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by Donald B. Ardell, Ph. D.
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(Don's Report to the World)

There Will Never Be a Complaint-free World, But it Might be a Good Idea If We All Did Less of It

Saturday July 4, 2015

You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.  Ziggy

Your complaints, your drama, your victim mentality, your whining, your blaming and all of your excuses have NEVER gotten you even a single step closer to your goals or dreams. Let go of your nonsense. Let go of the delusion that you DESERVE better and go EARN it! Today is a new day! Steve Maraboli


Why complain about anything? One reason is to get action of some kind that rights a perceived wrong, to achieve some measure of justice, real or imagined. Another is to relieve stress. On rare occasions, complaints make things better; more often, they have adverse consequences.   

REAL wellness is a mindset and lifestyle that renders enlarged quality of life. When there are obstacles, problems, frustrations and setbacks, as occur daily, effective strategies are brought into play by those focused on REAL wellness. Usually, complaining is not one of them. REAL wellness is a way of thinking and functioning that protects and enhances your sense of exuberant living, personal freedoms, positive relationships and common decency. There are ways of dealing with situations that are not helpful that are usually more expeditious than complaining, as most people think of what complaining entails.

Let's look a bit more closely at the nature of complaining and ask, What might a REAL wellness perspective on complaining entail?  

Thanks to my friend and colleague Lutz Hertel, founder of the German Wellness Association and leading European expert on REAL wellness at worksites and destination spas, I learned about Will Bowen, author of the 2006 best-seller A Complaint-Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted.

A Complaint Free World sparked a worldwide movement; it also (for a while) reduced the volume of complaints.

Mr. Bowen's advice is simple but sweet—stop complaining. Eliminating or even reducing complaints will make your life simpler, pleasanter and more enjoyable. Who could argue with that?  

ComplaintOf course, urging readers to do something obviously wise and sensible—become and stay fit, love life, be a vegan and so on because it's good for your health and makes life simpler, your choices wiser and kinder, your times pleasanter and more enjoyable—is usually not enough. So Bowen went further—he created a campaign! Really. He promoted no complaints with purple bracelets and, thanks in part to appearances on Oprah, The Today Show and endless media exposure, sales and giveaways of bracelets (and his program) took off. At least ten million no complaints bracelets were sold. People do love gimmicks.

At this point, you might be wondering if there is credible evidence, scientific research or studies that support the beneficial claims Bowen put forward for less complaining? Well, not really. However, there are plenty of sensible behaviors that have not been subjected to double-blind, randomized trials that are, in fact, still effective. Sometimes, that which is seemingly obvious is a good as it appears. Besides, lots of beliefs that people adopt and to which they devote their lives have zero evidence for the claims put forward, none more so than beliefs in gods, prayers, an afterlife and everything else association with religion.

Speaking of complaints, boy, do I have a few to make about religion, the greatest scam in the history of human life on earth. But, I digress, a little.

Besides not complaining, Bowen urged his readers to avoid chronic complainers and become more competent as a bulwark against the learned, ingrained cultural norm to complain too much.

Bowen identified four stages of competence with regard to becoming complaint resistant:

These stages strike me as carrying a good concept a little too far, which I suppose academics and others writing books tend to do to fill out pages for grant requests and the like.

Bowen also claimed that it takes from four to eight weeks to advance from one stage to the next for any particular skill, including eliminating complaining from your life. Complaining a lot or even at all has consequences, among them being:

Among the major advantages of eliminating complaints are:

Naturally, any program that goes over well on Oprah must have it's elements of goofiness, psychobabble and religiosity, and this program is no exception. Being a priest, I suppose one should expect advice from Bowen like, “God will provide.” Bullshit. If that were true, people would not be such chronic complainers in the first place. What if, and this seems 100 percent likely to me and about a third of all Americans, there is no god—and remember there is absolutely no bloody evidence for one now or ever? If that's the case, who then will provide.  It's up to you, baby. A sky god is not going to do it.

Anyway, despite the supernatural silliness, which may have been thrown in to sell more books and bracelets, it's a good idea to complain less, as well as more effectively when you do decide that an artful complaint that is likely to get positive action is needed.

All things considered, the advice is a worthy antidote for negativity.

Signed Don Ardell

(Ed. Note: Views expressed in this and other columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of the SeekWellness Editorial Board.)

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