Friday, September 16, 2011

The Experiment - Day 5

This is Day 5 of my Experiment (where my 10-year-old daughter Rebecca gives me tasks I must complete).

Yesterday was busy, but I did get my two main tasks completed (I did not complete the bonus task of sketching).

Task 1 was to do something I've never done before or haven't done for a long time. I really wanted to challenge myself and not take the easy way out.

After discarding a few mundane ideas, I thought about how I have been working (on and off), on paying more attention to others. So I gave myself this task: Have a conversation without talking about myself (unless someone asks a direct question about me, in which case I need to keep my response brief and to the point).

This is no easy task, since I naturally tend toward narcissism (those of you who know me well may consider this to be the understatement of the year).

Yesterday, I got my chance: I walked into my fiancee Beth's office, where one of her friends (let's call her "A"), was in the middle of demonstrating some very interesting Trauma Release Exercises (TREs). The first thing I did was wish "A" a Happy Birthday. They then included me in the conversation as "A" demonstrated some of the exercises. I did well at the beginning, and asked lots of questions about the process. More than a few times, I caught myself eager to interject, and had to cut myself off as I said "I...". One remark was directed at me, and I responded briefly, allowing the spotlight to shift right back to "A".

I had not mentioned to Beth that I would aspire to behave differently in this conversation. However, after I told her what I was up to, Beth remarked that she had already noticed something different about how I interacted with the two of them!  I noticed that during the discussion, I felt a stronger connection to "A", and that she seemed to come alive as I listened attentively. I want to make this a regular practice until it comes naturally!

Yesterday's Task 2 was fairly simple - make an entry in my Gratitude Journal. Last Thanksgiving, Beth gifted Rebecca and I with Gratitude Journals. I used mine for a day or two before shelving it. To her credit, young Rebecca has since kept her journal religiously, writing in it each night before bed. It only takes a few seconds to write an entry - why am I not doing this on a daily basis?? (My entry is here on the right.)

Here are today's tasks:

  1. Go for a morning walk on our usual loop, which is a little more than a mile. I would have gone already, but this special diet is still messing with me a fair amount, so I'm going to have to wait until my innards settle down - but given this wonderful, cool Fall weather, any time of the day will be perfect for walking.
  2. Learn something today. It could be a new word in Spanish, or something about science or outerspace - just nothing about the economy or government (in essence, stay away from depressing current events). This task is so easy that I will endeavor to learn a couple new things today - in fact, I already have!
  3. Extra - Sketch in your sketchbook. (I didn't get the chance to do that yesterday - I WILL make time today!)
As usual, I'll let you know about today's progress in tomorrow's post.

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