I shocked myself the other day.
I was driving down Rte 24 from Brockton to Fall River (aka the Emerald Isle of Massachusetts…majestic), and almost got taken out by a semi that was driving carelessly and switching lanes in the snow. This used to be a 100% lock of a situation where a Joe-Pesci-in-Goodfellas-esque profanity-laced tirade was about to spew from my jugular-engorged neck.
Ok not complete silence…a “WHAT Th…” snuck out. And whimpered off…
It happened. In THE perfect scenario to drop bombs of the F, D, S, C and A varieties…I just took a breath.
This No Complaint Challenge of ours has impacted me. As we have said all along…it’s not perfect, and it’s not a cure-all. Not even close. But it has been eye-opening for me on a number of levels.
1) Themes have emerged – I am identifying people and things that are the primary sources of my complaining and swearing (Hello day job! Hello angry colleagues!!). And while I knew these themes, I did not give much thought to the EXTENT of which they were present or how much they impacted me. Why was I letting these external factors occupy so much angry space in my head? No more.
2) I swear a lot – I like swearing…do it throughout the day, and quite possibly will continue to do so when this is over. But I have found that by paying attention to it repeatedly, I am getting much more adept at filtering it. At pausing between that stimulus and response, and reacting less. Which in turn has given me more peace. What’s more, when I hear others swear (say, on a podcast or just unnecessarily in casual conversation), there’s a Pavlovian-like response for me to abstain for also doing so. And to be clear…it’s not the language itself, but the sentiment that it implies that I’ve been looking to address.
Bottom line is that this has been what I had hoped it would be…an eye opener into how my brain works, and to the amount of gratitude I’m practicing in my life. I’m 17 days-in after many stumbles out of the gate. I’m hoping to hit the 21 on this round…and if not, will get it on the next time around.
Hopefully, each of you have gotten something out of this as well. As we said from the start, this is an extremely personal challenge. It will mean something different for each of you. It doesn’t matter if you finished fast (props to Kristen Hoban!), are still going (and will continue to do so for the coming months), or if you tried it and had enough of it. Many of you are done with it after a few attempts, and that’s fine.
The only goal here was to pull something new and unique out of the exercise that you can use. If that happened…perfect. You’ve won.
Next week, we will be implementing a quick 5 day challenge that dovetails nicely with the No Complaint Challenge. What will it involve?
Why journaling? We will again paraphrase Tim Ferriss here (check out the journaling chapter in his book, “Tools of Titans”)
History is littered with successful people who kept their thoughts in a journal. It is a phenomenal way to materialize your thoughts…to begin the process of “speaking” your thoughts into existence.
KNOW THIS, however. It does not have to be perfect. This isn’t Abe Lincoln penning the Gettysburg Address every morning…and it doesn’t have to be. It can be simple, messy, raw and random.
As author Julia Cameron puts it, journaling serves as “our spiritual windshield wipers. Once we get those muddy, maddening, confusing thoughts on the page, we face our day with clearer eyes”.
What does this mean? You don’t have to be a WRITER. That’s not what this is about….these pages are meant for nobody but you. They are a tool to clear you mind, optimize your thinking and winning your day.
If all that you write down is incoherent stream of consciousness? Perfect! As Ferriss says, this is “about the process, NOT the product”.
“Morning pages don’t need to solve your problems. They simply need to get them out of your head, where they’ll otherwise bounce around all day like a bullet ricocheting inside your skull. Could bitching and moaning on paper for 5 minutes each morning change your life? As crazy as it seems, I believe the answer is yes.”
So…what to write? Honestly it can be anything. But I have found that a little structure can be helpful. Try the approach that The Five Minute Journal takes
1) 3 things you are grateful for. This could be the big stuff (kids, being able to walk, Chipotle), or the small details that make life phenomenal (a good cup of coffee, the view out of your window, etc)
2) 3 things that will make today great. Anticipating the day ahead, what will make it a good one?
3) Daily affirmation: I am (fill in the _______ with as much as you want). A little Stuart Smalley? Yep. But incredibly impactful nonetheless
1) 3 amazing things that happened today
2) How could today have been better
That’s it. It doesn’t have to be Hemingway, and it can be that simple. The goal is gratitude, and the mere act of getting your thoughts on paper.
We will start Monday, February 20th. See if you can make it five days in a row…
And if you do, and you find benefit in the practice…see if you can then make it a habit.