Could You Last One Day Without Complaining?

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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…




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.



Join the Conversation

  1. Margaret VanBlarcom says:

    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!

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

  2. 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.

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

  3. 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 🙂

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

    2. Ayngelina says:

      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. 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. 🙁

    1. I was surprized about how much I complained!

  5. 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 🙂

  6. I love this!! What a great idea, I’m so going to do this challenge! 🙂

  7. 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…

    1. 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 says:

    I love it. Energy is contagious whether it’s positive or negative. Complaining usually just makes me feel worse!!

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

  9. 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!!!

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

  10. 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!

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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 says:

    I love this idea…gonna try this out. Thank you!

  12. Patsy Clothier says:

    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!

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

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

  13. Camels & Chocolate says:

    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!

    1. 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 🙂

  14. Annette | Bucket List Journey says:

    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 🙂

  15. dtravelsround says:

    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!

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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 says:

    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.

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

  17. 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!

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

  18. 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. 🙂

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

  19. Meg | One Love Meg says:

    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.

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

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

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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. But I love complaining!

    1. Ayngelina says:

      But do other people love you complaining?

  23. 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!

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

  24. Ryan, I will not even try it…I mean life without complaining would just not be the same! Lol

    1. Exactly!

  25. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad says:

    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 🙂

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

  26. 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. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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 says:

    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

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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 says:

    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.

    1. Ayngelina says:

      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. 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.

    1. Ayngelina says:

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

    1. Ayngelina says:

      Haha well at least you know yourself!

  31. Nomadic Samuel says:

    What a great idea! I wouldn’t make it though. I’m such a curmudgeon 😛

    1. Ayngelina says:

      Oh you could try it, just for a day!

  32. 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.

  33. 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. How do you find the computer widget?

  35. Travelogged says:

    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!

  36. 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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