Raising Consciousness: The Complaint-Free Way

December 2009

Rev. Will Bowen

Will Bowen speaks on positivity, pay it forward, and not complaining
Rev. Will Bowen is senior minister at Christ Church Unity in Kansas City, Missouri.

Just for a moment, think about what a positive world this could be—would be—if every one of us on the planet were so focused on what was good in life that we stopped complaining.

We can make this happen—one person at a time. I was reminded of this one day while reading The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity by Edwene Gaines. In her book, Edwene stresses the importance of people forming a habit of positivity. The idea is to focus on the good we do want in our lives, rather than the negative we don’t want. By doing so, we enjoy a more positive life. She suggests that people eradicate complaining from their lives by going 21 days without voicing a complaint.

A few months ago, as I was preparing the talk for Sunday service at Christ Church Unity, I began to think about how helpful it would be to have a tangible reminder not to complain for 21 days. Then an idea came to me: a bracelet! Wearing a bracelet would help us remember not to complain and, therefore, remind us to focus on the positive. I thought, If any of us do complain, we’ll have to move the bracelet off one wrist and on to the other, starting the 21 days over again.

To launch our project, we bought 500 purple bracelets, more than enough for our usual attendance of 250. When we gave out the bracelets at the end of the service, everybody wanted more. They wanted them for their sports teams, schools, and businesses. When the first order was depleted, we ordered another 500. Then 1,000. Then we took the big leap of buying 2,000.

The news spread by word-of-mouth, and this past November, The Kansas City Star featured an article about our project. The story was eventually carried by more than fifty newspapers around the country. Orders started coming in from around the world. Then, our story was featured in People magazine, onThe Today Show, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show—and bracelet orders hit the roof! We continue to give bracelets away on a love-offering basis.

People have asked me, “Tell us how much they cost so we’ll know how much to give.” My response: “They are a gift. I would never give you a Christmas gift and say, ‘Merry Christmas, and oh, by the way, this present cost me $37.50.’” Our giving is not about raising money; it’s about raising consciousness.

Transforming Lives

The letters and e-mails we have received from people are absolutely incredible. I just read an e-mail from a man whose son died 14 years ago. This man was still in a deep depression, but when he learned about the bracelet, he decided to order one and focus on what’s good in his life, rather than what’s bad. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to change in order to once again fully live life.

People who wear the bracelet are discovering the truth of how their thoughts create their world. Our words are indicators of our thoughts. When we no longer allow negative words to come out of our mouths, our brains literally stop producing them. We become happier, more positive people. Charles Fillmore, the cofounder of Unity said that the power of the spoken word was given to us to use. As we become more and more aware of our thoughts, we literally become the positive, fulfilled people we desire to be.

I’ve been a Unity minister for 3 years and I thought I was already a pretty positive guy. Yet, after experiencing 21 days without complaining, I am a completely different person. Now my default setting is an awareness of what’s going well, what’s right, what’s good, what’s the blessing. My relationships are better and my health is better. I’m enjoying my ministry. I feel as if I had been blind to so much good in life and now I am able to see it. My life has become that different.

One person I know had been complaining for the longest time about having severe headaches. Wearing the bracelet, he quit complaining about headaches, and they went away. People who had once been consumed with talk about big challenges with their children and big challenges at work stopped talking about the challenges, and, all of a sudden, the challenges went away.

When people who are wearing a bracelet catch themselves complaining, they don’t make a big deal out of it. They just move the bracelet to the other wrist and start over again. If they hear others who are wearing purple bracelets complain, criticize, or gossip, they can tell them that they need to move their bracelets.
However, they’d have to move their own bracelet first, because they’re complaining about others.

Some people make it 4 days without complaining. Others may reach 10 days before they start over. It’s not necessarily easy—it took me 3-1/2 months! A change of habit does not happen at the snap of a finger; a true transformation takes time.

Eventually most people complete the 21 days of being complaint-free. At that point, they can request aCertificate of Happiness, but most importantly, they benefit from forming a new, positive outlook on life.

A Concept for All Faiths

The bracelet is not about changing anybody’s belief or faith. I presented this program at a Catholic church. I received an e-mail from a Rabbi who’s doing a series on using the bracelet to become complaint-free. A Baptist church started a complaint-free Wednesday night program. A Lutheran church started a complaint-free Sunday school. Ministers in one city have gotten together and given out purple bracelets on the same day, saying they were going to transform the consciousness of their city. Psychologists are creating complaint-free school curriculum, relationship guides, and seminars.

I’ve had people say that this is the “pay it forward” of this millennium. I’ve also had people say that the book The Secret tells you to live a life of gratitude, but the purple bracelet teaches you how to do it. What started with around 250 people at Christ Unity Church in Kansas City has spread to over 5 million people in eighty countries around the world. I believe what anthropologist Margaret Mead said is true: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”