Here Are the Results From My 21-day Negativity Detox
Late last year, my wife, Jill, and I challenged ourselves to a 21-day negativity detox. With so much gloom and cynicism in the world, we decided to work on being positive. Jill has Huntington’s disease, and stress makes her symptoms worse.
We kept track by placing a dollar bill into a jar every time we caught ourselves being negative.
I have no doubt many of you have lost sleep wondering how the challenge turned out. I am here to share a report.
The jar — which was not a jar but a large container, because have you ever noticed how small a jar is? — was half full by the end of the challenge.
An optimistic man by nature, I believe in cups (or containers) that are half full. So, it is appropriate that we complained just enough to fill it halfway.
Knowing how curious humans are, I have no doubt you want to know the exact amount of money we placed in the container. Jill and I agreed that a bit of mystery never hurt anyone. Who knows? Maybe I will do a big reveal at the end of this column and share the amount, which means you have to keep reading. That’s every writer’s dream: doing just enough tricks of the trade to compel someone to read every word you’ve written.
But I digress.
One of Jill’s memorable complaints was from a fast-food drive-thru. Waiting behind a long line of cars didn’t bother her. What triggered her was that her order was taken not by an employee listening through a speaker box inside the restaurant, but by someone hovering near the cars outside.
“The whole point of going through the drive-thru is not to have human interaction — to be in your pajamas and still feel comfortable getting food,” she said.
One of my major complaints was that I couldn’t find anything to complain about. (Jill just complained that I joke too much; if we were still doing the challenge, you would have just heard the sound of a dollar bill floating downward.)
In all seriousness, following were some of my complaints:
- The weather was too cold.
- I couldn’t play indoor soccer because the building was shut down due to COVID-19.
- My favorite soccer team, FC Barcelona, is not playing at the level I want them to be playing at.
One of the lessons we learned from this challenge was that most of our complaints were not worth complaining about. We discovered that we didn’t complain about the big things in life, such as Jill’s Huntington’s disease or my inability to remember things like I used to.
Our challenge revealed that we are blessed. It also revealed one way Jill copes in life. “Most of my complaints are jokes,” she said. “So if I stopped complaining, life would be less funny.”
In case you haven’t noticed, I tend to be the same way. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
It was also revealing to be conscious of what exactly we complained about. But overall, we really are trying to be positive and lower the stress levels in Jill’s life. St. Macarius of Optina put it best: “Watch out for complaining. It only makes situations worse and increases sorrow.”
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