaron, he also started whining about the shops in the area, that they didn't have what he was looking for. I mean we really say negative things, or complain and don't even realize it.

I personally think it wouldn't be a bad thing to attempt. Why not? It might be a HUGE eyeopener to many of us, to see how much we speak words of death and not of life.

:shade: Calluna
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Loyal Member
This is odd. 27 members as of current have read this and not responded. Just curious why :smile:
Its convicting in a great way otherwise (article itself
Guilty I stand, for not replying.
I did read it and found it to be very interesting,I'm not sure why I didnt respond.

I know I tried it then, but if one was to read my journal, I'm sure I failed.
So today is day one.

To God be the glory.

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Loyal Member
Day one....

Lord I ask that you create in me a clean heart, remove all my yesterdays, let your glory fall on me on this journey to attain a deeper walk. Renew my mind.
Help me to apply the mind of Christ.
Bless me with patience, forgiveness and help me to love those that attack me.

Its March 21st..2008
May God be with me as I start the clock.
New Member


This is definitely worth trying, it can only improve ones life by becoming more positive.

I'm also going to try although I will not set myself a time limit it will only put me under pressure and when I am I found myself to be stressed and doing things without thinking.

I will just practise it day to day untill I do the best I can.

Thanks Chad it is a great and positive inspiration.
New Member
This is definitely worth trying, it can only improve ones life by becoming more positive.
Honestly, I was complaining to God for someone's trait in my mind before I found this thread. The complaint just started an hour ago after I woke up, an hour ago after I said my prayer for the day. What a test!

But after I read this article, I considered it positive since it's a privilege to communicate with the Lord, spirit to Spirit. A never ending devotion with Him. Surrending all the complaints and more complaints to come silently to Him alone...

So, today I'll just smile my complaints away and do my best to be a channel of blessing for God's glory instead Praise the L:wink:ord!

Thanks Brother Chad!:star:
.......No Complaints for 21 Days?

Though I've not tried the 21 day thing, I do believe that my complaining has been drastically reduced as I've grown spiritually since receiving Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1983. This indicates that the level of my complaining is directly proportional to my commitment to Christ.

If I am complaining a lot, that's a signal that at that moment or on that day, my life is centered on me and not on the Lord. When my life is centered on Jesus, as the old hymn tells us, the things of the world go strangely dim because He is in control instead of my selfish, self centered flesh and the things that would normally rankle me have lost much of their allure.

Staff member
One thing I've learned over the years since I accepted Christ is how annoying and selfish complaining can be, especially when you live in America like I do. Its not to say every American is selfish and a whiner, but the truth is this country is greatly spoiled no matter how you look at it. That's what happens when you get "rich". We're a rich country, and spoiled. The worst part is, people still complain endlessly without any gratefulness, without any thankfulness, without any good hearted appreciation for what GOD has done for them. People totally disregard those outside their views who are desperately, even deathly lacking food, home, clothing and good health. Those who suffer outside this country for the most part.

So complaining as we know is in fact a sin. No exceptions, no reason to explain your issues. We all complain, but as anything else while growing in Christ - there must come an end to all sins.
I think the problem everywhere is that we became very *relaxed*, we try to get ourself feeling very very comfortable, claiming it as kings and queens of this world, but when it comes to the bottom line, we are extremly lost and empty deep inside us and we feel bored and wonder why!

There was this book that was made into a movie, based on a true story" Deep into the wild "
about a young rich guy who left his everything and wandered alone travelling and eating just anything and sleeping in a bus!
He left everything behind him because it had no meaning...
Until he died all alone and young.

We truly are very spoiled and relaxed, we crave for this fancy touch and anything that we preceive with any kinds of value!
New Member
Yes, how He speaks to my heart. My complaints are selfish, selfcentered, and unkind I have let my thoughts, my tongue drag me down my flesh my self these past several days and so much longer. How can they see Jesus when I am "me". Thank you for this post. Praise Him.
New Member
I think it's amazing
I've just come across this thread, and thought I don't think I complain that much, that was only 5 mins before I complained.

Jesus never complained, so we really need to be in His likeness.
I think it doesn't get brought to our attention, until something like this.

I'm going to try to be more aware of it in future, but we do need to call upon the power of the Holy Spirit for endurance.

I had begun saying 'am I complaining or making a comment' think I was trying to find a way out.

here goes.
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