Many years ago, I was at some est (the personal-transformation program developed by Werner Erhard) event or other, or listened to a tape of Erhard, in which he pointed out that many relationships are based on an area of common complaint. He had a real point; many friendships have complaint and gossip about bosses, coworkers, rivals, spouses, lovers, children, parents, etc. at their core.
Sometimes we need to vent, it’s true. But I think if most of us could keep track of how much of our time we spend complaining and gossiping, we’d be shocked.
The members of Christ Church Unity in Kansas City have a started a program to enable themselves to do just that, and it’s catching on fast around the country. It’s a kind of group game, in which the goal is to go 21 days without complaining or gossiping. Put on a purple wristband, and when you catch yourself uttering a complaint or sharing gossip, snap the band, move it to the other wrist, and you’re back to day one. 16 folks at the church have made it the full 21 days so far, and evidently its had a big impact on their church culture.
Whether you try this yourself or not, it’s useful to look at our relationships and see if they are based on a common complaint or a common interest. As Erhard pointed out to me 25 years ago, life’s more fun when hanging out with people working together on something positive. The Unity folks in Kansas City have discovered that simple truth themselves, and are doing a fantastic job of transforming their church’s culture.
(I heard about this from the “Daily Gratitude” email newsletter.)