Your health, career and relationships may cause you stress, but complaining about them won't improve your situation, says the Rev. Will Bowen, an expert on complaining. Dr. Oz talks with the Rev. Bowen, author of A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted, about how he got his Kansas City, Missouri, congregation to stop complaining—a mission that is now part of an international movement.
In July 2006, the Rev. Bowen asked his congregation to take part in a 21-day complaint-free challenge. He passed out purple bracelets and asked that every time they complained or pointed out someone else complaining, to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start the 21-day challenge all over again. The Rev. Bowen says it was a difficult change for almost everyone. "I thought I was the most positive, upbeat person in world, and I broke three bracelets before I made it the 21 consecutive days," the Rev. Bowen says.
Now, more than two years later, the Rev. Bowen says he can't remember the last time he complained—and many of the 5.7 million other people who heard about the challenge and have gotten a bracelet are also living complaint-free. "The feedback people give is, by doing this, they literally become happier people," he says.
The Rev. Bowen shares his advice to help you become complaint-free:
State facts instead of complaining. "It is all the difference between stating a fact and having this emotional energy tied up in it," he says. "This is all about moving beyond being a victim and being in control of your own life."
Find the positive in all situations. "Yesterday, when [the airline] discovered a maintenance issue on the plane [I was on], people were complaining, and I said, 'I'm glad they found it on the ground as a opposed [to] in the air!'" the Rev. Bowen says.
Change the words you use. Instead of using the word "problem," call something an "opportunity" or "challenge," he says. When you find yourself saying, "I have to," say "I get to" instead.
Go ahead and gossip. "I say that it is okay to gossip," the Rev. Bowen says. "I really believe it is perfectly fine to gossip—if what you would say you would say if the person were present with the same inflection and same words."