Gratitude

Updates

If Everyone Made these 12 New Year’s Resolutions, the World Would Be Happier

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." - Mark Twain

If Everyone Made these 12 New Year’s Resolutions, the World Would Be Happier

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve generally had the perspective of Mr. Twain. But that’s because resolutions are so commonly things that won’t actually improve someone’s life, or (and especially) the lives of others in their life. But what if we all had the same New Year’s resolutions, and were able to hold one another mutually accountable, and they improved our lives and the lives of those in our lives?

If a genie gave me just one wish… I would wish for infinite hummus. Sorry. But if I was lucky enough to stumble upon another genie, my wish would be for everyone to make these New Year’s Resolutions (ya know, in case treating every day like Christmas isn’t your style). I believe in the power of individuals, and we can change the world one person at a time for the better. But it starts with changing our individual worlds. So, Mark Twain be damned, this year I resolve to:

  1. Realize that I’m incredibly fortunate. Even when things seem like they can’t get worse, and I think the whole world is against me, the simple fact that I’m able to be unhappy is a byproduct of the fortune of being given that opportunity to be unhappy.
  2. Be grateful for what I have. I don’t have much, but I have plenty. Flipping a switch and having lights come on, for example, is pretty freaking awesome. I want to remind myself to be more thankful for those things, every day.
  3. Want less, and learn to want to give more. Giving is happiness.
  4. Understand that it’s okay not to be happy all the time. And to affirm others in understanding this. Life has ups and downs and lefts and wrongs. It’s okay to not be happy — it just makes happy even better when I get it.
  5. Appreciate aloneness. To not freak out, to make the most of the peace, and to remember that being alone isn’t the same as being lonely.
  6. Love more and judge less. “This goes for loving yourself, too, Mister!” I yell at myself, judgmentally, because I know that I’m far more likely to love and avoid judging another person. I can definitely do more loving of myself and others, and less judging of myself and others.
  7. Eat less food that makes me feel like garbage. Yeah, it tastes good in the moment, but I’d bet heroin feels pretty good, and you don’t see me eating that every weekend.
  8. Move my body more. Sitting is bad, and I do it too much. I don’t enjoy exercising, but I want to learn to enjoy it. When I nudge myself to do it, I almost always enjoy it. I’m going to do that more.
  9. Put myself in unknown situations. Comfort is good, but growth comes from challenge. I’m going to seek out unknown situations, read things I may not have otherwise read, talk to people I may have otherwise ignored.
  10. Treat individual human beings as individual human beings. Don’t allow myself to track my mud into their houses, or the mud that someone else who may have looked like/sounded like/smelled like them do the same.
  11. Not let my pride stand between me and something or someone. It doesn’t matter what the “principle” of the matter was, or all the other bullshit excuses I use. What matters is what I want to happen in the future, and whether I’m willing to circumvent pride to make it happen.
  12. Sweep before my own door first. To remember that I’m not helping any one — as a hard worker, friend, partner, etc. — if I’m not taking care of myself. I need to be my own friend first.

If you’re up for this challenge, let me know. Or share the list with a friend as a friendly challenge. We can be one another’s accountabilibuddies. Gosh, I love spelling that word.

Updates

The Most Wild Year of My Life Ended in One Moment

“For last year's words belong to last year's language. And next year's words await another voice.” - T.S. Eliot

The Most Wild Year of My Life Ended in One Moment

Earlier tonight I gave the opening keynote for the Nat’l Sex Ed Conference. It was an hour that I’ve spent the last 6 months mulling, refining, trashing, rebuilding, trashing, reconceiving, and then, tonight, finally talking. I’ve never given a talk like that — not even close. And I mean that for more reasons than I can likely make sense here.

This year was wild.

I spent more time on the road this year than ever. I’ve been everywhere. I’m not sure if this is true (because I have a lot of accounting to d0), but I’m pretty sure I spent more money on travel (to do free talks, rep GAB, perform my show, etc.) this year than I made in income last year. But my income was almost exactly the same. So I’ve finally lived some version of this phrase that’s been on IPM since I launched the site and my career: “Sam is committed to sharing this message as much as possible, and would much prefer performing the show at 50 schools a year instead of 15, even at the same wage.” I’ve given away thousands of copies of a freaking book I wrote. I wrote a book. I published a book. And tonight the CFLE sold a bunch at a table to raise funds, then folks wanted me to sign them. Real life. Not a single one would believe me when I said it was my privilege to have the opportunity to meet them. And the TED talk. I can’t believe that was this year.

I haven’t slept in 3 days. I haven’t rested in 12 months. I know it’s only December 11, but I spoke into a microphone for the last time of the year tonight, which is why I’m calling it over. That part of my life is over for 2013.

And it all ended with words I’d never said out loud before, at the end of a talk that was almost entirely things I’d never said on stage, with a crowd standing and applauding. I didn’t even realize it was happening at first. I have a hard time acknowledging applause, so I was staring at the stage. When I looked up, everything came down. I felt 2013, all at once, the entire year, pass through me — or maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation.

I’m not sure I’m ready for 2014. But the good news is I have a couple weeks to prepare myself.

Better Humaning

My Gratitude Challenge

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” - Marcel Proust

My Gratitude Challenge

My momma taught me to say please and thank you, to keep my elbows off the table, and to never chew with my mouth full. As a near grown-up Sam, these all feel as natural as breathing, blinking, or eating peanut butter directly from the jar with a spoon (sorry, Momma).

I thank the bus driver whenever I get off the bus, the coffee shop person several times throughout the “put caffeine inside of me process” (“What would you like?” Caffeine, thanks!), and I even thanked the Capital One rep when she told me that my identity was stolen (again) and some yahoo in New York is spending all the money I don’t have. I say a lot of thank yous in any given day. But there are a lot of people I never thank.

I don’t thank the people who write essays (like this one) or give talks (like this one) that tickle my brain and leave my mind spinning for days, weeks, or, sometimes, years. I don’t thank the people who write books I read that shape my perspective, changing the way I think about writing, the world, and myself. I don’t thank people who taught me things, or provided the support I needed, that led me to where I am today.

I got an email today from someone thanking me for the things I do online and it included the sentiment “I bet you get this a lot, but…” The truth is, I don’t get a lot of encouraging emails. In fact, I get very few. But the few I do get I stick in a Gmail folder called “encouragement” in case I’m having a rough week and need to tap into my reserves. Almost every encouraging email I do get includes that “I’m sure you get this a a lot” sentiment. And I realized today that I often think the same thing, and that keeps me from saying thank you to the people whose work I appreciate. I don’t want to be a nuisance. They won’t care about hearing from lil ol’ me. I’m gonna eat some more peanut butter from the jar.

If I can muster up the gratitude to say thanks to the bus driver, I can muster up a bit more to thank all those other people. I don’t mean to say bus drivers aren’t as worthy of my gratitude (they are!), but I don’t think I’m living up to the gratitude I was taught if I only say thanks to the people in my immediate presence. And I’m going to stop allowing myself to assume the other people, the writers and talkers and designers and creators, who influence me wouldn’t want to hear my thanks.

For the next week, whenever I read or watch something that really hits me deep, I’m going to write the person who made it a thank you. I will write at least one thank you per day for the next seven. Let me know if you’ll take the same challenge in the comments below, and we can share stories.

Thank you for being you,

sK

***

Oh, but if you do, please don’t send me a thank you, or it won’t count as one of your seven (sorry, I don’t make the rules — blame the folks at corporate). This challenge is not me fishing for more thanks.