no complaints department

I am working on the 21-day challenge set forth by Will Bowen in his book A Complaint-Free World, with some limited success.

The premise is simple, as is the book: refrain from complaining, verbally and aloud. The idea is to go 21 consecutive days without doing it - easy on paper, hard in practice. To help you remember you wear a bracelet, switching it from one wrist to the other each time you kvetch, or use some other such reminder method such as a coin kept in one pocket and moved to another as required.

The day I started was at last weekend's Diamondbacks vs. Mets game. It's become a family tradition, the five of us trekking to Chase Field in our Mets gear, hoping to see our original home team stop sucking (that wasn't a complaint but an objective assessment, really) but also cheering for our adopted home team. We got to the stadium and were heading inside when the gate attendant pointed out that our tickets were for the day before. Previously I would have lost it, gotten down on myself and pretty much caved. But instead I took a deep breath and paid attention while the attendant pointed us to the ticket windows.

We waited on line for a good 10 minutes while our younger sons got wild and out of control, only to be told we had to go to a different window. At that window we again waited while keeping the boys from climbing/thrashing/fighting/wreaking general havoc, again to be rerouted to yet another window, and then to a fourth. The boys were going apeshit by then, and my wife was rather floored at how I was not joining them. All the time I kept telling myself, this will work out, this is just an inconvenience.

And next thing I knew, the ticket clerk handed me five new tix, ten rows in front of our old seats. The game was great, David Wright hit a homer into the stands a few rows from us, and we had a great time - in part, because I stopped myself from griping. Or at least I did until the Mets intentionally walked Augie Ojeda and I whined about it to no one in particular. Realizing I'd done it got me laughing as I switched my rubber band to the other wrist.

To date I've made it 24 hours twice - in fact today I went 36 hours without audibly bitching, quite a feat for me. But just a while ago I caught myself letting one out and reset the calendar again.

For me, it's traffic. I can have the most peaceful, complaint-free morning, and then go out on the road and catch myself yapping about how the guy just cut me off. Sure, the guy is a lousy/dangerous/shitty driver, but pissing and moaning about it doesn't do anything to help. All you can do is not let it affect your good day, and remember to be a defensive driver.

I highly recommend this idea, especially if you're an angry zen bastard like me. Plus, you get to snap a big honking rubber band against your wrist from time to time and have a good excuse, at least until your official ComplaintFreeWorld purple wristband arrives in the mail.


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