The March Kindness Challenge

I know there’s normally an Other Perspectives on Monday but it’s the start of a month and while I kicked this off on the weekend, I wanted to give it an official start on the 631 Relax and Succeed - Yesterday I was cleverfirst workday of the month. Welcome to Relax and Succeed‘s March Kindness Challenge.

The readers that turn my work into verbs always do best. They’re not philosophically bantering ideas around, they’re looking for routes through the confusion. And so they very practically do what I suggest and then they write to me about the wonderful benefits that accrue when we make happiness a priority, and when we really do try to see that life is lived inside out, not outside in.

So what’s our verb for March? We have to stop trying to Succeed and we have to start Relaxing. We have to see the victory not as winning the game, but playing it at all. We must learn that our internal experience is the only life we’ll ever know, and so we’re far better off to be tuning that. And by tuning into kindness we guarantee ourselves a day filled with joy.

So: I know it’s a habit that will be hard to break at first. But that’s why we’re doing it. To make that barrier lower and lower until it’s not there at all. So 31 days (and if you start today, only 29!). 31 measly days. No negative comments about your appearance, your schedule, your children or parents, your spouse or lack of one, your job, boss or co-workers, your social life, your friends, other drivers, the weather, your health, your 631 Relax and Succeed - Sorry for the inconveniencehabits, your past…. none of it. No using words in your imagination to tell yourself a story about how disappointing any of those things are.

Yes, you’ll screw up. Yes your habits will—especially at the start—wreak havoc on your plans for positivism. You’ll catch yourself half an hour into a rant. But that does not mean you have failed that means you have succeeded. Because you noticed. This is not something you’ve historically paid attention to—and that’s entirely my point. Because if you did pay attention to it your life would instantly and easily be much better. Because what a surprise—when you actually prioritize happiness it turns out it’s not that hard to get.

So to make it easier to not slip back into bad habits,  instead you should be invested in paying more attention than ever to the good things in life. Focus on what’s in your consciousness. You want fewer criticisms, judgments, or complaints. Those are just crappy ways of asking for something when it would be better to just ask. Criticisms, judgments and complaints suck for you to think. They’re not nice-feeling thoughts for the thinker. But being openly aware feels good right away. And if you direct it with the 631 Relax and Succeed - People from a planet without flowersintention of noticing all that is beautiful about the world you will quickly come to see that a lot of this great big world is absolutely awesome and if you don’t believe me then you haven’t been paying enough attention.

Start noticing the daily kindnesses in this world. Start paying a lot of attention to how good people are to each other. Why would we have built a world where there’s a saying to good to be true but not one that’s too bad to be true? I’m happier than all of you and I’m likely dumber and poorer and more isolated, and for the last several weeks I’ve been in intense pain, but still I’m happier than virtually all of you. Why? Because I love being in pain and I love being over-booked because my friends need me? No, because that reminds me that I’m hardly ever in pain and that I have a lot of great friends that inspire me to help them with their goodness. The choice is mine how I see that. But I have to get serious about changing the way that I make that choice. It has to become conscious if I want it to work. I can’t go into a restaurant and blindly pick any meal/experience off the menu and expect to like it. I at least have to advocate enough for my own life that I’ll show enough involvement to actually look at the menu of thought choices and choose something that I think I at least have a hope of enjoying.

631 Relax and Succeed - The March Kindness ChallengeOkay, send this to your friends and get them on board too. Print off the March Kindness Challenge photo and put it up at work, or on your fridge or at your school. And do this seriously. Make your happiness something you actually prioritize. So if you hear a friend running someone else or their life or themselves down—stop them. Remind them that you think they’re amazing and that’s why you’re their friend, and that when they insult themselves they’re also insulting your good taste. Stop gossiping and start talking about how great everyone is. Start talking about the best thing you’ve seen someone do instead of the dumbest thing.

This isn’t rocket science. Think a nice thought, get a nice feeling. But that doesn’t happen by accident. And it doesn’t happen by coming here and reading this blog or taking my classes or meeting with me. I don’t change people they change themselves. Can I guide them? Yes I can and have and it works. But so will the March Kindness Challenge. Just do it.

No more critical, angry, sad, worried or judgmental thoughts about your life or the people and things in it. Instead, for March you’re going to sincerely dedicate yourself to being even kinder, more generous, and more patient and compassionate than you have been. Less time judging what you don’t like and more time noticing what you do like. Share your appreciations. Tell people you think they handled a situation well. Tell them you think they look great or that you’ve always liked their voice. Tell them. You love when you hear it so say it too. Say nice things to everyone.

631 Relax and Succeed - People tend to think thatThis really can make a huge difference. In a blog called Mission: Better World #1 I figured out that if just North Americans alone gave one more compliment per day than they do, that we would increase the total number of world compliments by 131 billion every year. And that’s just one small place. Imagine if the whole world was kind most of the day!?

Make a difference first to yourself and then to those around you. But get on board. Put up Post-It notes to remind you. Get your friends on board. Copy the March Kindness Challenge photo or go to the Relax and Succeed facebook page and share the challenge out of the Social Change photo album. Get as many people on board as you can. But stay on it yourself and you will change yourself. And, as Gandhi said, by changing yourself you will have changed the world as well.

I look forward to seeing your smile out there in the great big beautiful world. Until then, you have yourself the very best March ever. I love you.

peace. s

PS Don’t forget to share this!

Mission: Better World #1

Some people will hardly ever be cruel in their entire lifetime. A few will use cruelty a lot, as a tool. But I think we can all agree that only a sliver of any society would ever go so far as to say they’re actually in favour of cruelty–and most of those are politicians, not warriors. Likewise we all love the feeling of a genuine compliment—especially regarding something we feel particular proud of being good at. Usually things we worked really hard to master. So we can agree that no one wants to promote cruelty, but we can all agree that we would like to promote compliments. That sounds like an excellent place to start.

624 Relax and Succeed - Start where you areOkay are you ready? Here’s how this goes: when someone makes you really angry. Even really really angry—still, your limit is to be really mad, but you won’t dip down into cruelty. You’ll be mad at what they did, you will not exhibit cruelty toward that person. Actions are actions, people are people. No one wants more cruelty in the world so we each as individuals have to avoid encouraging or participating in it. Day by day, experience by experience, we develop a new habit.

What will make all of this easier is that we won’t just drop the cruelty and leave a gap that you can feel like some phantom limb. No, we fill your life with added awareness so you can watch people and situations to look for good reasons to give sincere compliments. Some people give lots of compliments every day and some never give any. But just think about this: let’s say each person in the US and Canada committed to giving just one sincere compliment a day. That’s it. Just one. In just those two places (but do it everywhere). One—I like your hat, or wow that is some nice guitar playing, or do you ever have a beautiful smile, or I want to thank you for your excellent work this month, or that’s the best service I’ve had in years! Just one. Just the US and Canada. That’s 350 million compliments a day or, put another way, that’s 131 billion compliments a year from two relatively small populations. That would absolutely make the world better. Can you imagine just listening to that? You would be hearing them all day!

Who’s in? It’s super simple. No cruelty—and if you read this blog you probably weren’t the cruel type anyway, so that might be surrendering one or a few chances every few years. And in return, if there’s 131 billion compliments being given out, in one year you’ll give out 365 compliments, but who knows how many 624 Relax and Succeed - The words of the tongue should haveyou might receive? You might surprise yourself. But what I love about this is that compliments not only feel great to get, they also feel awesome to give. So no matter what happens, we’re all guaranteed one more happy moment per day—365 per year—than we had before.

Now remember, these duties include intervening in whatever practical—but not cowardly—way with any cruelty you witness as well. And also if someone is having a day so bad that they can’t give out their compliment, you give it out for them. Or maybe think about taking up a collection and get the sad person a dozen compliments. As long as they’re sincere they will be healing.

This is written with my tongue half way in my cheek, but seriously. Why would any of us invest our short lifetimes in bitching about how crappy the world is and then go from that conversation to the bank where we then ream out the teller-in-training for wasting our day, like we spend it curing diseases anyway? Everybody’s got to learn. Compassion. The same thing we would want. Today at the bank the poor kid—who’s served me twice and done a great job—was literally shaking by the time I got to him. When I was done I just said, “Hey Carter, I know you’re new here and so I see you’re double checking all your work. I appreciate you doing that while you get your legs under you. It’s very responsible. Just what I like in my bankers.”

Don’t be careless with your compliments. Place them carefully and strategically. Get used to watching people less for how they affect you and more for just how they are. And if someone’s down, then maybe the compliment would get twice as much mileage for them. Win-win. Don’t forget small children and oddly enough, those closest to us. Even save a few for yourself.

624 Relax and Succeed- If you change yourselfBut seriously do this. Put up a post it note on your bathroom mirror with 31 numbers on it and give a compliment a day and cross one off for every day of the month. If you like it and want to give more compliments that’s awesome, but those are amatuer compliments. Only this one per day will count against your professional total. Don’t skip a day two years in a row and you are a Master Complimenter and you’re prepared to take on even the most promising apprentices.

All kidding aside, I’m seriously going to do this. And I seriously hope you not only join me, but I hope you all convince at least one other person to join you in this very rewarding endeavour. (If anyone sends in a list of their compliments I’ll post them in the comment section.) Maybe you’re at a university and you can get it going throughout your campus, or if you’re at a large company see if you can get it spread there. Or maybe your child can spearhead a plan to do this at their school. Just the few of us—and some of you are parents and you will be influencing your children—you will have an impact.

Today seems as good a day as any to start, so I will find a more personal one to give in a moment, but for now I will say that I think you’re an awesome person to want to participate in something that it would be so easy to dismiss and ridicule. It’s very much appreciated. Now let’s go change the world.

peace. s