(picture from http://www.acomplaintfreeworld.org)
Last Saturday, my friend Sarah gave me a purple elastic band, with the words “A Complaint Free World” printed on it. She said that along with the band came a challenge to refrain from complaining for 21 days (the amount of time it takes to ingrain a new habit). She said that each time I slipped up and complained, I needed to move the band to my other wrist and start counting the 21 days all over again.
I eagerly accepted the band because I thought it was a great idea. I loved the idea of reducing the negative energy and free-floating complaining in the world. I must admit, I took the band a bit smugly. I put it on my left wrist, confident that it would stay there for the entire 21 days. I think of myself as a very positive person, who is very grateful for the life I lead. I figured it would be no problem for me to go a mere 3 weeks without complaining.
So, I got the band on Saturday afternoon and put it on my left wrist.
Saturday evening – Going back to my hotel after my coaching class, I had to take a NY subway downtown in suffocating heat. Due to some construction, the express trains were running local and making all the stops. Moved the band to my right wrist.
Sunday – Took the final exam for my coaching class. What I thought was going to be a two-hour short answer test with a single essay question, turned out to be closer to a two-hour all essay test. Moved the band back to my left wrist.
Monday – Caught a flight from NY to Phoenix. Sat on the runway for 45 minutes waiting to take off. I’d already been away from my husband all week when I was in NY and he was in Connecticut; now I was going further away. Moved the band back to my right wrist.
Tuesday – Discovered the water heater in my apartment in Phoenix was broken. Took a cold shower. Moved the band back to my left wrist.
Wednesday – Despite a note from the maintenance man that he had repaired my water heater, there was still no hot water. Washed my hair in cold water. Moved the band back to my right wrist.
Thursday – Problems with my laptop caused me to spend 15 minutes searching for a phone number for “customer service” – and then to sit on hold waiting to talk to a human being for another 25 minutes. Moved the band back to my left wrist.
Friday – Catching the red-eye from Phoenix to NY and then taking the first morning train from Grand Central to Connecticut – might as well go ahead and move the band over to my right wrist now.
So, what did I learn in the first 7 days of my grand experiment?
I could say that this week has been worse than usual, but that wouldn’t be true. Every week, every day, has incidents that push us to complain. The truth is that I complain more than I realize; the band just made me more conscious of it.
The problem is that complaining is negative energy. As we discussed in yesterday’s post, people are attracted to positive energy and repelled by negative energy. So while I may get momentary relief from complaining about my situation, I am actually doing myself more harm than good. The people I am trying to connect with, will actually eventually start to avoid me.
This is important for the would-be networker to realize. While it is important to connect with people with words and passion, those connections should be positive in order to be nurturing and sustainable.
There are over 2 million purple bands in circulation. If you would like one of your own, order here. They’re free although they accept donations to cover expenses. But be forewarned – due to the high demand the bands are taking currently 12 weeks to be delivered.
Once you get the band, see how long it takes you to go 21 straight days without a complaint. Wear your band to your next networking event and use it as an icebreaker. Tell the people you meet about your 21 day project – I’m sure they’ll be interested – but whatever you do – don’t complain about it!!
What do you think of this project? Would you take the challenge? Or do you think that complaining serves a purpose?