Spirit has brought to my attention that, even with an experiment that’s been designed around love and positivity, there are some potentially toxic downsides to it that I hadn’t originally thought of.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Experiments are like that. You try, you learn. You fail, you learn. You succeed, you learn. It’s part and parcel of the process.
I cannot and will not diminish all the amazing things that have already happened on this journey so far, much of which I attribute to a) surrendering, and b) being rather than merely doing. Getting to be, especially in the last month or so, has been one of the greatest gifts in my life.
But reflecting on the possible downsides of the experiment has been giving me some pause.
The Invisible Stress of Failing Publicly
Stress is invisible, I know, so maybe the expression is a little redundant.
But as I’ve already shared, I have not been doing this experiment perfectly. I kicked it off at a time when I was just beginning to recover from burnout, and I’m not completely over it yet. I don’t think I have had any all-out dicey days, but I have had some dicey moments.
If I had started this experiment at my physical and mental best, failing may have held considerably less significance for me.
But right now, I don’t need more stress in my life, and I didn’t know that failing you was something that could weigh on me.
To be fair, failure was not something that was explicitly defined in the beginning. It would be more accurate to say that I haven’t been following all the rules I laid out for myself all the time.
But it is a potential downside to an experiment that was supposed to be healing and joyful. Feeling guilty for my stumbles isn’t going to produce healing or joy.
“Positive” to the Exclusion of “Negative”
This was never supposed to be a “positive thinking” experiment contrary to what the title might lead you to believe.
It was more based on the idea that the Universe responds to everything we think and feel, so all things being equal, better to dwell on the “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” versus the fluffy or negative.
Of course, life presents us with people, circumstances, and events that occur to us as positive, negative, or shades of grey in between all the time. How we define good or bad is up to us, but one inescapable truth of life is things happen. They just do.
Life tends to be more enjoyable when we feel good. And it is even possible to train ourselves to view potentially negative events as positive. But thoughts do not negate circumstances.
When I stop to think about it, the most inspirational moments in life are the ones where someone had to rise out of hardship, challenge, or adversity. In that sense, such events aren’t necessarily “bad,” but they can appear that way initially.
I don’t necessarily have the answer. It would be a cop-out to say, “Life is always in balance” or “Life is always in harmony,” but that is the closest thing to truth I can muster as I contemplate what “uplifting, inspirational, and informative” really means.
Ultimately, you never know what people, events, and circumstances might turn out to be “uplifting, inspiring, and informative” when they didn’t appear that way at the outset.
The above realizations don’t discourage me. Rather, I feel like I’ve discovered something about myself I’ve been unaware or unconscious of. I even feel like I may have understood a deeper spiritual truth.
I need to give myself some grace for being imperfect, and for doing this experiment imperfectly. It would be amazing if I managed to pull it off without effort, but then would it even be worth doing?
It has also occurred to me that these missteps are part of the journey – they are supposed to happen, so my life is reflected back at me like a mirror. I get to see how I do things and why. And there is much to be learned from that.
So long as there are things wanting to emerge out of this experiment, I’m going to keep going. And for the time being, more things are emerging.
So, I know we’re only 18 days into this 90-day experiment, but I felt like it was time to hit the “reset” button on the entire thing.
No, I’m not starting over, but I felt like I was getting off track a bit. So, for my sake, and yours, I’ve decided to revisit the intention of the experiment while addressing relevant questions and concerns.
Here’s what’s up:
What Happened to You?
In a word, burnout.
I was in denial of this fact because I worked very hard this past year to avoid burnout.
But as they say, whatever you resist persists. Avoiding is a form of resistance.
The goal should have been to be healthy and to be healthier. There’s no resistance there.
I can’t deny that the leadership program, along with a punishing work schedule, has taken its toll on me physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically this past year.
Has it been worth it? Yes. Because I feel I have uncovered what has been at the root of agoraphobia and anxiety all this time. I realized the other day anxiety came knocking at my door because there was something much deeper waiting to be dug up – childhood trauma.
That’s the good news. The bad news is I did not know that digging up the trauma would mean opening Pandora’s Box. I’ve experienced headaches, physical and emotional exhaustion, depression and anxiety, and many shades of grey in between.
But at this point, I am closer to the end of the tunnel than the beginning. Most days I still feel like being a hermit, but I’ve been around people a lot as of late, and it has mostly lifted my spirits.
What is This Experiment About?
It’s about recognizing that everything we read, listen to, or watch has an impact on our lives. Therefore, choosing our inputs is critical.
The experiment is also about love. In this burnout, I have come to a point of surrender I don’t think I ever have before. Achievements no longer matter to me. Attaining wealth and material things matters less and less.
What matters is love. Loving myself, my past, others, and the Universe or God.
As I focus on love, the discoveries, opportunities, and blessings keep coming, seemingly without effort. But I am not seeking those things.
I am also not “doing” the experiment perfectly, but I keep having new cognitions. So, it has been worth the time and effort, and I’m going to keep it going.
I suppose the experiment is not about doing at all, though, and rather about being. In that sense, I am doing it exactly as designed.
What Are You Working on?
So, you might assume that I’m not working on anything right now, or that I’m avoiding work completely.
Trust me, that is tempting…
But it has been my experience that ironically, you need “burnout projects” to get yourself out of burnout.
So, here are the key things that are keeping my mind occupied:
Clean Slate: The event has yet to be announced in an official capacity, but we’ve laid much of the groundwork, and we are currently tracking down a viable venue for the New Year live music and multi-media event.
A new composition: I have been working on this since September. It has been taking a while because of burnout, as well as the fact that it’s one of the more sophisticated pieces of music I’ve worked on in a while.
Comedy writing: I can’t say too much right now, but I am preparing some comedic video content for Clean Slate.
A joint venture: I have a new product in the works in the domain of skincare / aromatherapy.
I am very gratified that my various creative passions are finding expression.
Why Are You Not Getting Back to Me? You Hatin’ on Me, Bro?
I’ve had very little willpower / emotional resilience, making the whole “depression and anxiety” piece hard to predict and manage. At times, one little disturbing thought could send me down a spiral that would force me to meditate to reset.
I know it may seem like I’m okay and I’m still doing stuff, but I think my work quality and output have suffered some because of this entire ordeal.
I’m still trying to put my best foot forward, though, and I apologize to anyone who has been impacted. My priority now is to get the rest I need to get back to my former self.
I’m not trying to ignore your email, but in the world of priorities, unfortunately, I can’t place it any higher right now.
Besides the above-mentioned projects, I am mostly going with the flow. I have learned a very important lesson about being and not just doing, and as counterintuitive as it feels sometimes, I plan to lean into that.
Doing too much can impact my health and well-being. Being has helped me connect with more people, uncover new opportunities, find opportunities to unplug and enjoy life, and importantly, spend less time at the computer (which is why it feels counterintuitive).
I feel closer to God, or Spirit, or Universe, or whatever is out there. It has been responding to me, and miracles have amazingly become commonplace. I plan to follow the leadings and the promptings of the divine that has seen to it that I find my equilibrium again.
It has been a couple of years since I’ve initiated a long-term experiment of any kind. I think the last one was when I published daily for a year.
I began that experiment just as I was about to burn out. I’d committed to the process, though, so I learned from my over-caffeinated mistakes, and stayed the course even though I had a good six months of recovery ahead of me before I started feeling normal again.
The blogging probably helped me process some things I needed to along the way.
As I begin this 90-day experiment, it’s a little like I’m working my way out of a burnout, but a burnout of a decidedly different kind. How I feel right now is a bit like how I felt before leaving for Japan in 2017 – nauseous, exhausted, and emotionally depleted.
(It’s nice to know there’s nothing new under the sun.)
This showed up for me even though I’ve been doing all the right things this year – meditating, working out, getting massages, eating healthy… to be fair, some of these habits did fall in and out of fashion at times.
My only explanation for what I’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks is underlying exhaustion. Something that was stewing beneath the surface that I wasn’t aware of.
(I jokingly called it post-lockdown stress disorder, though there might be some truth to that.)
It’s clear I’m still on the path of recovery, though I feel I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
And so, I’m ready to embrace a new experiment, one where I intentionally and deliberately choose my inputs as opposed to taking in the same things I always do and expecting to reap greatness.
I watched this video yesterday, and it got me thinking…
If everything I read, listen to, or watch is affecting what I’m manifesting, then I’m not exactly on the track I want to be on. It’s time for a bit of a change, and it’s time for a bit of a detox too, if you will.
Importantly, I wanted to start this experiment to:
Love and forgive myself, and my past, as I never have before.
Love and forgive others as I never have before.
Love God as I never have before.
If I focus on these fundamentals, it’s more than likely that I will manifest amazing things as a byproduct. But that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because lately I’ve been calling into my life things I don’t want. Nothing disastrous, but nothing desired either.
It has been said that the secret of your future is hidden in your routine. So, it’s my hypothesis that there are things in my routine that aren’t working, and if I make a few simple shifts, I will get myself back on a better track.
What Are the Rules?
I’m allowed to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos. But I must intentionally choose things that are uplifting, inspirational, or informative. No fluffy entertainment, and nothing that is fear-based. This is the crux of the experiment.
Meditate three times per week for at least a total of 60 minutes. I currently meditate closer to 90 minutes per day, so this should not be a struggle.
I’m not going to force myself to blog daily about the experiment, though I’m sure I will come quite close in the end.
No porn (definition: anything that turns you on). Some say porn is harmless, others say it’s harmful, and there are plenty of opinions of grey in between. I don’t know either way, but I don’t think addictive behaviors are going to support clear, positive thinking, so I’m abstaining.
But Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work, does it?
For the purposes of this experiment, let’s accept the premise that what you’re thinking about is always manifesting in some way, shape, or form.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the exact thing you’re thinking about is manifesting. Rather, you’re manifesting the feeling that accompanies the thought.
Let’s say you were annoyed about getting a headache yesterday. You don’t get a headache today, but that feeling of annoyance was significant enough that it brought in more things to be annoyed about today. Maybe you spill your delicious, healthy green smoothie all over the carpet, as an example.
The thing is events themselves are neutral and we can respond to them as we choose. We can laugh about the spilt smoothie. We can become exasperated at the spilt smoothie. We can punch the wall and injure our hand.
So, besides being intentional about inputs, this experiment is also about choosing a response as life shows up.
I know I called this the “Thinking Positively” experiment, but it’s a simplistic (and possibly even crude) title.
The experiment is more so about becoming aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, choosing what to feel, and filling one’s mind with positive inputs.
Onwards & Upwards
Follow along with me if you’d like to see what happens next.
The first is that you end up taking on too much, even things you realize you ultimately had no interest in taking on. And then you’re either forced to finish the project, begrudgingly, or hurriedly find someone else to handle it on your behalf.
The second is you end up filling your time with tasks that pay but don’t necessarily offer fulfillment. I recently heard the reason Chris Tucker hasn’t always been in the public eye is because he’s looking to have a long career, not just make a ton of money. If the right project came along, he would jump on it, but otherwise, he’d rather not work.
Thirdly, and finally, you end up making shallow progress in most areas, never reaching your goals. Another year disappears into the dust, and you end up feeling like you didn’t accomplish much (even though you were probably busy as all get-out).
This year, I’m trying something new on. I’m interested in making massive progress in one or two areas, not a bit of progress in many areas. And the main thing I’m interested in going deeper into for the next year is podcasting.
And the thing that I’ve started saying to myself is:
“Let’s try it for a year and see what happens.”
In the grand scheme of things, a year is a relatively short amount of time. If you’re not happy with how things turn out in a year, you can always go back to the way things were. Plus, a year is long enough to see results from what you’re doing. You won’t always see much progress in 90 or even 180 days.
Because I’m facing some big decisions this year, thinking this way has been relieving me of some pressure. Because I can try things for a year and see how they turn out. If things don’t work out, I can go back to the way things were.