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Chronic complaining needs a breath of fresh air, speaker says

Chronic complaining needs a breath of fresh air, speaker says


DECATUR – Will Bowen tells the story of two construction workers who have lunch together every day, and one of them always complains to the other about the contents of his lunch box.

Finally, the second one asks him why he doesn't request that his wife pack food he likes. “I make my own lunch,” the man says.

While this story got a big laugh at the Community Leaders Breakfast at the Decatur Conference Center and Hotel on Thursday, the message, Bowen said, is a serious one. If you are dissatisfied with your circumstances, change them. You make your own lunch.

Bowen is the Kansas City pastor who originated the movement to go 21 days without complaining. It exploded into a national phenomenon. He's written two books, been on TV with Oprah Winfrey and other national chat shows and is considered the expert on complaining.

“The average person complains 15 to 30 times a day and has no awareness of it,” Bowen said. “It's like bad breath. You notice it coming out of somebody else's mouth, but not your own.”

At each person's plate at the breakfast, Bowen had placed one of the purple rubber bracelets engraved, “A Complaint Free,” of which 11 million have been shipped worldwide so far, to 106 countries.

Participants wear the bracelet on one wrist, and move it to the other wrist when they catch themselves complaining, and have to start over with Day One on the quest to reach 21 full days without complaining.

The key to breaking the habit, Bowen said, is to stop telling everyone else about a problem and speak directly and only to the person who can solve it.

If people can break the complaining habit, Bowen said, their thought processes will change and the result is a happier, more satisfying life.

The other speaker at the breakfast was Decatur School District Superintendent Lisa Taylor, whose message was similar. Changing the perception of Decatur schools is important to her.

“Great things are happening in our schools every day,” she said. “What you hear isn't always what you see. I truly believe the work we do is important.”

She brought videos, one highlighting Operation Calculus, which helps students at risk of dropping higher math classes to master the material and succeed; one showing a preschool child at Garfield Montessori School reciting the Pledge of Allegiance; and one with various teachers and administrators talking about their pride in their work.

“We're going to be rubbing our successes in your face, but we're also going to be honest about our challenges,” Taylor said. “The most important thing we ask is that you believe that what we do matters.”


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