Book Review: A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted

Author: Will Bowen
Softback: 304 pages

Favorite Quotes:
“The squeaky wheel may get the grease. But if it squeaks too much, it ends up getting replaced.”
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” – Aristotle
“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us” – Helen Keller

A Complaint Free World Book Summary

A Complaint Free World is a fairly engaging and fun read. I didn’t want to put this book down, as I wanted to flip the page and find the secret to living a complaint free life. Spoiler, there is no secret, but I think this book provides the tools to help. A complaint free life is a long process that takes time and patience. The author, Will Bowen, recommends a concept of the 21-day challenge of being complaint free. The 21-day challenge of being complaint free is…well…a challenge. I have not been able to successfully complete even four days without complaining and I think of myself as a generally happy/positive person.

The goal of this book isn’t to necessarily stop you from complaining but to realize and understand that you ARE complaining. The 21-day challenge is where one simply wears a bracelet and each time they complain, the bracelet is moved from one wrist to the other. This tactic will assist in becoming conscious of your actions and thoughts. The author does mention that it takes typically four to eight months to reach 21 consecutive days without complaining. You can get these bracelets at, but realistically, a rubber band will do.

Complaint Free World - Bill Bowen - Back

Bowen goes in to great detail describing the different phases of understanding why and how we complain.

Unconscious Incompetence

This is the stage when people complain without even knowing that they’re complaining. It is just a natural part of their being or how they speak. Think, “ignorance is bliss,” during this phase. If someone asked people in this group how much they complain, most would say “very little,” or “not at all”. They are completely unaware (unconscious) of their complaining (incompetence).

Conscious Incompetence

The second stage, conscious incompetence, is where one begins to realize how often they complain. It frequently times becomes uncomfortable, as one may feel slightly embarrassed at the amount of complaining they are actually doing. The author mentions that this is the stage where most people get discouraged after discovering their level of complaining and actually quit their 21-day challenge.

Conscious Competence

In the conscious competence stage, the individual starts to become aware of everything they say. Thoughts and conversation become increasingly positive as they stop and think before speaking. The adage, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” becomes important to those in this stage.

Unconscious Competence

After one has mastered the concept of changing your thoughts and words, they have moved to the unconscious competence. At this point you no longer need to think (unconscious) about each phrase that you speak positively (competence). During this stage you simply speak. Individuals also start to become happier at this point but they also begin to notice those around them seem happier as well. Like attracts like. This means that a positive, complaint free attitude, will begin rubbing off on others.

Below is a table of words to consider changing from a negative connotation to a more positive one.

Instead ofConsider
I have toI get to
I demandI would appreciate

This book is a great resource for learning tips and tricks to start on a complaint free, or nearly complaint free, path. I think if you complain 10%-20% less in your life, the book has done its job.

Please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book.

About the Author:  Will Bowen is the founder of the nonprofit organization A Complaint Free World and works with individuals and groups around the world to create Complaint Free environments that are calmer, happier, and more productive.