Real Mind Control: The 21-Day No-Complaint Experiment

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The thought-awareness bracelet and the latest straw that broke the camel’s back.

“This $@#&ing Mac will be the death of me. Intuitive, my ass.”

It just slipped out, and I don’t think I can be blamed. I was ready to leave the PC behind and take my mac overseas for the first time when I couldn’t figure out how to resize photos. On a friggin’ mac? I felt swindled. I also now had to move the bracelet.

For the last four months, I’ve been experimenting with a few types of thought experiments. The two most notable are Radical Honesty, which is 100% guaranteed to get you slapped or worse, and anti-complaining, which I’ll explain here. The latter started in my book agent’s office, where I spotted a pile of purple bracelets on his desk…

“What are these?” I grabbed one and it was inscribed with ‘acomplaintfreeworld.org.’

“Another author of mine. Interesting story, actually.”

And it was. The author was Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister who had recognized — as I have in a previous post — that word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. It’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though. It requires conditioning.

Will designed a solution in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he offered to his congregation with a challenge: go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day 0. It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training.

The effects were immediate and life-changing.

The bracelets spread like wildfire as others observed these transformations, and, to date, more than 5,900,000 people have requested the little devices.

“Can I have one?” I asked my agent.

It all made perfect sense. Fix the words and you fix the thoughts. I’m not a negative person, but I wanted to cut out the commiserating most of us use for 30-40% of all conversation (if you don’t believe me, keep track of how many people start conversations with you in the next 24 hours that center on a complaint or criticism).

I made it 11 days on the first attempt, then I slipped. Back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month. Once I cleared 21 days at around month 3, I no longer needed the bracelet. I’m using the bracelet again now because I’m preparing for some large projects I expect to be challenging enough for Cornholio-style meltdowns.

But what is a complaint?

This is where I disagree with some of the rules set by Will. He asks you to switch wrists whenever you gossip, criticize, or complain, and the definitions can be a bit vague. He also requires you to switch wrists if you inform someone else they are complaining. I think this is counterproductive, as I’m big on constructive criticism.

I defined “complaining” for myself as follows: describing an event or person negatively without indicating next steps to fix the problem. I later added the usual 4-letter words and other common profanity as complaint qualifiers, which forced me to reword, thus forcing awareness and more precise thinking.

Following the above definition, both of the following would require a wrist switch:

“Man, I went into the post office and had to stand behind this rude jerk for 30 minutes. What a waste of time.”

or

“John can be such an a**hole. Totally uncalled for.”

The following variations would not:

“Man, I went into the post office and had to stand behind this rude guy for 30 minutes. It was a waste of time. From now on, I’ll go in the mornings before 10am to avoid the crowd.”

“John was a bit of muppet in there, wasn’t he? I suppose I’ll just send the e-mails directly to Mary in engineering for the next two weeks to get buy-in, then he’ll have to agree.”

Here are a few of the changes I noticed then and am noticing again now:

1) My lazier thinking evolved from counterproductive commiserating to reflexive systems thinking. Each description of a problem forced me to ask and answer: What policy can I create to avoid this in the future?

2) I was able to turn off negative events because the tentative solution had been offered instead of giving them indefinite mental shelf-life (and “open loop” in GTD parlance), resulting in better sleep and more pleasant conversations with both friends and business partners.

3) People want to be around action-oriented problem solvers. Training yourself to offer solutions on-the-spot attracts people and resources.

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For those interested in the more sophisticated applications and results of the the no-complaint thought experiment, I recommend you order a copy of A Complaint-Free World. I received an advanced copy and finished it in one afternoon, ending up with two pages of notes.

Want to take the 21-day no-complaint challenge for a test drive now?

Last a friend checked, the bracelets had a 3-5-month waiting period, but a rubber band or other bracelet will suffice. If you want the real deal, I have four bracelets that I will mail (might take a bit, as I’m leaving the country Friday) to the best four commenters below who answer the question:

What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 700 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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734 Replies to “Real Mind Control: The 21-Day No-Complaint Experiment”

  1. I know this post is from long ago and of course I don’t want a bracelet, but I think people should stop punishing. Receiving a punishment for something you did wrong doesn’t really solve anything. Anyone who makes a mistake should be talked into understanding why what they did was wrong and then asked to try and repair it. Of course not everything is just as easy as that but again punishment is an easy way out that doesn’t solve anything.

  2. Just read the “radical honesty” article. How did your own ‘radical honesty’ experiment go? Did you ever blog about it?

  3. Thanks to Tim for the original post and for the many follow up comments. In one of them, Adam suggested we create a documentary on the Complaint Free World. We just finished a movie titled, “A Complaint Free Revolution” that’s premiered the same day my second book “Complaint Free Relationships” came out. You can find out more at our web site.

  4. Loved the article!

    Can’t believe it took from September 07 to February 10 for me to read. Two and a half years to get to New Zealand.. Where are we the other side of the world? Hmmm… Is there a fix for that? Mental note: think of strategy to bring NZed closer

  5. Took me about one a half years of trying.

    Finally did it. No complaints, no negativity and no swear words.

    My record is 55 days. Which ended today. I started last New Year.

    Gotta say, it felt so satisfying to finally swear again.

  6. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Personally, I think people should stop being Pessimistic. Really? Negative thinking brings about complaining, bad feelings and all around “Eyore” syndrome. I think the way we turn negative thinking around at first is to say 5 positive things about the surroundings or people around you. Then work to 10 and more and more.

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    I am a person that believes that within 6 degrees of separation I can network with anyone!! I would access a restaurant that needs a little advertisement that has great food, but bad marketing. Ask them to host my party for free advertisement and press. Then as an added bonus, I would find a karaoke band (NOT A DJ) and have karaoke and food!! Everyone remembers their friends and VIPs who sing poorly. Some of my best memories are with friends and bad singing. The karaoke band would do it for little or no cost for the same reason as the restaurant, more free publicity and press. I would then send out press releases announcing the event so that the media can cover the event. Fun and for little to no cost!

  7. I’m reminded of a spiritual teacher in San Francisco named Joe Miller. Joe took Tilopa’s teachings and boiled them down to the “Four C’s,” which were “Complain not, criticize not, compare not, condemn not.” So, there’s a suggestion for what else. Joe also said “Thinkin’ gets you stinkin’ worse than drinkin’, but to feel is for real.” Actually, Joe said a lot, and if you can find the book Great Song, it’s quite fun.

    Mental diets are wonderful for shaking up our habits, and freeing us from all the schmutz that sticks to us from bad thinking. Something like the way smokers don’t notice how they smell of cigarettes, we don’t notice what sticks to us from what we say and do. But others do, and our magnetism sure increases when it’s gone, or even diminished.

  8. “keep track of how many people start conversations with you in the next 24 hours that center on a complaint or criticism”

    I would lose count. I work with nurses and it’s been my experience that the medical community is one of the worst complaining fields to go into. No one’s ever happy with where they’re at, how much they’re getting, how the machines work or how much paperwork they have to do (which btw is WAY too much to be honest)

    I do have this on my list though, go a month without complaining. I’ll have to get one of these bracelets to help me out. the list –> http://www.zachstravels.com/101things

  9. I was on the phone just now and thought about this post 🙂

    The ultimate way to stop complaining for good, is to become the best friend of someone who complains a lot .. I mean a LOT .. about everything you can imagine (or probably can’t). That way you’ll find yourself in a position where you try to talk some sense into your friend all the time, developing a dislike towards complaints and other manifestations of negative thought. You might even develop saint-like patience 🙂

  10. Good advice, but for those people who have empathic talents or relating skills, they might find themselves affirming those complaints or even introducing new ones to relate to the person. So watch out, be aware of yourself.

  11. I think one thing that might help this challenge is envisioning yourself as a complaint free person already,owning the title.

    Waking up everyday seeing yourself as someone whose upbeat,filled with joy,and who never complains about a thing…

  12. “What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?”

    How about doubting themselves? As it has been said, those who cannot DO, become critics. I know that people who complain, complain because whatever is causing them to moan hasn’t happened for them. Focus on the front, where you want to go, and you won’t notice where others are or what they are doing. Keep your eye on your goal and you won’t have time to notice what others are doing, therefore reducing moaning and discontent.

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    Firstly, I would turn the VIP from Very Important People to Very Insignificant People. Make the event something that they want to be a part of and not something they feel they are a superstar of. How does one do that? Make the cause larger than the egos. I would actually get them to pay to show up. How does one determine, even more so, how does one get determined, that they are a VIP? Likeability? Bank Account? Media Attention?

    This rating is so cheap these days, it takes a real class act to sustain a VIP rating.

    To answer the question of how I would make it more memorable or fun, I would just ask those that were there to look around and take note of the colleagues that are worthwhile, as my most memorable times are with those that were worth spending time with. Those are times worth remembering. When you spend time with good people, for good reasons, you don’t need gimmicks.

  13. I love this post. The entire blog is so enriching.

    Day one of – The 21 Day No Complaint Diet – starts now.

  14. Hi everyone this is my first post but I got to trow my two cents on this. What a great Idea. I have been making changes to my thinking for the past week. I was inspired by the book Consolations of philosophy http://www.amazon.com/Consolations-Philosophy-Alain-Botton/dp/0679779175 There was a section about Seneca and Consolation for Frustration. How often I have been mad about the smallest things. I have applied some stoic principles to my life now and I feel incredibly calm and at ease now. I was very anxious before.

    Today I started the wristband experiment. I followed your advise and almost survived the first day. Until I exploded to my sister about the way she handles her computer. So tomorrow is day 0 again. Wish me luck. And I specially liked Tim’s idea on giving solutions to your frustrations and complaints. I applied this method too because it made the whole experiment more active. Can’t wait for to morrow to see how this method will change my daily life. It will somehow. I know this ’cause it already has.

    1. Hi Otto!

      Very glad for you and wish you success! You are my HERO! 🙂 Because people used to compain and rarely change themselves.

      I tried this method three years ago when I read one book (unfortunatly don’t remember the name) where author recommended to put rubber bracelet on hand and use it everytime when you are thinking bad about yourself or will let negative thoughts go on. I tried it…really it works, when you are starting to control your negative thoughts you are switching on how to solve occured problem and become Solver but not Complain-dealer :).

      wiSH YOU goood luck!

      With respect to you,

      Rumiya

  15. Hi Tim!

    Maybe my post is too late but I would like to express myself :).

    1. Maybe you should redesign your question in another way, because you are asking how to stop i e to struggle the complaint. What is the opposite for complaining? – GRATITUDE!

    I think better to ask – how to start being gratitude? 🙂 We all are accustomed to live in a position of victim and think that everybody are obliged to us and rarely ready to serve others. Let’s start being gratitude! 🙂

    2. No budget, VIP guests. Hm…In case I knew details I would find out the pics and video of movie stars from 60-70-80-90 and make a prsentation or a lively interractive game where would compare all the guests with these Movie and TV Stars and request the matched VIP guest to prove it by acting somethig peculiar to the STar they are compared. Nostalgia is a door that opens heart of many people :).

    Rumiya

  16. I love the idea of this, but I worry my husband would think a “solution” would be something like, “Jesus, this countertop is a mess, you should clean it.”

    I also think that many criticisms are actually complaints, ie “he’s an a@@hole” is really sometimes “he won’t do what I want, the way I want it, and I say he should,” or, “That shirt doesn’t look good on you,” really means “You don’t look like I want you to, and you should.”

    So I would also take criticism off the table. “Don’t bring a problem, bring a solution.” klb

  17. the third point you made is really an important point to make. The thing is, in today’s world we are so focused on expressing our emotions or at least acting irrationally on our emotions.

    We tend to feel better when we express how bad we feel or how frustrated we feel.

    I think it has to do with people’s laziness when it comes to this kind of behavior. Why are we not focused on solving problems? why do we always need to blow up situations and then talk about how bad we feel when in truth, diverging that energy into actually problem solving could be a whole lot more productive.

    I think i’ll try this wrist band thing. I know from personal experience that problem solving attitude does attract similar minded people and more resources. Maybe the wrist band thing will indeed work 🙂

  18. I did this once a few years ago to stop the four letter words. Instead of a bracelet I used a rubberband and snapped it if I swore. it worked fabulously but probably not as attractive on the eye. Made it easy to share with others when they say my actions though.

    I ordered you 4 Hour Body book and started the slow carb diet last Tuesday…I am stuffed!!! Started the PAGG today as I was just able to get to the health food shop to purchase. I teach mind body and dance and I already see an energy increase..thank you

    Looking forward to working with the kettle ball.

    Looking forward to getting your book read. Happy Blissful New Year!

  19. For the more negative or less confident among us the definition might be ‘describing an event, person, or personal capability negatively without indicating next steps to fix the issue.’

    Thanks for another gem Tim.

  20. This is a great post and even though it’s years later in reality I’m going to track down that book and take these practices into serious consideration for myself. I agree with the compromise on what constitutes negativity.

    1. Wear a bracelet (or button, or special shoelace) that reminds you to smile. I guess the action we would be stopping is stopping some of the unnecessary blockage we develop that limits the initiation of positive thinking. Being in a positive mindset can probably influence the quality of on-the-spot solutions the mind exercise described above is intended to produce.

    2. Meet in a public place (Golden Gate park, etc.). Give every exec a simple activity (smile, shake hands, share a secret) and give them one hour to find a stranger to influence to perform the required activity. Share experiences and tips. If this was a real party, I hope it worked out.

  21. I am so loving the responses for this particular post. Having read through the some of the comments on previous posts, it’s amazing how people have been able to control or suppress some ‘destructive’ criticisms for the mere chance of winning Tim’s bracelet.

    Good job Tim, you rock!

  22. One kind of behaviour I think people should try to avoid is expressing their opinions as if they were facts. Adding qualifiers like “I think” – as in the previous sentence – can help with this. Some good pattern interrupts:

    – when you notice someone else doing it, ask, “Is that a fact or just your opinion?”

    – when you notice yourself doing it, add, “But that’s just my opinion.”

  23. What kind of behaviour should people stop? I think everyone should stop taking things personally. Other people’s reactions and behaviours are about themselves. How they react to things is based on their values and self beliefs, not about you. Even bullies are thinking about how they would be viewed, not about how it makes you feel. How much easier would it be to move through things if we didn’t assume people’s actions or reactions were about us?

  24. Complaining is “in my roots” so to speak, and I’ve battled staying out of complain land for many years. Last summer I gave my friend free licence to have 50 dollars every time he heard me complain.

    Obviously I wouldn’t throw away that kind of money off the bat, but the REALLY valuable experience I got out of this experiment, was that he always tried to tempt me to complain.

    By facing the temptation, I was really able to make a shift away from complaining. Someone should try this.

  25. A behaviour we need to stop especially from women and more becoming from men is hating ourselves and our looks. The world is now a place of plastic surgery and “youre not attractive enough” slogans its hard to love oneself as one is. People talk about the rubber band that you snap, and this is a well known tool used by anorexics who snap it when they think of food. We live in a world where girls are conditioning themselves to not think of food, ever!.

    One way to fix our self loathing could be to give yourself a horrible disfigurement for a short period, then when you got yourself back you would love yourself as you were maybe? Or we could all stop getting surgery, and put on something sexy and look at what we have to offer. Maybe snap the band when you hate your fat bits, big nose, long arms. And then reming yourself of something good, your great hair, legs, smile (we all have things) . Go out in something you feel sexy in. I notice people wearing slippers to the mall. Smile at strangers and know they find you attractive, imagine they are looking at your great points. Know they are jealous of your great hair, legs smile.

    Everybody likes different things not just models. My mother is very attractive and she finds big bald hairy men very sexy, I like big beefy guys and my sister likes the tall very thin arty types. I see men spending their savings trying to save their hair in a losing battle when many women find bald very attractive. Or women hiding their jiggly bits because they arent model thin, 2% of the population are, so they spend their lives unhappy? We are wasting our lives being something we are not when people think we are sexy as we are. So I am about to get up, shower and put an outfit on that will make me feel like the goddess that I am. Jiggly bits and all.

  26. I know I’m late to the party,so I hope the is someone here to read this.

    First unproductive behavior is excuses. I had a band director tell his band “Excuses are just reasons for failure”. So many times we as a population we say the quickest,easiest thing so we don’t look bad or lazy or whatever word you wish to add here. Just stop and think when you are preparing your excuse,rehearsing it, all for the perfect show. If you had put that much energy into the project or homework or just being on time. You would have completed the project. Because we all know the greater importance the project, the more elaborate the excuse, and people see right thru it. Is that how you want to be known?

    As for the party. Everyone has to wear clothes from their closet that they haven’t worn. Removes that clothes are my armour safety net. Now everyone brings a dish that begins with the first letter of their first name.

    Request people only bring finger food.

    Food taken care of.

    Get some street musician or group to play for $400 plus food. music taken care of.

    Local park with pavillion should work. Rental is usually cheap,covered, has electric and restrooms are around. Some elbow grease maybe required. Bring extra TP. Or the other option is to name drop to the Parks Director as you inform them of your gathering and how you are so excited to show off the city’s park’s. Things (good) will happen.

    If one guest is at a total loss of what to bring, or has an excuse, well they are bringing the paper products . Plates and napkins taken care of.

    Now for activity popscicle sticks,glue and paint. Have people divide into groups of 10. Have them create something with these sticks i.e. a piece of playground equipment for the very park they are in. Encourage them to let their imagination run, remember when they were kids what did they want? Have them name it? The non-builders of the group can design a kid friendly fund raiser. Hopefully everyone will feel good at the end of the night. Learn something about the people they are working with, help kids and smile.

  27. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Being a victim. By that, I mean waiting for a circumstance or another’s action to resolve an issue. If we can remind ourselves to keep asking “what can *I* do to resolve this, or what could I have done, or what did I do to create this situation”, we can start to shift into being responsible for what we do. When we are the cause of what happens in our lives, we have power. And only then.

  28. Stop sarcasm and start wording phrases positively

    Our lives gravitate toward what our brains focus on. The war on poverty has created more poverty, the war on drugs has created more drug users. If you are focusing on the negative that’s what you get.

    I’ve also heard that our suboncious does not understand the differnce between sarcasm and not.

    When in the english language do 2 positives result in a negative? yeah, right…

  29. Tim and PA’s,

    I’m sure you have many poeple asking for your advice on health and fitness, if your ever looking to set up a gym or any result based fitness business to help this massive amount of people please contact me for assistance! I have a great understanding and appreciation for your books.

    I have have helped take 2,000 pounds of fat off of people. (I’m only 27) I’m very familiar with all the testing out there. CPX, metabolic, DEXA… etc. Please email me if you’d like a copy of my resume for your files.

    Thanks, Matt

  30. I guess I’m confused. In your second set of examples, you called one guy rude and the other a muppet. How is that less complaining/criticizing/? Based on YOUR definition you could still call John an ***hole, but decide to email him from now on and still achieve your goal. Better examples might be:

    I was unhappy with my experience at the post office so I’ll go another time.

    I’ll start email John to avoid further problems.

  31. I think a band for lustful and non-virtuous thoughts for men would be as tough as not complaining is for women. The positive effects on couples would be amazing!

  32. I think one way to put unwanted behaviour into perspective is to make a joke (or thought experiment if you’re on your own) of amusing different ways it could be taken to an extreme – like this classic from Monty Python – http://www.montypython.net/scripts/tour.php – “What’s the point of going abroad if you’re just another tourist …”

  33. For the 1,000 thing I know it sounds silly but wouldn’t it be fun to introduce the braclet technique? I think a lot of people would benefit from it and the night would go off great when everyone is thinking positively. you could give each person a braclet or a form of the braclet as a reminder. It would even be more fun if they could make their own personal braclet. It would be fun and a reminder of being positive. It could carry into the work place and they might introduce it to others. who knows it might make the world a better place!

    for behaviors and such regarding use of the braclet I think a lot of us are hard on ourselves as well as others. maybe not only taking away a day for negativity but adding one for major positivity might be an idea. Otherwise some might think they will never finish…lol… I myself fall into tht catagory of being too hard on myself. Oh just finished your book and cant wait to start the life style changes for fatloss. thanks for the great intel!!

  34. I wouldn’t find the post office situation anything other than pleasurable. The more frustrating and annoying the more opportunity to work on self control, and non attachment. Without labels there is no attachement as the mind can only dwell upon that which it stops.

    For the party I would fill the floor with sand. I wouldn’t tell them and would request they remove their shoes socks and roll up their trousers when they arrived.

    Ps. Yea I know the topic is old but it’s in Tims favourites so i felt it must have value.

  35. Tim,

    The world is full of hypocrites and small, so called white lies. And we wont mention the big ones…its become commonplace and almost socially acceptable to say stuff to fit in or to please that you dont mean.

    I have done this many times and each time I do this I find myself afterwards thinking ” oh man, you did it again!”

    I would like a band to switch sides each time i catch myself being untrue to myself or to my higher principles.

    Seems benign, but dont forget, it also enhances self-awareness, another important aspect to self development, if not the very foundation itself.

    I just hope the band is lomg lasting and very elastic, it will have a lifetime of frequent switcheing ahead..hehe..

    I also want to tell you that you are changing my life with your books. Myself a life experiemnter find a lot of what you write and have done is highly relevant to my own life and has been experimented with already. I have been into the chinese ancient methods of health and find a lot of inspiration there. And… Lots of experiemt material!

    Life is so interesting when you the whole globe in all the different facets and people. We can learn so much from others…amazing!

    Sharing is the key. Keep sharing with us, dude. You are easy to read and that makes it fun.

    Cheers, from somewhere on the road

    J.

  36. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could (they) train themselves to stop?

    ?Shallow breathing. Henna or temporary tattoo with a choice of breathing symbols that remind you to take a few deep breaths all the way in and out.

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    ?Parimutuel betting on unusual animal racing (I’ve seen crab racing and they had turtles on a recent House episode).

    ?Mixers where people can interact electronically only for a certain period and then meet each other and try to figure out who was who, again with a time limit. Might offer prizes for the first couple to find each other, most contradictory exchange.

    ?City tour of unusual places; famous brothels, places that are the opposite of what they were, boring places that are amazing or have amazing histories.

    ?Learning and shared experiences are some of the cheapest ways to make good memories.

  37. Behaviours to stop:

    dominating conversation – whether its a person you’ve just met or a long standing friend. Most conversations between two people are dominated by one, primarily due to insecurities about themselves.

    How to train themselves:

    When starting the conversation ask the other person a question, any questions, rather than making a statement or talking to them. Could be any question – how are you, what have you been up to today, how are the kids, etc? And give them the time and attention to let them finish.

    VIP part idea:

    Ask guests before the event to answer a question, and publish results during party – question could be anything topical or thought-provoking and is likely to produce eyebrow-raising results – and one that is likely to encourage action to a particular cause/initiative.

    Also, playing 80s music (should be in right age bracket) – good music is always a great way to soften the mood and get people to loosen up.

  38. Pretty very good post. I just stumbled on your blog site and desired to say that I have truly loved reading through your blog posts. Any way I Am Going To be subscribing to your feed and I hope you publish once again soon.

  39. We, (all of us humans collectiveally) need to use Gratitude daily to keep our balance, to remember what is really important….

    Too much of our time is spent in mistreating ourselves, tearing down that which we have spent so much time in building it in the first place!

    Mainly by bad habits like “stinking thinking” (Zig Ziglar’s phrase) are nutured by us most times subconsciously and in our worst times, out loud consciously!

    Bonus:

    To make the event a memorable one with little or no budget…

    1. Use a public venue that holds special meaning in either city…an art gallery that used to be a school, library, etc.

    2. Harness the creative component readily available in either city that can help to make it a one of a kind event thru their own creativity & passion!

    a. Hold a contest offering a cash award AND being put on the Planning team for the event to make full use of their gits being offered.

    3. Create a “Giving” theme so the bulk of the proceeds that are raised thru various activities can be shared with the charity or charities chosen by the team.

    a. Activities could be Silent Auction of items offered by Team members, invited guests and businesses that want an introduction to the guests.

    4. Coordinate the event for maximum impact on all attendees to leave the lasting message that is to be transmitted …i.e.–Giving—Bracelets(Like your idea!), business card that is to be given to others who need the message…

    Something that makes the person smile or laugh makes it work better!

    Cordially,

    Jeff Coutts

  40. I would have to say that I struggle the most with negative self talk… I Tell myself the opposite of what I really want to hear and believe just because I have heard it, seen examples of it, or felt it or said it to myself before.

    The truth of the situation being that I can change everything by believing differently comes latter response not first nature… I still tell myself crap like, “I cant have what I want” constantly and I have to shut it down manually every time.. I believe its killing my effectiveness. A way to kill this complex permanently would be amazing! Positive Experiments in what you can actually accomplish if you eliminate doubt and believe you can could be momentous.

    As for the city… I like dduncombs idea about mixers.. I think this would be really interesting.. fun of course but mostly interesting.. to re-post his idea:

    ?Mixers where people can interact electronically only for a certain period and then meet each other and try to figure out who was who, again with a time limit. Might offer prizes for the first couple to find each other, most contradictory exchange.

  41. I don’t know if you get time to read our comments or not but I really love your blogs Tim Ferriss. The first thing I do each morning is read at least something from your blog or your book 4HWW. I’m really interested in reading Entrepreneurship, Internet Marketing, Self Development, Public Speaking and much more, its amazing how I find most of the areas get covered up in your blog.

    You mentioned Radical Honesty here, I didn’t really like that book but when I started listening to this guy Perzan Irani from the Rawbrahs’ team

    (on Facebook and YouTube) I find it damn interesting. They like you as they live your kind of lifestyle, travelling, eating healthy, workouts, retreats, radical honesty & lot more, I think you should watch their video for once.

    I just completed MBA and before few months was looking for a job but Thanks Tim, through your blogs I’ve realized that I should follow my dreams & now I’m finding ways to turn them into reality of Public Speaking and being an Entrepreneur.

    Please at least once write something that encourages me to fulfill my dreams as I feel like you are my mentor. Thanks. 🙂

      1. Wow….Thank you Tim, that’s really sweet of you to reply me. You should make a trip to India as there are people (me) who love listening to you live. 🙂

      2. You know Tim, I wake up to two things, one is your comment above and other Steve Jobs’ two Quotes of Crazy Ones & about following Heart & Intuition. I’ve watched all your videos from masterlock77 and can get a clear picture of your struggle, enjoyed most of ’em right from China Scam, Squatting in China & that break dance was amazing until your last random episode.

        My real B-school is your blog and I love suggesting it to many like the day before yesterday when someone needed help in writing, sent a link of your post of John Romaniello. Where I live in India its all about sending girls to kitchen (though I love cooking over a decade now) & if work then its either bank or school. But the moment I completed MBA read 4HWW & your blog hence determined to be an Entrepreneur and turn my ideas to a startup and an app.

        My real intention is to help education sector through a smart way out but that’s not an issue now. I wanna fund ideas myself by working.

        Would you please help me as I’m confused at a point? I tried not disturbing you as you get tons of e-mail as per your tweet yesterday but really need a mentor right now. You know sometimes we need a coach or mentor and if that’s you! Thanks. 🙂

  42. When I first heard of the 21-Day No-Complaint Experiment it was through this website. I liked the concept, but I agreed with Tim on the idea that not being able to tell others when they are complaining was counterproductive. So I thought about why Will Bowen would have that a part of his rules. I came to the conclusion that while constructive criticism is always good, people do not want to hear someone correcting them, even if it is a minister or an all-around good person. I also came to the idea that before you can help others, you must help yourself. That means, in this case, that if one wants to tell others that they are complaining, they must first pass the test the themselves. The experiment seems to not only attempt to stop complaining, but also general comments and statements that people do not want to hear. Thank you Tim for have this post; it is fantastic. And thank you Will Bowen for writing the book.

  43. I like it but I want to add one modification: no complaining unless you use Olde English. Example: “This iPhone update doth vex me sore!”

  44. Thank you, I have just been searching for information approximately this subject for a long time and yours is the best I’ve discovered till now. But, what concerning the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?

  45. Ahh…love this! I’ve been complaining about complaining for weeks! Enough already! I’ve put my own complaining to the test and so far…1 day. But then…I’m taking it 1 day at a time. 🙂

    Thanks for a great book! – My bible is the 4-hour workweek, and I’m getting into it…soaking it up and doing as much as I can. Taking it with me everywhere for when I have that extra minute. I plan on having lots of leisure time very soon. Thanks Tim!

  46. Tim, I know I am waaaaaay late on this thread, but I had to say this.

    This is awesome.

    At uni, a girl (that I was trying to hook up with) and I would frequently give ourselves “Suicidal Honesty Week” challenges, where we were prohibited from telling a single lie for an entire week. It sucked. But by the end of the week we always felt refreshed and focused.

    Thanks for sharing this amazing post. Cheers!

  47. As you said, this is one hell of an eye opening metacognitive exercise. Being aware of your thoughts, and how they translate into your mood and actions, can result in huge improvements in your life. 21 days of no-complaining can easily segway into “21 Days Of (insert habit here) Change”. Educating high school students about metacognition should be as mandatory as Math and Science.

  48. I think that the “poor me” people should use a bracelet. Every time they see life as attacking them they should switch it to the other wrist as it is suggested with the complaining bracelet. I know a lot of people who have been dealt some ugly cards in life (haven’t we all) and they see it as life is attacking them. I personally have lost my mother when I was a very young girl and I took that and made my life better because of it. Whereas my sister is a “poor me” person as described above. She feels as though everyone should feel sorry for her and doesn’t take life in her own hands. I TRY to look at every bad experience and think about how I can turn it into something positive. Out of everything that has ever happened to me that was bad some good came out of it eventually. Although there are many things that you have no control over in life you can change your mind and how you react to the curve balls life throws you. If you used a bracelet or any other way of acknowledging it whether it be a journal or anything for that matter I think that people would be more positive because they could see the negativity for what it is when it appears.

  49. Great article as always. I think just being conscious of your own state of mind and thought process is key. A reminder like this keeps the positive outlook on the forefront of your mind at all times. The best intentions can easily be pushed to the back of the brain before they become part of your habits. I want to start the experiment tomorrow. You cannot control the world around you but you can always control your reaction to it. Something that I constantly have to remind myself and work on.

  50. Oooh! I have taken this one – but only via my word. I am adding a bracelet today.

    Q1: I think people should stop being afraid to ask deep questions of others. There are entire topics that for most people are “off topic” and they are the meaty-est to delve into and really get to know someone.

    My dad told me once to not mention my sex problems with my father-in-law (husband’s father). I didn’t do as he suggested. It was the most eye-opening conversation for both me and my father-in-law; I learned things that my husband doesn’t know about his own dad!

    How to train yourself? Turn it into a game. How quickly can you “get” the other person’s point of view, so that they feel heard more deeply than ever before? You’ll know when they say just that, and they are moved, touched, and inspired. (Or they no longer are so stuck on their point of view). It’s a moving game for the listener (you), too.

    Combining my suggestion with your no-complaint suggestion could really transform conversations around religion, politics, immigration, defense, sex, etc. Talk about solutions and NEW conversations!

    Q2: I would hold a scavenger hunt that had a twitter component. I held a scavenger in South Boston summer 2012 and it was a blast. We combined regular hunt to-dos with historical places people had to visit. A lil’ educational! My budget was $150 (which we didn’t meet).

    I love active group games and even the stuffiest of adults will do a silly pose with a “new friend” or run a half mile to a historical location to win a point. Extra points to share your silliness on twitter/vine/instagram? Fun for the VIPs and for their followers 😉

    Great questions! Thanks for the creative juice, Tim.

  51. I made silicone wristbands as a reminder of my cousin who attempted suicide and I am wearing it all time… I really miss her and I don’t want this to happen in anyone’s life….

  52. Great tips you got there. For me, marketing is a tough industry and your tips nailed them completely. Bookmarked on this and definitely coming back for more! Of course, keep up the good work too.

  53. Worst habit most people need to change is taking out their cellphones during slight lulls in conversation or worse…mid conversation. People need to get more comfortable with not having some form of constant stimulation.

  54. We often hear the phrase, “change your thoughts, change your life.” While this is true because life is consciousness, a more accurate statement is, “change your thoughts, change your behavior, change your life.” Thinking doesn’t necessarily make it so, but it’s the first place to start. We must be willing to move our feet! Oh … and cognitive behavioral techniques rule for a reason! They bring attention to what your thinking, then give you a pattern interrupt to make a physical (behavioral) change.

  55. I think a behaviour that could be worked on is blaming other people/things/circumstances for things that have happened to you.

    Accepting responsibility when it was your decision or choice to do something that went wrong or had a negative conclusion would be a better learning experience and lead to a quicker resolution or solution.

  56. For me… rescuing behavior.

    Instead of offering an often unwanted solution to another person’s problem. I’ll resolve to ask them in a loving and detached fashion what might be a solution to the issue.

    This will keep me from getting emotionally attached to their issue, while getting a better understanding of my friend/business associate and building some real empathy and connection.

  57. Stop blaming others for your life circumstances, whether a person, government or corporation.

    To stop this behaviour you must first develop compassion for yourself, and forgive yourself for the choices that you have made to find yourself in your current situation. Through this you are free to heal, and then perceive greater possibilities for yourself which you can then manifest in your life.

  58. I think the most destructive thoughts are self defeating thoughts. So every time I think or say that I cannot so something, or won’t be able to, or will never be able to and its not based on a lack of self belief and self worth. Particularly for children, this is an important habit to break. Imagine a world where we as adults, believe we can do anything, and en-masse this becomes reality. Humanity would be so much richer. I believe it is not sufficient to have the few (Martin Luther King, Sir Edmund Hillary, Nelson Mandela for example) or should the many hold this as a core belief. This is my world changing thought of the day.

  59. General negativity has been a big problem for me lately. Our work environment has been rather dark considering some issues we have had working within a new business model. In these conditions, even the most positive of people have become negative.

    The best thing I have found to get over this is following the first rule of improv: “Yes, And…” Accept the premise and contribute more. When you are operating under circumstances you cannot control, all you can do is say yes and then try and do it the best way you can. It seems to work in my personal life, as well. I use No to push people away despite wanting to connect more. Yes, and is an adventure and when you have a group committed to it, anything could happen.

  60. Procrastination wristband! … Just do it… Same idea really and like note number 3. It would be focused on action as opposed to procrastination

  61. Starting a project and not finishing it because something more interesting or something with more immediate gratification came along.

  62. I wrote a bit about this with today being National Women’s day. It seems to me that many women (not all of course) have a tendency to be judgmental and competitive towards other women. Whether it is picking apart someone’s looks, weight or outfit…hair color, boyfriend or religion…it is a Mean Girl’s club that has many members. How to change this is…what I am doing for myself is not participating in gossip…by either changing the subject (“Look! A Squirrel!”) or excusing myself (“Look at the time, gotta go!”) or being straightforward (“That is really mean and I don’t agree with you.”) Also looking for the good in others, and offering a smile or hug or a compliment. What a wonderful world it would be if we could change this…a little Pollyannaish I know, but hey, I like Pollyanna! : -)

  63. I personally would like to see people follow through with what they say they are going to do. If that be goals, commitments or other things they say. It isn’t always enough to just write it down. When setting goals for the month week day or other time scale money or something of value can be added to a jar. Every time a task/goal or I said to someone if do that kind of statement is completed the money can come out when it isn’t completed the money must stay in. At the end of each month the money or items must then be taken to a charity of choice. Or to buy the person a presant to say sorry for not doing what I said. Of course in order to be effective this should most Likly be a larger sum of money to the importance of the task or time given to complete such a task. I think this will aid in two things. People will stop saying things they have no intention of really doing. And also will help productivity and prioritisation skills.

  64. Perfect I’m not! Instead I put values on everything. I find more control with my actions this way and should you drag an F bomb out of my month you asked for it! I thought I saw this same feature in you Tim ?

    Here’s how COCO Chanel went about her day –

    “I don’t care what you think about me – I don’t think about you at all”!

  65. I would use this technique to eliminate negative feedback and communications and social media. It’s very easy for people to become supercritical in social media conversations. It seems as though a lot of people are offended when you do not agree with their opinion on the subject. Truth is I think a lot of people are out there looking for reasons to be offended. It’s very easy to fire back with an equally negative comment. I don’t believe this helps anybody. Kind of goes with the 100% honesty experiment you spoke of. 100% honesty just pisses people off. I’m learning to spread more honey and less vinegar. I would like a bracelet please.

  66. Good post. I’m going to give that a try.

    What other behaviour, besides complaining, do you think people should stop?

    I’ve set myself a personal challenge to stop turning to the internet as the first port of call when solving a problem. Why? It forces you to think differently and keeps things interesting. People should keep challenging themselves, rather than Google.

    How could they train themselves to stop?

    When they reach for their phone or laptop, they should stop, and think of at least one other way they could find the answer to the same question. Just one. Then give that a go. If that doesn’t work, then by all means use the net as a back-up.

  67. People should stop getting suckered in to sharing hoaxes and false information just because it comports with their own worldview.

    A huge red flag should go up when you are about to hit send. People should learn to question their assumptions and read more before they embarrass themselves and worse spread false information.

    Last week the owner of my company sent out that Johns Hopkins Cancer hoax. He should have questioned the claim that the letter was based on official research and done a little of his own. The world would be a better place if people were less gullible.

  68. My personal one would be saying “I can’t do that” before even attempting anything new or hard. Negative self talk is a big one for me.

  69. I think people should stop seeking outside validation. By people, I mean me. I have been finding myself depending on the validations I receive, particularly in the social media. I found a niche I’m comfortable in and am growing a following little by little, but its becoming an obsessive habit. The obsession is something I have heard others speak of, but had never experienced until I started receiving encouraging feedback that exceeded what I’ve seen in the past. I used to fancy myself independent and self-assured, but now I’m seeing that I have this need for others approval. I don’t like it.

    If you or anyone reading this has suggestions for how to be more egotistical, I’d love to hear them.

  70. I think people should stop postponing action on tasks that need handling in a chaotic way. Many tines it is OK to postpone a task but it should be decided when it will be dealt with and what is needed to deal with it.

    To balance postponing and not having my to do list collapse on me I developed the following system:

    I have a book stand on my desk with a list clamped to it with a binder clip. The paper is in an almost vertical position so I can see with a glance what is on it.

    On the top of the paper I write the date when the paper was changed.

    When something comes up that I want to postpone or deal with later I write it on the paper AND I also write the amount of time that would be needed to do the task. If the task is specially important I also add exclamation marks. Ex:

    Write e-mail to X about the measurements (45 min) !!!

    Change water filter (20 min)

    Create Excel document for yearly statistics (2 h)

    When I have some time I look over the list and scan by exclamation marks and needed time. I choose a task and not deviate from it until it is done.

    The finished task is crossed over on the paper.

    When one side of the paper is close to full I copy all the unfinished tasks on a new piece of paper and trow the old one away. The idea is to have a list shorter then one page.

    This is how you cane create a system to ease your memory and make you more effective.

  71. My most precious and rewarding book that I have ever read is ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’ by David Schwartz. Its so good- it puts a smile to my face and recommend it everyone. The bracelets are a brilliant idea- just like wedding rings are a symbolic gesture of commitment (one would hope) – the bands are that totem that helps you steer and maintain the course-

    =)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Magic_of_Thinking_Big

    P.S. Seriously Tim- why are you just so awesome?

  72. One important thing is – Stop being a victim! Take personal

    responsibility with the results you created.

  73. The use of the word “should” and problem. They are disempowering. Instead use will or won’t and challenge or test.

  74. People should stop watching porn. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Masturbating can be done as much as you want, but only with the force of your own imagination.

    It’s hard and annoying to do. Why do it?

    Porn (for me) has made it way harder to have orgasms in real life with real people.

    Also radical honesty is awesome and intense and crazy and scary, but you already mentioned that 😛

    It’s an uncomfortable project to do, because porn (like eating junk food or watching tv) is a habit that can easily become a reward, a routine, or a way to spend time in a pretty unconscious way. Giving it up puts pressure on you to be more conscious about using your time, and to get out an meet people and do things instead of sitting at home.

  75. Self Deprecation. As a student I am pushing myself constantly, and I realized that I am my own worst enemy. The world is hard enough without me adding to the negativity.

    You have make to make the commitment to stop. Choose to quit; you are the master of your mind.

    Train yourself in the mind. Meditate and focus on conscious decision making. Mindfulness decision making and focused living in “right now”, has made me happier and more effective in my resolve.

  76. One of my biggest problems, and I think it may be for others too, is justifying negative behaviors to themselves. For example, eating poorly, and then telling themselves it was okay because they were under a time crunch, or too tired to cook, etc. It’s simply not true. We lie to ourselves. If you make something a prority there will always be time. You MAKE time for prorities. How can I stop justifying poor behavior in myself?

  77. Every time we tell ourselves the story of something that happened way back in the day that now blocks us from progress! Something that back then was real, because it happened, but now is just an illusion played in our mind as reality to reaffirm something we have identified with. I believe this is one that is very important to consider and this idea with the bracelet or rubber band is great for this as well!

  78. 95% of French people don’t know how to say thank you.

    I can’t stand that.

    Especially when you offer someone a gift or when you offer to buy them something.

    1. Typical reaction : “You shouldn’t have !”

    Why ? Because you don’t like it ? Because you’re not worth it ? Well I think you are.

    Really, I should not have been nice to you? Well it seems like I did : I did buy this present, I did invest money and/or time in this gift and it makes me happy to please you. At least until now.

    2. “But I got nothing in return!”

    So you think I’m giving you a gift to get one in return? Didn’t know it was a gift battle.

    How about “Thank you” for a start ?

    3. “No, no, you’re not inviting me for dinner.”

    If at a restaurant, someone insists on paying the bill, ok you can resist a little but please let him or her do so. If you think he has financial difficulties, he’s big enough to take responsibility for his offer of paying. And you refusing will only make him look poor in your eyes.

    Don’t ruin someone’s pleasure to please you. These 3 reactions are extremely rude to me. Why would you want to be rude to someone who has just been nice to you?

    As I’m also adept of constructive criticism so here are a few tips :

    1. REALLY take the time to say “Thank you”.

    Slowly said with real eye-contact, those 2 words can be highly powerful.

    2. If you really want to offer something in return, then… do it.

    Except close relatives, no one minds a few days delay and everybody likes someone who does what he says.

    3. How about : “Thank you for dinner. Next time it’s on me.” or “May I invite you to theatre / offer you a drink next week?”

    Regarding nice gestures, keep it simple : your 1st reaction must be to be grateful.

    Starting this 21-day experiment tommorow !

    Thanks for the blog and for being awesome. And I mean it.

    Ciao !

  79. The ” I can’t ” conundrum.

    Just as complaining is a waste of time, all too often we reject ideas and use the self limiting phrase “I can’t.” Perhaps wearing a bracelet to stay aware, and replacing ” I can’t ” with ” I choose not to ” would help people start realizing just how much of their potential they are limiting with “I can’t.” After reading the chapter ” Fear Setting and escaping paralysis ” in The Four Hour Workweek, I decided to face my fears, stop the endless ” I can’t ” and quit a job I had loathed for a very long time. This self defeating thought process is just as damaging to self growth as complaining.

    Thank you for this Blog Post Mr. Ferriss.

  80. You had me at Cornholio! What a perfect way to describe a meltdown. Gave me a fantastic visual. 🙂 I will put the no complaint bracelet as a task for my coaching group. Thanks for the post!

  81. Words do indeed drive behavior, and I am a big fan of Tony Robbins and his books where he provides alternative words (saying you are a bit peeved instead of P—ssed OFF! makes a big difference in the intensity level you and others around you feel. A behavior change that would make a big difference in today’s corporate culture (and at home) would be to remove ANY naysaying of other peoples ideas for 21 days. If you say, “Yes but that will never work because…..”, you have to change the behavior. I have seen many people give up musical endeavors, great product ideas…..the list goes on, because of a single naysaying. I say down with naysaying!

  82. People should not be self deprecating in their thought processes. Thinking you’re not smart enough, not witty enough, fast enough, resourceful enough, etc becomes a crutch people lean on, which hobbles their progress and encourages stagnancy.

    I think that by adopting an empowering mantra–even if it’s silly, One can boost their self esteem or give themselves the motivation to start projects or push tasks to completion.

    Mine is royal jelly. I read that when it’s fed to a simple worker bee, it will transform her into a hive queen. I started taking it about a year ago with the mantra “imbibe the royal jelly, become the hegemon.” It works for me!

  83. hi Tim. Thank you so much for the inspiration. Your books are in good position in my favorite books’ list.

    You asked for suggestion: here is mine.

    What about stopping blaming others for my failure? ( it’s not my fault, the weather/the timing/my partner… was not good).

    This could have a great impact on mindset as well.

    Looking forward to your next book.

    Best regards. Stephanie

  84. I think “blaming” should be stopped. For instance, “If my boss wasn’t so cheap, I would be able to get a raise and buy a house”, or “My boyfriend treats me like crap and that’s why I don’t feel good about myself.” I sometimes find myself in reckless thought cycles that center around blame and as soon as I notice it, I shut it down and say to myself, “What can I do to change this?”. Often times, it is a matter of speaking my truth or changing my thought process to recognize I have the power to change. Blaming others is simply a scapegoat for taking responsibilities for ones’ feelings. A “blame bracelet” would be awesome! My only question about this: do you have to change wrists simply for thinking a criticism/blame? I don’t often say my judgments out loud, but just thinking them makes me feel crappy. How do you catch that so you can course correct? Thanks for another awesome post, Tim!