Q&A Blog

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Susan Asks...

What is this #31days31people thing all about?

Excellent question, and thank you for asking! First, if you've not checked out the articles you can find all so far, here: MEDIUM

The easiest way for me to answer this one is to kind of evaluate where I'm at, and how it's going. So let's go with this:

#31days31people - Three Things I’ve Learned From This Project (A mid-point update)

On Nov 30, 2014 I committed to writing every single day in December between the hours of 4-6:30am, a post about a person in my life for whom I am grateful. 31 people over 31 days. 

The only rule I gave myself was that I had to write something, no minimum or maximum word count. So far, each post has averaged around 375 words and has taken anywhere from 20-60 minutes to plot out, write and post. An easy 2-3 minute read per post, for folks interested.

The only thing pre-planned was a list of about 45 names that I’d put together on November 30. Each morning I look at the list and see what my heart feels compelled to write.

Some days I write with a huge grin, letting go of audible little giggles as I hash through snippets of my memories. Other days I find myself teary with emotion and a swollen heart recalling every feeling as if the moment were happening again.

The project is an exploration in gratitude. Tons of studies have been done on the health and psychological benefits of gratitude. I’ve been doing a lot of research and experimentation on the topic and how it can work to make us better human beings, personally and professionally. I’m 16 days in, half-way, and the #31days31people project is teaching me some really neat things, here are three that I’d like to share:

1. Gratitude is both Selfish and Selfless
It starts with the best intent. I simply wanted to express my gratitude for some folks who’ve made my life better in some way or other. But I noticed that starting my day with the expression of gratitude for someone not only felt really good, it seems to also surprise and brighten the day of the person I write about, in the instances those folks are still alive. Seeing and hearing that surprise and delight, in turn makes my day even better. So every single day I follow through on this commitment, my day is starting off on the best possible foot. I’ve felt better mentally, I’ve felt better physically. So much so that I also decided on Dec 1 to fold in one of those “30-day Squat Challenge” things. So I write first, do my little exercises then get on with my normal day. Good stuff! 

2. I Can Make Time to do Anything I Decide is Important Enough to Give My Time to
It’s true. I run into excuses and bumps in the road just like many people. During this project alone, I’ve been up through several nights with sick kids, been sick all night myself, couldn’t sleep because my mind wouldn’t rest, but the days must go on. There's work to do, a home to keep clean, lunches to pack, music lessons to get kids to and all the sorts of day-to-day things life presents. But I’ve found this really neat rhythm, not just in this project, but for the last almost 2 years, a rhythm in owning my time. No excuses. If I really WANT to do something, I figure out how to do it. I’m dedicated to maintaining this rhythm. It’s really important to me.

When life or weird stuff knocks me off my game, it can take a minute to figure out a workaround or to figure out if the path I was on is in need of a shift. When life pushes, it’s not always pleasant but I’ve found that if I will move through it with focus on what I know is important, like gratitude for the people in my life, everything continues to fall into place. Life seems to get more spacious and clear, and my opportunities to design it my way become more abundant.

3. I Don’t Want to Stop
Feeling good is addictive. Making others feel good is even more addictive. So here’s what I’m thinking: I’m going to keep something going. I’ll change the content a bit but, to kick off the 31 days of January, 2015 I’m going to start another #31days project. I’ll announce what it is on January 1.

It’d be awesome if folks wanted to try their own #31days project. I’d love to see what people come up with!

My #31days31people project: MEDIUM