A tip of the hat to Tim Ferris for unearthing and refining this challenge.

Could I go 21 days without complaining?21 days with no complaining - can I do it?

I’m not talking about blithely skipping through life with attendant bluebirds twittering near my ears, this is about training one’s brain to solve problems that can be solved and cope with the rest.

The challenge goes like this:

On the first day, wear a bracelet – a rubber band will do as the official ones from http://acomplaintfreeworld.org/ are shipped Ground Post from the US – on your right wrist.  If you get through the day without complaining, swap it to your left wrist the next morning.  Wear it there every day you don’t complain – up to and including Day 21.  If you slip up, move the bracelet back to your right wrist and start again.

What defines a complaint?  I loved Tim’s description:

“Describing an event or person negatively without indicating the next steps to fix the problem.” He also adds using “the usual 4-letter words and other common profanity as complaint qualifiers.” By adding these in, it forces you to re-word, thus forcing awareness and more precise thinking.

So — if you’re in rush hour traffic and you say “God, this is taking forever! I’m never going to get to work, let alone get a parking spot!” — you lose.

If you’re in rush hour traffic and you say “Wow getting to this intersection at 8:20 has taken 20 minutes longer so far than it would normally.  Tomorrow we’re going to get up earlier, beat the traffic in and have time for a quiet cuppa or maybe a quick walk before work.” — you win.

I’m going to give it a go.  Why? Because I can see how complaining, like the phrase “I don’t know”, makes my brain lazy and inefficient.  Plus, I’m always left with a niggling feeling of guilt after I complain.  Especially about a person. And my ranty blog posts are pointless unless I unearth cogent arguments and workable solutions.

So I’ll start right now with one of my chicken pox headbands, and move on to something a bit more fashionable when I’m out of quarantine and back to work. And because I dislike wearing bracelets on my right (mouse) wrist, I’m hoping that will be an incentive to get my brain trained that much more quickly.


  1. What an absolutely awesome idea! Hmmm… Could I do it?

  2. hmm does that mean on the 22nd day we should make ourselves scare? lol

  3. Hehe hopefully if I can make it 21 straight days without complaining, I’ll have a trained brain. Will see how I go… : P

  4. wish i could but theres too many animals jumping fences round here for me to last 21 hours let alone 21 days

  5. Pingback: 21 complaint free days « The 28-Hour-Day diet