Need a Resolution? How to Stop Complaining for 21 Days

I always have resolutions for New Year’s, but this time I’m determined to follow through. My most important resolution is to be more patient and to weigh my words more carefully. A newspaper article once called Kris Langley, the main character of my mystery novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, my alter ego as we both have journalism backgrounds. But honestly, my real literary alter ego is Brad McKendrick, the hotheaded hockey player from my young adult novel Face-Off. Brad is impatient, has a temper, and acts impulsively. He’s also a talented writer, caring and a leader, so I like to believe that we do share some positive characteristics as well! However, Brad and I often regret our quick tempers and flashes of impatience. Frankly, I’m getting impatient with my impatience. I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking, yet I find myself slipping up too often. I want to respond better to various situations and break these old patterns.

So this year, I am challenging myself and I invite others to take on the challenge also. I am joining the Complaint-Free World effort. I’ve tried it before and have given up, but this year I am determined to reach my goal. The idea is simple: scientists believe it takes 21 days to form a new habit and complaining is habitual for most of us. The purple Complaint Free World bracelet is a powerful tool to remind you of how well you are creating your life with positive intention. If you catch yourself complaining, you move the bracelet to your other arm and start back to Day One. The object is to reach 21 consecutive complaint-free days.

In July 2006, Will Bowen offered a simple idea for people to monitor their success at eradicating complaining from their lives. His idea exploded around the world and nearly 6 million purple Complaint Free bracelets have been sent to people in more than 106 countries. Bowen has been featured on Oprah, NBC’s The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, The ABC Evening News, Fox News Channel and in hundreds of TV and radio interviews around the world.

Here are the suggested rules directly from the Complaint Free web site:
1. Begin to wear the bracelet, on either wrist
2. When you catch yourself complaining, gossiping or criticizing (it’s ok, everyone does) move the bracelet to the other arm and begin again.
3. If you hear someone else who is wearing a bracelet complain, you may point out their need to switch the bracelet to the other arm; BUT if you’re going to do this, you must move your bracelet first!
4. Stay with it. It may take many months but when you reach 21 days you will find that your entire life is happier, more loving and more enjoyable.

You can use one of the official bracelets, or use your own. I’ve misplaced mine, so I’m going to use a turquoise stretch bracelet that I have in my jewelry box. Although the idea seems simple, following through is a challenge as the average person complains about 15 – 30 times each day. My other resolutions include writing every day so that I can finish the four books I’ve had on the backburner, to exercise, to keep my house decluttered, and to give myself more relaxation time. I think making it 21 days without complaining will be my most difficult resolution to keep, but I really, really want to succeed this time.

You can read more about the challenge here. If you’d like to join me, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook and keep me posted on how you’re doing. I’ll post my progress on those networks, and more infrequently, on my blog. Let me know in the comments if you’re inspired to stop complaining for 21 days also, and I’ve love to hear your other resolutions!

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Stacy Juba's Characters At A Crossroads Blog


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It sound really amazing. Just cheking it out now.

  2. Happy New Year, Kate! It really is a neat idea and it’s amazing how many people have joined this effort. If you decide to do it, good luck with it and keep me posted on how it goes. Three hours so far and going strong, lol!

Stacy Juba