I promised to experiment and share those experiments here. I thought this past week would be easy: I had a nice experiment planned. Linda van Sinten and I would run a Silence workshop at Agile Open Holland. The workshop would be a try out of some exercises in silence.
It didn’t work out that way.
Our Silence Workshop didn’t attract enough participants, so we decided to cancel it. That meant I had to rethink which experiment to write about. So this time I’d like to share you an experiment that I’ve been doing on and off for 6 years: daily gratitude.
My wife Els introduced me to daily gratitude some 6 years ago. In the evening she would ask me to name 3 things that happened during the day that I was grateful for. It was a good conversation starter, as well as a good way to end the day on a positive note. Often we would be grateful for each other, and it felt wonderful to hear that.
We did this for a while, then we stopped. I don’t remember why we stopped. From time to time, Els or I would start it again. Doing it always made me feel more positive, but somehow I couldn’t keep it going.
When I started out, I struggled to find things to be grateful for. I was looking for “big things”: successes, amazing good luck. The things that came to mind didn’t seem worthy. For example, I can be grateful for an unexpected compliment, but initially that didn’t seem worth mentioning. It took some time to realize there are lots of “small things” that happen each day that make me happy. I am grateful for them. I just need to stop taking them for granted.
A few weeks ago I wanted to inspire somebody else. I introduced daily gratitude, but with a difference. Rather than saying it out loud, we wrote it down. That was mostly for practical reasons: we don’t see each other each day.
At first my buddy struggled like I had: not considering small things. We persevered, and soon it became easier. Even though it was written, it still triggered good conversations. Also, we could look back at previous days. When I’m feeling down, it helps to go back to previous days’ gratitude.
We can now easily each come up with 5 things we’re grateful for. We’ve managed more than 25 between us on 1 day. When my buddy’s list appears, it feels like a present. Just to see what somebody else is grateful for helps me to see new things that I can be grateful for. I probably had the same when I did daily gratitude in the past, but can’t remember it. Maybe I’ve changed and can now appreciate it more?
Grateful for a cancelled experiment
So Friday evening after Agile Open Holland, my Daily Gratitude looked something like this:
- I’m grateful for the pleasant atmosphere at Agile Open Holland.
- I’m grateful for the new insights and games, and for the refresher on Clean Setup.
- I’m grateful that there were still some Russian cards left over for me to buy.
- I’m grateful for the people that let me practice Clean Setup on them during the day.
- I’m grateful for the nice conversation we had on the way home, with an extra passenger that I gave a ride home.
In hindsight, I’m grateful that our Silence Workshop didn’t attract enough participants. It allowed me to join the Xtrem Reading session. And I still have the option of doing the Silence Workshop some other time.
And I’m grateful that I have enough experiments going that I could still fulfill my challenge.