Saturday, May 05, 2007
Positive thinking isn't a new concept, but Bowen's spin came with a contemporary twist: the silicone bracelet. At the July sermon, Bowen handed out about 250 purple bracelets he wanted his congregants to use to remind themselves to stop complaining, criticizing or gossiping. Sarcasm was another no-no.
It's an evangelical scapular, and it seems to be catching on:
The bracelets and the no-complaining challenge were a hit with church members, who came back looking for more bracelets, which the church gives out free. People at their offices wanted them. Family, friends, students wanted the purple bracelet and to take the 21-day challenge.
By October, reporters came calling. After the initial burst of publicity, the church sent out more than 1 million free bracelets. Requests came in via the church's Web site from around the world -- Russia, South America, Asian countries. Some Pentagon employees began using the bracelets, which they kept on their desks because they weren't allowed to wear them, said Tom Alyea, a church board member who has been coordinating the no-complaining effort with Bowen.
....Since Bowen's appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in March, volunteers have taken orders for more than 4 million bracelets. They've been coming in to the Web site at about 1,000 a day, Alyea said.
But some see this as dangerous:
But Barbara S. Held, psychology professor at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, said Bowen's approach is misguided. Complaining is an important, necessary tool for some people, she said.
"If we lived in a world in which there was nothing to complain about I think it might make perfect sense," Held said. "But we don't."
Held, author of the book Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining, said people cope in different ways and some people need to vent. "The tyranny of the positive attitude in America, which Reverend Bowen wants to spread to the entire world" can actually hurt some people, she said.
"The research is compelling. When you force people to use a coping style that goes against their nature their functioning goes down," she said. "I'm not pushing pessimism. I'm saying let people cope in the way they cope and don't make them feel defective."
Some people's coping style involves beating the crap out of other people, but we force them to find a better way - or at least we try. And of course, no one is being forced not to complain, they're just being offered an alternative coping style. The little bracelets wouldn't have become popular if people didn't feel their own complaining natures were a problem.
Which they can be. Constructive criticism isn't a fault, but constant complaining for the sake of complaining is. We see this a lot in medicine- patients who refuse or reject every treatment recommendation for a specific complaint but then continue to return with the same complaint. All treatment options have been exhausted, and still the complaints continue. It's usually at that point that the realization hits that all they want is someone to listen to them. Once in a rare while someone will say right at the outset, before the mega-work up - "I don't want you to do anything about it. I just want to complain," but that takes a degree of self-awareness that's extremely rare.
posted by Sydney on 5/05/2007 09:45:00 AM 1 comments
hmmm, if the books is entitled "kvetching" me thinks the expert's spidey sense may have detected a cultural attack on complaining ... anyway, I thought you and your readers might enjoy this digi-short about doctors/med/tech/law