Saturday, March 29, 2008

All the Marbles

Rev. Will Bowen's anti-complaining campaign strikes me as admirable in its earnestness, and a nice whiff of fresh air. I wouldn't take things as far as he does (No sarcasm? Life without Monty Python or Family Guy? Not to mention that creative griping is some folks’ bread and butter?). ....A friend of mine expressed hope that the good father doesn't think we should never complain about the government. I hope so too - certainly it seems that there is such a thing as useful criticism and complaint.

The other kind of complaining, though - whining and moaning about things you can't or won't change – that’s what Rev. Bowen sees (quite rightly, I suspect) as a vice. And if so, this may be added to my list of vices.

So, I kept reading. And I checked out the website where the reverend sells books, stickers, shirts, and even classroom curricula. And the bracelets. The most basic part of the program is a “Complaint Free World” bracelet that you simply move from one wrist to the other when you catch yourself doing one of the habits you are trying to break.

Not a bad idea. Bad habits are often a union of “mental" and "physical" habits - so why not use this to reinforce the learning and break the habits?


As I said, it's one of my vices. It's one of my indulgences, to borrow a term from Castenada. And since my lack of commitment to the full idea would make it hypocritical to actually join the Complaint Free World campaign, I won't, but I am borrowing the idea for my own life (I think copyright law will allow that). Nope, no bracelet for me. It's been many years since I've worn a bracelet of any type, anyway, since the late 80s and 90s when a steady progression of hand-woven 'friendship bracelets' were added to and fell off of my arms. My arms and wrists are bare these days (I don't normally wear a watch, for a specific reason - more on that another 'time' perhaps). But I like the idea. Combine the mental with the physical reminder in a simple way. Left to right. Back. Repeating the movement because you've caught yourself repeating the bad habit. Right to left. Almost like going backward -- to remind you that the habit is moving you backward, away from your goal.

I like this. And I'd like to complain less about things I can't change. I'd like to complain less when my complaining is using time and energy that could be applied to fixing whatever it is that the lazy and self-indulgent part of my brain would rather be whining about.

So I have a marble. Just one, and not because I lost all my others years ago (some of my friends may disagree here). I have one that I picked out from a few I keep around. (I like marbles, by the way). This past Wednesday the morning I put it in my right pants pocket. When I caught myself complaining in a less than constructive way, I moved it from right to left. Or back again.

I wish I would have counted exactly how many times I moved it the first day. Let's say twenty to be sure (my best guess would be seventeen). OK, my job is busy right now, and our beautiful and energetic little baby has me a bit tired out, but this was bad. I was now convinced that the experiment was worth sticking out to some sort of conclusion. I'm writing this past midnight on day three: Friday, March 28th, 2008. Here's the scoreboard:

Day one, Wednesday (estimated): 20 (17 probable)

Day two, Thursday: 6

Day three, today: 3


I detect improvement!

But time will tell, so I'll update at some point in the future on how this little trick has been working. If I can find the time - I'm so busy, and I hurt my back shoveling snow last week, and...


Whoops.

Left to right.

1 comment:

Anna said...

I'm proud of you for sticking with the marbles, and for having to switch pockets less and less.