During a call with my favorite coachee, we were going over the changes he would like to make in his character. One of the goals he had written down for himself was “Become more grateful / appreciative of life”.
I found this interesting to read. Because it’s a goal I had never written down for myself before. But somehow, somewhere in the last 6-7 years, I’ve transformed from being the kind of person who had a cynical and negative opinion of nearly everything in life, to someone who wakes up every morning thinking “How awesome is it that I get be alive in this world for another day?”
Of course that change is not the result of one simple action that I took. It’s the combined result of many small changes and long-term habits working together. But looking back, I can definitely identify a major change in my external behavior that can be linked to it.
Years ago someone (I think it was Toomas. But if it wasn’t him, here’s some free promo, buddy 😉 ) suggested to me that I should try going 48 hours without complaining. The next 48 hours I did it, and it was extremely hard for me to do. To be honest, I even failed the experiment. I was so addicted to complaining that I couldn’t resist to let out one little complaintsie to my girlfriend somewhere the first evening. Probably about something unimportant. Other than that I managed to stay complaint-free.
The experience was eye-opening and confrontational for 2 reasons.
First of all: When you force yourself to closely monitor your own thoughts for such time period, your own negativity can come as somewhat of a shock to you. Before I did it, I had no idea I was so full of piss and vinegar.
Second: It makes you realize how much better you feel all day when you’re not allowed to complain. Everything is different. From riding your bike, to buying a watermelon to getting your dick sucked.
Since that experience, I don’t think I’ve paid any special attention to my complaining habits or anything. I guess merely becoming aware of it was enough to slowly start curing it.
But after that call I had to think back of that experiment and I started listening to the words I speak all day. Because I got curious what the difference is between then and now. And I noticed something interesting:
When I listen to my self speak, an extremely large percentage of the things I say start with “I like” or “I love”....
I constantly hear my self say things like “I like this view.”, “I’m really enjoying this song.”, “I love your face.”
I also noticed I randomly text people a lot to acknowledge it when I see they’re doing good it in their life. Or to praise their behavior.
I didn’t know this about myself. Since I often say these things without even realizing it. But apparently I am someone who praises everything around me on a constant basis. In fact, once I started noticing it, I was blown away by how much I do it. Sometimes it's so much that I would think it’s hard to take serious anymore. But I definitely mean all the things I say. I never caught myself giving fake compliments or anything.
Since my old habit of complaining about everything clearly served to reinforce a view of reality that made me unhappy and cynical, I think it’s safe to assume that my unconscious habit of praising everything I see does the opposite.
It probably creates a strong feedback loop in my mind where I’m continuously reminded of good it is to be here in this world, living this life, and that I should feel grateful for it.
If becoming more grateful and appreciative of things is something you’d like to learn as well, I invite you to do the following fun experiment:
STEP 1: Complain about EVERYTHING you see for 48 hours.
Have fun with this one:
• Complain that your train / bus is on time because you’re used to them being late and now you almost missed it.
• Go to the supermarket and start bitching to the customer next to you about how they don’t make tomatoes like they used to anymore and you think they’re way too mushy to your taste. Especially THIS one! What a sucky tomato! Then start ranting about how it’s all Trump’s fault because he denies climate change.
• Complain to everyone about how you have to complain for 48 hours and you don’t like it.
Whatever you do, make sure you complain about e-ve-ry-thing. And most of all: observe how it makes you feel.
STEP 2: Praise everything you see for 48 hours.
• Make a list of all the little things you love about your best friend or partner and tell them.
• Who cares if buses are a few minutes late sometimes? Traffic is unpredictable.Tell your bus driver how awesome you think it is that there even is a bus in your city thanks to them. Now you won’t have to walk, great! Even though walking would also be great, because it’s good for your body and mind. Doesn’t matter though. Everything’s great!
• Tell the person next to you in the grocery store how awesome it is that you’re both there. Living in one of the richest parts of the world. Where you can just drive to the store and buy a tomato if you desire to do so. No need to hunt. No need to work 100 hours a week in the dark while living in some slum. Nope. You were lucky to be born in a country that sells tomatoes. And they taste good too! Also, women exist. Praise the lord, hallelujah!
Once again, observe how you feel during these 2 days… And come to your own conclusions.
I know it sounds almost too simple to be true. But if you’ve never tried it before, my guess is the results will astonish you 🙂 Let me know how it went!
Receive Pepijn's new articles by email.
While there's enough articles here to fill a couple of books and sell them, keeping them on this site where you can read them all for free would be much more awesome! And it's amazing people like you who make that possible. If you feel like these posts have helped improve your life, please consider making a donation.