In my last post, I wrote about the importance of right speech. In line with that post, and thinking more about the way we communicate with ourselves and others, I’d like to share a challenge. I recently came across a book by Will Bowen, called ‘A Complaint Free World‘. The movement, which was started in 2006, has spread across the world, with people wearing a purple bracelet and switching it to the other wrist each time they complain about something. The idea is to realise just how often we complain, and try to resist the temptation, keeping our communication clearer and more positive. When you consider that our thoughts – including the ones we say out loud! – go a long way towards creating our perceptions of the world, this would seem to be a very practical way of improving things for ourselves, as well as a way of learning not to say such a big ‘no’ to the circumstances of our lives.
It is said that it takes us 21 days to create lasting change, either adopting a new positive habit, or eradicating an old one, and so the challenge the Complaint Free World movement sets us is to go 21 days without complaining. Not an easy task! And so, why not start trying today? Yes, even if you have already complained today! As the old saying goes, there’s no time like the present! Although you can order the purple bracelets from their website, you could also use your own method of noticing your complaints – using an ordinary bracelet or band, for example.
If you decide to give the challenge a try, be aware that Bowen himself found initially that he had to move his bracelet around 20 times a day! So don’t expect to complete the challenge in 21 days, or even close to that! At first, when we try to become conscious of any bad habit, it can be extremely uncomfortable, and tempting to go back to the way things were. On the path of change, we need to move through 4 stages:
1. Unconscious incompetence – we are not even aware of the behaviour, and so we feel quite comfortable!
2. Conscious incompetence – we become aware of the behaviour, but are not yet successful in changing it. This is the worst stage for us to go through!
3. Conscious competence – we are becoming better at controlling our behaviour, and deliberately substituting something more positive. In my experience, though, it can be all too easy to slip back to incompetence at this stage. And then the challenge is to start anew, and not give up.
4. Unconscious competence – we have fully established the new habit, or eradicated the old one, so we no longer need to be aware of it.
(paraphrased from ‘The Buddha’s Brain’, by Rick Hanson and Richard Mendius)
If you are ready for the challenge, or indeed if you have already tried it, I’d love to know how you are getting on! Please leave your comments below.