angry girl
Halifax, Canada

As you know I’m a big fan of 30-day challenges, even when I fail them I learn something valuable. My sister Ryan is also practicing them as small steps towards change so I asked her to guest post about what could possibly be the toughest 30 day challenge of all.

For my New Year’s resolution I decided to do a 30-day challenge each month. For some reason I decided to go big:

 

No complaining for 30 days.

It started off well. Anytime I had complaining thoughts, I would immediately turn them into a positive ones.

I was so proud of myself, I was turning my negativity into positivity. Then it happened… I went to a baby shower. The shower was great, the two hour drive (each way) with my best friend of 25 years was the challenge. We talked about EVERYTHING.

 

Needless to say, I complained.

While I thought I was hopeless, I accidently came across a book at the library, A Complaint Free World: The 21-day Challenge, that will change your life by Will Bowen. From time to time I read these types of self-help books, only to end up skimming them and thinking, tell me something I don’t know…

 

bracelet

This book was different.

 

Will Bowen challenges people to quit complaining for 21 days. Our day to day complaining is often unnecessary and toxic to our lives. Often we complain that we have headache, it’s cold out or we are broke. But this constantly complaining doesn’t change anything.

Like the famous Lance Armstrong yellow bracelet, he created a purple complaint free bracelet. He suggests that you put it on your right wrist, if you complain you need to switch it to your left. He also created a nifty computer widget that that will keep track of your days. If you complain you can reset it.

I liked this book because he was very honest on how difficult this challenge really is. It took him 10 months to be complaint free for 21 days. He also discusses stories of people who admit they have been trying for years to make day 21.

I know what you’re thinking…sometimes it’s okay to complain and vent…it’s good for the soul. He acknowledges that it is okay to complain in rare circumstances BUT we do it far too often. There are people out there dealing with terminal illness, it’s not a big deal if you run out of hot water during your shower.

 

I challenge you.

You don’t need to order a purple bracelet like I did; you can put a hair elastic or a rubber band around your wrist. Every time you complain switch it. You might be surprised by how much you complain.

I have been working on this challenge since January 2 and I am very proud to say I am still on Day 1.

 

65 Comments

  1. Margaret VanBlarcom on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    Ilove this one! Ryan, you make me want to try this … although I’m thinking it will be way too difficult. Perhaps I’ll take baby steps like using the rubber band idea for a week to see how I make out. Thanks for being so honest!

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      Do it!I have 8 bracelets left. If you’re serious I’ll give you one :)

  2. Carmie on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    This is such a great idea for a challenge cause I am sure it isn’t easy. I did the “no meat for a month” one with Ayngelina but that was easy as I only had to show up and eat…I didn’t have to come up with the meals.I am going to look for an elastic tonight and start tomorrow.

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      Good luck…I’ll bring you a bracelet when I am home again.

  3. rob on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    Not unrelated, a few years ago I read a book on brain plasticity and how we can reprogram ourselves. I had observed that I was borderline depressive and so started an experiment. Every morning I would, whilst preparing my tea, look outdoors and declare out loud what a beautiful day it was. I felt stupid for a while, and then noticed after a few weeks that it really *was* a beautiful day out. Every day has its good and bad aspects, but rain or shine the outdoors is very beautiful. I combined this with a (very irritating to other people) declaration on FB every morning about how great it was to be alive.

    Within a month I was a *MUCH* happier person, all the time.

    Of course, I still complained to myself about the poor drivers on the road :)

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      What a great idea. I am going to start tomorrow!

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      That’s really interesting Rob. But I really think positivity is a habit and we need to practice it consciously in the beginning and after a while it becomes a natural part of our thinking.

  4. HoboTia on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    Whoa. What a concept!

    You talked me into it. I just reserved that book from the library and I’m going in search of a purple hairband. Skeptical if I can even make it through the next hour without complaining. :(

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      I was surprized about how much I complained!

  5. Hannah on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    I loved this post! You are so right, we complain far too easily and it is an unhealthy habit to fall into. You have definitely inspired me to take up the challenge. Thank you :)
    Hannah recently posted..Growing older and wiser

  6. Michi on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    I love this!! What a great idea, I’m so going to do this challenge! :)

  7. Amanda on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    Haha, this would be a really tough challenge for me, I think! Does it count if you complain in your head but just don’t say it out loud? Maybe I’d survive a week that way…
    Amanda recently posted..Up Close With Dinosaurs in the Everglades

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      It’s your lucky day…it doesn’t count. He said he had many silent dinners with his wife. Eventually they found something positive to talk about & those silent thoughts in his head also turned into positive ones. The bad news is gossiping and pointing out others who complain does count!

  8. Roy Marvelous on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    I love it. Energy is contagious whether it’s positive or negative. Complaining usually just makes me feel worse!!
    Roy Marvelous recently posted..Frequently Asked Questions About Finding A Job On Cruise Ships. And Like Other Stuff.

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Negative feelings never make anyone feel better and what’s worse is that it is infectious and you pass it onto other people.

  9. Sebastian on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    I consider myself a very positive person! I would still change the bracelet at least once every second hour I think!!

    Great Post!! I think I will try this!!!
    Sebastian recently posted..Photo Of The Week: Sunset in Stavenger, Norway

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      You are one of the most positive people I know for sure!

  10. Lauren on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    But it’s so hard to quit complaining! See, there I go again. I find that sometimes I think I’m expressing an opinion, but it’s really just complaining. It’s a negative habit that has been woven into our daily lives. Thanks for the motivation to change, great idea!
    Lauren recently posted..It’s All Downhill From Here

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      To be honest I once traveled with someone and within 15 minutes they commented negatively on 10 things and finally I lost it on them. They looked surprised and said they were just commenting/expressing an opinion – I don’t need people feeding me negative opinions. Instead of appreciating the beauty of Latin America he was complaining about the side walks, the smells, etc. People don’t benefit from negativity.

      He didn’t say a single negative thing for the rest of the day :)

  11. Christine Martin on the February 28, 2012 remarked #

    I love this idea…gonna try this out. Thank you!
    Christine Martin recently posted..Logistics & the car analogy

  12. Camels & Chocolate on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    This is such a good idea! One of the things I dislike most about myself is that I am a classic complainer. I should try your challenge, too! Also, the last portrait is just beautiful. You two sure have some supermodel-like genes!
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..Birthday Bliss

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      I’m a classic complainer too! I complain about things that have no affect on my life…that was the easiest thing to cut out :)

  13. Patsy Clothier on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    OH MY GOSH, I love the idea of not complaining for 30 days; however, I can’t even imagine that I could ever do it….but I do know that anything is possible. I’m looking for a rubber band tonight…for sure! Thanks for your wonderful positive spirits, girls!

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Patsy I have never heard a negative thing come from your mouth!

      • Ryan on the March 6, 2012 remarked #

        I was thinking the same thing. You are always a delight!

  14. Annette | Bucket List Journey on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    Love this idea and I want to take the challenge! Even though I consider myself a positive person, I catch myself complaining everyday (mostly about how darn cold it is outside). It could take me over a year to accomplish this goal, but maybe in the meantime I will be retraining my brain to think more positive :)
    Annette | Bucket List Journey recently posted..Celebrating a Blogiversary with 10 Blogging Mistakes

  15. dtravelsround on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    I’ve been on a quest to be positive, too. Up until just now, I thought I was doing a great job. Except for the complaining part. I don’t even mean to. But, today … my muscles hurt from yoga and I said something. This is a great challenge and one that I think we all could benefit from. While I don’t know if I will go buy the book right away (one book at a time, and I’m working on a zen one right now), it is on my list!

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I think the idea is to see the positive in things – so your muscles may hurt from yoga but that means it was a great workout. For me the biggest thing is that I hate being around people who complain, it brings me down and so I try to do it as little as possible.

  16. Stephanie - The Travel Chica on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    Coming across that book was a nice little nudge forward from the Universe.

    Just from this post, I can see how similar you and Ayngelina are, both not just wanting to live positive, fulfilled lives but actually taking the steps to do it.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Mercado Fluvial in Valdivia

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      We’re not similar…I just copy everything she does…right sista!

  17. Christine on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    One of my 2012 resolutions was to stop saying that I’m jealous of other people. Such a little thing, but it’s really interesting to turn my thoughts around. When I’m about to say that i’m jealous–particularly if I’m going to write it online, like on someone’s FB post or Twitter–instead, I say that I’m happy for them instead. Because I am, and I’m also happy with my own life–it’s crazy how much just shifting your own perspective can increase your own positivity!
    Christine recently posted..Why “backpacker heaven” is actually my hell

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      That’s a really interesting perspective, I say that all the time! I may join you in that resolution.

  18. Mikeachim on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    I accept – with a caveat: “complaining” as “grumbling”.

    There are some kinda of complaints that are good and useful. Complaining to someone, without getting uppity or snarky, about, say, customer service. A complaint that is brave and respectful and designed to point out that something is amiss without making it personal, and then have a conversation around it that makes the world a slightly better place. Those kinds of complaints? I want to do *more* of them.

    But the kind of complaint that is just a meaningless grumble, not designed to help improve the situation?

    I’m totally on-board. :)
    Mikeachim recently posted..Hadrian’s Wall: Fear and Loathing in Twice Brewed

    • Ryan on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

      Agreed, it’s not about ignoring the situation but responding differently.

  19. Meg | One Love Meg on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    I love me some challenges! I really think I am going to do this. Buy the book and bracelet and all. I think I will be very bad at this but just being aware will be a good lesson for me. It is so hard to not complain and I always admire the people who can live this way. I want to be that person. I’m in. I’m trying to decide if I can start today, because I can’t remember if I complained yet today. I am pretty sure I did.

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Meg I am so surprised to hear you say that, your blog is so inspiring. You could definitely make the switch.

  20. Holly Em on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    This will certainly be a challenge. What is it about us that makes us feel the need to complain? First World Problem perhaps? LOL.

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I just watched The Happy Movie and the poorest people in the world always looked at all the things they had instead of what they did not – definitely a first world problem.

  21. Eugenie on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    I like the idea, I don’t consider myself to be a complainer but a criticizer, or is criticizing also complaining?

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Well they are very similar and both really negative. I guess in both cases you need to decide whether the negative comments actually help the situation.

  22. Franco on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    But I love complaining!

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      But do other people love you complaining?

  23. Cherina on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    You girls are so inspiring with all these undertakings! Complaining is something I know I do too much. I think it would take me more than 10 months, but it would certainly be an interesting and worthwhile challenge. Good luck with getting to Day 2, Ryan!
    Cherina recently posted..The World On Show: Travel Shows and Why You Should Give Them a Chance

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I really try not to complain but even I would have a tough time getting to Day 2.

  24. Federico on the February 29, 2012 remarked #

    Ryan, I will not even try it…I mean life without complaining would just not be the same! Lol
    Federico recently posted..How to Save Money on Accommodation When Traveling Abroad

    • Abi on the March 2, 2012 remarked #

      Exactly!

  25. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad on the March 1, 2012 remarked #

    My friend said to me a while ago that I make an art form of complaining. So I think it’s ok as long as you do it in style ;) But you are right, we tend to complain too much about small things that don’t actually matter. So I might reduce my complaining, but I’m not sure if I could completely stop :)
    Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad recently posted..Crispy Pork Buns at World’s Cheapest Michelin Star Restaurant

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Hmm I don’t know, it may have been a polite way to tell you to stop :) even if just a little!

  26. Krista on the March 2, 2012 remarked #

    I’m not an outward complainer – I’m afraid I’ve been accused of being Pollyanna more than a few times. :-) But I harbor sad thoughts INSIDE, and those are what I’m working on. I’m getting there. :-)
    Krista recently posted..A Crazy Month of Little Adventures

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I’m so happy to hear that Krista, you will get there – just don’t go all the way to becoming a complainer :)

  27. Kieu ~ GQ trippin on the March 2, 2012 remarked #

    I tend to see the glass half empty too often. I don’t do it intentionally, but lately it’s been more frequent and obvious since we’ve been on the road. I think Gerard would appreciate a little less complaining from me so I think I’m going to try the challenge for both our sake. Great post! Wish me luck. I’m heading to India and I can already think of the many ways to complain. Lol

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I think traveling can definitely bring out the worst in complaining, you get tired and frustrated but then it becomes an ongoing thing. As someone who has traveled with big complainers I can attest it can get annoying because complaining definitely doesn’t help things – although laughing does seem to help.

  28. Renee King on the March 2, 2012 remarked #

    Sometimes, it helps to look at one’s life through someone else’s eyes. I didn’t realize how critical I could be until someone brought it to my attention. More often than not, criticism is masked as one’s dissatisfaction with one’s life, career, relationship, etc. Constant criticism expresses itself as the verbal diarrhea of an unfulfilled life. The only thing that will successfully exorcise that habit is to identify the source and change it. I won’t lie, bitching and moaning can be cathartic, but it’s never a panacea.
    Renee King recently posted..TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      I completely agree with you, it’s definitely a bad habit and I have never met someone who was truly happy that complained a lot. I think they learn to see beyond the little things that annoy us.

  29. Anwar on the March 3, 2012 remarked #

    I’ve been able to get past a day, but mostly it happens when I’m traveling and relaxing. I do need to get better at it when I’m home. You are right though, there are so many things that truly deserve complaints but often we complain about things that really don’t matter. It becomes like a hobby almost.
    Anwar recently posted..Friday Photo: Don’t Waste Time — Brussels Underground

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      In some ways when people ask us how we are I think we are afraid to say ‘great’ and feel like we need to soften it by complaining.

  30. Erik on the March 3, 2012 remarked #

    Couldn’t do it. What’s worse is I wouldn’t even try.

    • Ayngelina on the March 4, 2012 remarked #

      Haha well at least you know yourself!

  31. Nomadic Samuel on the March 5, 2012 remarked #

    What a great idea! I wouldn’t make it though. I’m such a curmudgeon :P
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Korean Students | Smiling Faces

    • Ayngelina on the March 5, 2012 remarked #

      Oh you could try it, just for a day!

  32. Lisa on the March 15, 2012 remarked #

    Oh my god, I laughed out loud when your sister said she is still on day one. I would struggle with this one too. I focus on the positive, but the complaining creeps in. But what a great inspiration to try.
    Lisa recently posted..Breathing Deep, What’s Your Walk on the Beach?

  33. Diana on the April 4, 2012 remarked #

    my problem is that I often complain about people that have the habit to complain. Is the second level goal??? I will try to
    avoid it from today on. :-) as i cant stend them while they complain i cant stend myself :-)not any more :-)

  34. Jaclyn on the December 14, 2013 remarked #

    How do you find the computer widget?

  35. Travelogged on the February 25, 2014 remarked #

    Not sure if this challenge has ever been completed in NYC? We really like complaining here… In fact, if you don’t have anything to complain about you might be considered too braggy or like you’re just hiding something :) That said, I do try to be a positive person!
    Travelogged recently posted..Geneva and the South of France: My 10-Day Intinerary

  36. Megsy on the February 25, 2014 remarked #

    Great article. We sometimes don’t realize how much we complain, and it’s usually about the unimportant things. I guess it a turn the frown upside down concept. Look at things from a positive perspective and you’ll have nothing to complian about.

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