A while ago, I noticed that Pastor Sam Duncan, of Lansing Church of God in Christ, had a purple rubber bracelet on his arm. When I asked about it, he told me about the Complaint-Free World project. Based on a book by Will Bowen, the project aims to create a world of positive cooperation. It starts with a purple bracelet. Because theory says to change a habit takes about 21 days, you put a purple bracelet on your left wrist. The goal is to keep it there for 21 days. The only problem is, if you complain, gossip or criticize, you have to move it to the other wrist and start over again.
This is not to end positive work for change, or to become a doormat. As Eckhart Tolle says, "Complaining is not to be confused with informing someone of a mistake or deficiency so that it can be put right. And to refrain from complaining doesn’t necessarily mean putting up with bad quality or behavior. There is no ego in telling the waiter your soup is cold and needs to be heated up—if you stick to the facts, which are always neutral. ‘How dare you serve me cold soup…?’ That’s complaining.”
Lately, I have found it all too easy to take the complaining route instead of the positive change route. It is fun to complain about the weather, the students, the economy, the people who cut in front of me at Meijer, the people who don't pick up after their dogs, people who don't think like me or who don't like the same things I do. It is easy to find fault with others, instead of looking for fault in myself. And it is way too easy to join in with a group of others to tear down some other person or some other project, rather than to build it up.
So Pastor Duncan brought me a bag of purple bracelets. I am on day 1. I have about 30 more bracelets to share with anyone else who might want to try this experiment.
In the meantime, before I open my mouth, I'm giving it the complaint-free test: Is it necessary? Is it truthful? Is it kind?