Campus News

Prof. Barbara Held Appears on ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson

Story posted April 18, 2008

Barbara Held, Barry N. Wish Professor of Psychology and Social Studies, appeared in a segment that aired Thursday, April 17, 2008, on ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson. Read the ABC News story.

Barbara Held150.jpg
Barbara Held

The news story focused on what has been called the "Complaint-Free Church" in Kansas City, Mo. The church's leader, the Reverend Will Bowen, has challenged his congregation to refrain from complaining, criticizing and gossiping for three weeks. The idea has spread far beyond middle America, as have Bowen's purple bracelets, which are intended to serve as reminders of the complaint-free pledge.

Held has been widely quoted on what she calls "the tyranny of the positive attitude" and says she was approached by ABC News producers looking to balance the Bowen report.

"We have different temperaments and personalities," says Held. "Consequently, we cope in different ways. Anything that adds to the pressure to cope in one supposedly 'correct' way may help some people, but will hurt others. One size does not fit all — not in clothing and not in coping."

This is not the first time a major network news outlet has approached Held for comment on Rev. Bowen's Complaint-Free World movement. In March 2007, she appeared on NBC's Today show. Click here for a link to the story and to view portions of the interview.

Finding a Happy Media

Held has been quoted in newspapers and magazines across the country, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and Smithsonian magazine.

Held's comments were also included in the article, "The Way to Happiness," that appeared in the February 2008 issue of Reader's Digest. Read the article.


In October 2007, Held was invited to compose and deliver an essay for the "This I Believe" segment on National Public Radio's program All Things Considered. Listen to the essay and view the text.

Held's book, Stop Smiling, Start Kvetching: A 5-Step Guide to Creative Complaining (St. Martin's Griffin, 2001), in which she urges people to stop pretending that everything is fine, has been referenced widely in conjunction with Held's viewpoints.

The book was the subject of another appearance on Today, in 2001.

« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email