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Complaint Free Relationships: How to Positively Transform Your Personal, Work, and Love Relationships Hardcover – December 29, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

WILL BOWEN is the lead minister of the One Community Spiritual Center in Kansas City, MO. He has been featured on Oprah, Today, CBS Sunday Morning, the ABC Evening News, Fox News Channel and in hundreds of TV and radio interviews around the world. Stories about him and the movement he created have been written about in over 200 newspapers, People magazine, O, The Oprah Magazine, Self magazine and Chicken Soup for the Soul. In 2007, he was dubbed one of the most innovative Christian leaders in the U.S. by Church Solutions magazine.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Hell is other people.
—Jean-Paul Sartre
Other people are our greatest gift.
Other people can be our greatest challenge.
Do a mental inventory. Better yet, pull out a piece of paper and write down every problem or challenge you are facing, every issue that concerns you—anything about which you have negative feelings or concerns. Then ask yourself, “How many of these problems involve other people?” Chances are the vast majority of struggles you face has to do with other people and could be improved by better relationships with them. Whether it is connecting at a deeper level with your intimate partner, convincing someone at work that your course of action is best, getting your children to do their chores, or explaining your needs to a salesclerk, most of our problems involve other people and could be resolved with successful, productive relationships. Even in support of large-scale global issues or causes, when you are able to build solid connections with others you are better able to influence positive change.
Our relationships with others can enhance every aspect of our lives or create untold stress. Our relationships can bring us pleasure as well as pain, comfort as well as conflict, peace as well as power struggles.
You may feel you are a victim in your relationships and powerless to improve them. You may even feel you are trapped in a spiral of negative, unhappy, and unfulfilling associations with others. But such is not the case. You are not a victim and you are not trapped. Beginning now, you can create the relationships you desire. You can transform your relationships with your significant other, friends, family, coworkers, and even casual acquaintances and begin to experience greater joy in these connections.
As you learn new relationship skills, you will begin to attract people to you who are warm, giving, helpful, agreeable, supportive, positive, and complimentary. And you will begin to draw out these same qualities in your existing relationships. Instead of complaining about how others are treating you, you will begin to create positive experiences that compound themselves and your life will vastly improve.
The genesis of what you will learn in this book began in July of 2006 when I presented an idea to my congregation. I am the lead minister at One Community Spiritual Center in Kansas City, Missouri. While teaching a series on manifesting prosperity, I handed out purple bracelets to be used as a tool to help eradicate complaining.
Our thoughts create our lives and our words indicate what we are thinking. Most people believe they are positive and optimistic. They think they are holding affirmative visions of ideal outcomes. In actuality, most people’s thoughts are negative. Try as they may to think positively, most people’s thoughts are decidedly bleak, as evidenced by their constant complaining. This propensity to think negatively plays out as dissatisfying life events and relationship.
The prolific mystery writer Agatha Christie once wrote, “Curious things, habits. People themselves never knew they had them.” Truer words were never spoken, especially in regard to people’s habitual complaining. Based on the information shared by people who have taken the Complaint Free challenge, the average person complains fifteen to thirty times a day and has no awareness he or she is doing so. Our Complaint Free bracelets have helped millions set a trap for their negativity by catching themselves in the act. Unlike the other ubiquitous silicone bracelets you see in every color of the rainbow, the ones we distribute are not to inform the world that the wearer supports a cause. Our purple bracelets are a tool to help people become aware of how often they complain and to begin to eradicate this negative and destructive form of communication from their lives.
The idea is simple: put the purple bracelet on either wrist and when (not if) you catch yourself complaining aloud, move the bracelet to the other wrist. With each complaint, the bracelet is to be moved from the current wrist to the other. In this process, you became aware of your negativity and, over a period of months, begin to complain less.
The goal is to complete 21 consecutive days without complaining. Scientists believe it takes 21 days for a new behavior to become habitual, so when you have gone 21 consecutive days without complaining, you will have reformatted your mental hard drive and being Complaint Free will be a new and enduring habit.
I first gave out 250 bracelets to my congregation but in short order the idea exploded around the world and what was a simple sermon tool has since become a worldwide movement. We have sent millions of purple bracelets to people in more than 105 countries and continue to send out tens of thousands each month. Thousands of individuals, families, churches, schools, prisons, therapists, hospitals, drug rehab centers, and businesses have embraced this program, with some amazing results.
A Complaint Free World split off from our church and is a thriving nonreligious not-for-profit organization offering resources and tools to help people and organizations move beyond complaining to create a brighter reality.
We have been featured on Oprah and on every major television network in the United States as well as on many, many network and cable television shows around the world. Hundreds of newspapers both in the United States and internationally have done stories on us. Stories about us have appeared in dozens of magazines in the United States including People and  Newsweek.Magazine publishers in the Netherlands and South Africa have included our purple bracelets in their magazines and have not only helped spread this concept and distribute bracelets but also seen their magazines’ sales increase.
Companies have approached us wanting to distribute our bracelets with their products and have become official sponsors in their product arenas for what has become known as the Complaint Free Movement. My previous book, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted, which I wrote to answer the thousands of questions I was receiving by letter and email, became an international bestseller and continues to be published and read in more than a dozen countries around the world.
Not a day goes by that I don’t receive several Google alerts of people blogging about their experiences with the Complaint Free challenge. I have been invited to deliver keynote addresses at dozens of conventions and conferences for many types of organizations, from federal agencies and Fortune 20 companies to schools, churches, hospitals, and civic organizations. This truly has become a phenomenon that continues to grow and expand and I am touched, honored, and amazed to be a part of it.
This is all very exciting. However, what is most gratifying are the thousands of people who have stayed with the challenge (and challenge it can be) to go 21 consecutive days without complaining. We have a link at our website,, where people can let us know that they have completed 21 days without complaining, and we have received confirmation from people around the world who have made being Complaint Free a habit.
But one day, as I was sitting on a plane waiting to fly out to deliver a speech to several hundred corporate leaders about developing Complaint Free organizations, I had an epiphany. I was thinking about the Complaint Free program and was struck with what some might call a blinding flash of the obvious.
Yes, our lives are a reflection of our thoughts—this has been said by philosophers and leaders of every stripe for thousands of years. Yes, it’s important for us to monitor what we are saying, as it indicates what we are thinking. Yes, this can be accomplished by the simple exercise of switching a bracelet from wrist to wrist until we become Complaint Free. All this is true.
The epiphany I experienced that day was that nearly all complaining is based on relationships.
Complaining is almost always about another person—a person with whom we are in some sort of relationship. The relationship may be formal, such as a marriage or work relationship, or it may be an informal relationship, such as with a customer we are serving or a person living in the next apartment. The relationship may be fleeting, such as with someone we pass in traffic, or it may span decades, such as our relationship with our family.
Because I am a minister, people often come to me for counseling and in nearly every case the challenge they are facing is a relationship challenge. In most of these counseling sessions, I discover that the relationship problems are either created or exacerbated by them complaining to or about the person with whom they share the relationship. As I delved into the subject, I discovered copious research has been done on the negative effects of complaining on relationships.
As early as 1938, a study by Lewis Terman showed that unhappy couples were distinguished from happy ones by the extent to which they reported their partner being argumentative, critical, and nagging (i.e., complaining). And in “A Descriptive Taxonomy of Couples’ Complaint Interactions,” originally published in the Southern Speech Communication Journal in 1989, Dr. J. K. Alberts states, “Diverse research indicates that negativity and negative communication are positively correlated with relational dissatisfaction.” In other words, unhappy relationships are most often distinguished by complaining.
You may think, “But relationships are challenging, so why not complain?” Complaining gets out our frustrations so we don’t have pent-up anger and res...


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (December 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385529759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385529754
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Will Bowen is a catalyst for personal transformation. He has been featured on "Oprah," NBC's "Today Show," ABC's "World News Tonight," CBS "Sunday Morning," "Fox News," "The Wall Street Journal," "Newsweek," "People," "O," "Self," "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and in hundreds of media stories around the world.

A Complaint Free World, the non-profit organization he founded, has sent more than 10 million Complaint Free bracelets to 106 countries.

Will Bowen's books have sold millions of copies around the world and he was a 2014 Audie Award Finalist for "Best Narration of a Personal Development book."

Bowen regularly speaks to audiences presenting practical, life-changing programs for tens of thousands of people around the world. Clients include:

*The Million Dollar Roundtable's "Top of the Table"
* Volvo Motor Company
* Price Waterhouse Coopers
* The Human Resource Professionals Association (HRPA)
* Pratt & Whitney
* Kimberly Clark

Web sites:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By TosaTat VINE VOICE on May 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Will Bowen has done it again! I attended his Complaint Free Living Retreat several years ago and found it to be inspiring. As time passed, I fell off the complaint free way of thinking. Looking for a way back into a more peaceful life, I bought this book from Amazon. This was exactly what I needed to remind me of what I learned at the retreat. Each chapter builds off the previous chapter.

Chapter 1 - Relating In Relationships
Chapter 2 - When Worlds Collide
Chapter 3 - Getting Your Needs Met
Chapter 4 - Why We G.R.I.P.E. (get attention, remove yourself from responsibility, inspire envy or brag, have power over someone, or excuse your poor performance)
Chapter 5 - Getting It Out
Chapter 6 - The Primary Relationship
Chapter 7 - It's Not personal; It's Personal

At the end of each chapter there are exercises that help reinforce the lessons from the chapter and pleasantly encourage no complaining. I have been using the techniques in the book and wearing the bracelet I got from the retreat. The techniques really do work. There is more peace in my life. It really is up to me on how I react to others. everyone is responsible for their own behavior and I will not take that upon myself. I will do my part in being peaceful and spreading positivity.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants or needs a positive change in their life. It is possible.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R.Hayden on April 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read Will Bowen's Complaint Free Relationship right as I was starting a brand new relationship and I feel that some of the techniques I learned from this book have made all the difference in my relationship. Complaint Will Bowen points out that everyone operates under their own perception of reality. Jumping to conclusions about why a person says or acts a certain way and false assumptions about situations can create confrontations/complaining that can be toxic to relationships, and is not necessary! When you stop complaining, your partner will most likely not have anything to complain about either. I've found this to be so true. Understanding that when someone hurts your feelings, they are most of the time unaware that they have done so until the complaint is brought up, thus sparking natural defense which leads to more complaining! It's a vicious cycle that can stop today and you can enjoy all the happiness you deserve!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Allen on July 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You dont actually have to convince anyone else to read it for it to be helpful to making your relationships better.
It's a simple process handed to you in small, digestible, doses.
Just read it.
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By Jasmine 94901 on July 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I loved A Complaint Free World so bought this, expecting it to be a little new stuff and a lot rehash, like many self-help authors do, but there was more new stuff than I thought there'd be. I find his books so easy to read and so inspiring. I have always struggled with being assertive and he has great advice on how to improve that. I don't think he uses the word assertiveness but that's what he's talking about at times. He also tells stories about himself that aren't always flattering, so I feel inspired but never judged.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ken on March 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There were a lot of great insights in this book. It gave me some wonderful aha moments and helped me understand why I was reacting in certain situations the way I was. I also liked that he didn't advocate that people stay in toxic relationships. He just helped the reader see what could be worked on and what we could step away from.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants better skills to work through relationships.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book or audio book. Will introduces the definition of "relationship" in a whole new way that has made major impact in the way I have been able to succeed at strengthening the relationships and handling differences. Will's transparency of sharing personal experiences and analogies like eulogy of loved one and horseback riding to illustrate perceptions and communication in relationships is phenomenal. I highly recommend this read/listen and urge to spread the word! Thank you Will :)
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I Love this book!! Such a simple solution to make all the difference in the world.. The facts are good, and the chapters are each very interesting and easy to read.. Mr Bowen says it so well, and I got it!! The bracelets they sell are a great tangible way to work the program in the book, and it just takes a moment to make the change each time... If you want to be jhappier, I HIGHLY recommend this book!!! signed, lisa who complains a lot less now!! in Oregon the rain even!!
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By By jupiter! on August 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Will Bowen, has taken much of the difficulty out of this most complex and often misunderstood subject. His book is peppered with his own valuable insights in dealing with relationship matters. It is not a book to read and toss away, but keep it as a reference book until you can master all the nuances he has given, to improve all your relationships.
And I am certain if you can follow his insights your relationships will all improve overnight.
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