The Magical Experiment
The pseudo-archaic cover intrigued me. I was in my local bookstore examining the sequel to The Secret, The Magic. An international bestseller and I’d heard rave reviews, so I went out and bought it. The main claim of the author is being grateful will truly change your life, In a magical way far beyond your wildest dreams. To put gratitude to the test I wanted the three major areas of my life to magically improve: health, wealth, and relationships.
After 28 days the challenge truly surprised me and here are my findings!
First I am going to point out the common problems when attempting to be grateful, second I will give you a stage-by-stage account of my progression through gratitude, and third, I will talk about the aftermath of the gratitude experiment.
Let’s start with gratitude problems 101.
Common Gratitude Problems 101
Here are the three most common problems I ran into during my 28 day challenge with gratitude:
1. What does gratitude feel like?
I found myself on more than one occasion asking myself “What does gratitude truly feel like?” I caught glimpses of gratitude working in different areas of my life before. However focusing on gratitude was definitely tough.
My solution to deeply feel gratitude was to pick one exceptional moment in my life for which I am grateful for and write down the sensations I have.
2. The so-called “grateful” friends and family
Along your gratitude challenge you will encounter people who say, “I am a truly grateful and I am super-appreciative all the time!” To that I say…BULLSHIT! I want to throw stacks of The Magic at them and watch them squirm as I hit them with some knowledge.
IMHO, 80% of people are ungrateful pricks! Then to make matters worse they convince themselves they are grateful. Instead skip the pitfall of surrounding your self with these people, Focus on your gratitude challenge!
3. Following through with the gratitude
I have picked The Magic before however failed to complete the challenge the first time around. It was frustrating trying to hold myself accountable.The pivotal factor that helped me succeed this time was a tracking table. To help those of you having trouble holding yourself accountable to the challenge, here is a PDF of a blank tracking table 7-10-13 The Magic Tracking Table
Later on in the post, I’ll talk about how tracking helped me to move through disbelief to complete the challenge.
Now that we have just gone through the 3 common problems with gratitude, it is time to present my stage-by-stage progression through gratitude.
My Grateful Progression
Welcome to my grateful progression! The most valuable part of my journey was the progression. Yet I am always surprised how many self-help books fail to mention the stages of progression. Having a clear picture of success is nearly impossible without a systematic breakdown of stages of progress.Lack of clarity is why 80% of people fail to move forward. To make sure you aren’t a part of the 80%, I detailed my progression below.
The lesson here: It’s okay to be skeptical, but you must take action anyway!
I started of the challenge with the empowering idea,“There is no fucking way, that is gratitude is going to work. It is just wishful thinking!” Mindset of a champion!
I knew that I was skeptical, but it didn’t matter. I was doing this challenge to see if gratitude in your life actually works. The strange thing is, I started seeing results in the first seven days. The results had me totally conflicted! It lead me into an internal struggle and stage two of gratitude.
THE INTERNAL STRUGGLE (AND HOW I GOT THROUGH IT)
My old beliefs were clashing with my new beliefs! I couldn’t believe that the magical check from Day 17 worked. The results I wrote down said “$500 extra dollars in bank account” but I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I still thought that gratitude was all wishful thinking! Except I proved myself wrong with the empirical results in front of me. FUCK!
I proceeded to ask myself “What is going to help me get through this?”
After a 5 minutes of pondering I came up with three solutions:
1. Heuristic (don’t worry I’ll explain further)
2. Success Stories
Interestingly enough, my first solution related well to my progress with Japanese jiu-jitsu.
GRATITUDE MEET JAPANESE JIU-JITSU
Japanese jiu-jitsu is an ancient martial art that is a precursor to Judo, Aikido, and arguably Brazilian jiu-jitsu. I am a history nerd so I had to go to the class. Thinking I would watch the first class, I was wearing a dress shirt and black jeans. Sensei comes over a politely scolds me “You don’t watch the first class, you just do.” Here I am dressed to the nines, taking side falls in an INC dress shirt. Definitely a memorable experience. A. Because of a the ridiculousness of the scenario B. Because I learned the value of falling that day.
I was taught how to properly fall onto my side that day. Volunteering to fall on to your side, is against human nature. The body nature revolts saying “Ground bad!” Yet I knew at that moment, that side falls were a pain period I must go through in order to advance. So I buckled down cufflinks and all, and continued to fall on my side like a manatee having a seizure.
The question is “why did I buckle down a take more side falls?”
The answer is All because I focused on the progression to the black belt.
I then generalized this story of going through the pain period with side falls to my first few days of The Magic Challenge. In the beginning it was a pain to wake up every morning and write down 10 things I would be grateful for. Thinking “What if I run out of things to be grateful for?” (which I later learned if you run out of things to be grateful for, you just aren’t looking hard enough) or “Why do I have to do this?” But at the end each day I was excited to write my ten items down plus I found myself writing down more things to be grateful for along the way.
This process of generalizing, I later researched, is called a heuristic. A heuristic is basically a mental shortcut. (If you want to learn more about it pick up Daniel Khanman’s Book Thinking Fast and Slow)
Now why did it I apply a heuristic?
Because I knew “If I could succeed at breaking through the pain period once, I knew I could do it again!” The heuristic I used focused me on the challenge at hand instead of the annoying parts of the gratitude challenge.
The second solution I used was Success Stories. If I had doubts about gratitude I would just go to thesecret.tv/stories and use the millions of success stories as a boost up. Because if they could do it, so could I !
Here are links to 2 of my favorite “secret stories”
I knew “If others can do it, so can I“
Yes, this might seem simple, It is! It was also extremely effective!
The Third solution I used was by far the most effective. Tracking my progress each day in a simple table allowed me to see my actions being rewarded. (Inspired by the story, Start your own today download the Magic PDF I created)
Evidence, I would track down increased my awareness to gratitude; Plus built my belief system to further believe in gratitude. I would also simply track if I had done the activity by placing a Y/N in the “activity completed column” Placing a No in the column was truly painful and when I didn’t want to do the exercises it forced me to move forward! Use it to follow through on your challenge!
Here is My Actual Tracking Chart
Below are Two Benefits I observed via tracking:
1. Increased risk taking:
An observation I made was I was taking more risks than usual. As I changed my images in my head by focusing on gratitude, I felt as if all my decisions and actions would be rewarded. Yes, insert all cliches about risk taking here (e.g. No risk, no rewards…)
2. Increased Drive
As a result of taking more action and risks, more rewards started pouring into my life. The positive reinforcement drove me to take more action. An interesting side benefit of the increased drive was reaching a cycle of accelerated returns. A term coined by Robert Greene in his book Mastery, a cycle of accelerated returns occurs while mastering a skill where “practice becomes easier and more interesting leading to the ability to practice for longer hours, which increases your skill level, which in turn makes practice even more interesting.”(Greene,60) The cycle of accelerated returns actually pushed me forward to my next stage.
Stage 2: DISPROVED SKEPTICISM
I‘ve seen the results in my life as a result of gratitude. My relationship is amazing. I am enjoying the gratitude I have for my amazing friends and family. The magic check I wrote on Day 17 manifested in less than 2 weeks.
Yet I am skeptical thinking it didn’t work. Rationalizing to myself by saying “well the money was probably just their before hand,” And “It’s too hard and challenging to say thank you everyday and Take time to say thank.” (But I totally know that’s bullshit! Since the gratitude makes me feel a lot better and its going to help magically change my life) This was a pivotal stage for me. Where the hardwiring of my brain is changing since their is conflict. The conflict exists between: Old unconscious incompetence beliefs and New Conscious competence beliefs. The fact of the matter is, results don’t lie. And my results definitely were telling me the truth.
Stage 3: Believing in Magic (No, not in a young girl’s heart)
My experiment gave me results that I was looking for. Yet, I had to takes some time to digest the new information. During the digestions and new neural hardwiring process I continued to practice gratitude. Reason was to keep the momentum going. As each new piece of evidence fell into place the more I believed in gratitude. Here are the results below that made me believe!
RESULTS AND THE AFTERMATH
I created a baseline the first day of the challenge for the purpose of comparing results.
Paying bills late
Not Enough money to share
Bank of america account amount
Out of shape
Anger and Rage from mom
Hopelessness from dad
Medium contact with friends
Here are the improvements from the baseline after The Magic
Paying bills late——————————————Implemented System of have bills paid on time (including opening a killer AYP rate in an online savings account)
Not Enough money to share————————Extra $500 in the bank after Day 17 Magic Check
Out of my ideal shape—————————— Lost Body Fat plus inspired my fathers weight loss
* Bonus Benefits: Helping My 2 of my uncles and aunt’s with weight loss
Anger and Rage from mom———————- Mom and the entire family is going on vacation
Hopelessness from dad————————— The successful weight loss spurred my father on tackle his finances
Medium contact with friends——————– Spent a week and a half with friends, plus friends scheduling to visit me twice in the next two months
*Bonus Benefits: A. My first boat ride with friends! (Yes, I was on a boat!)
All three areas of my life significantly improved. I had ideas and implemented them which lead to $500 extra in my pocket. This was definitely a worthwhile experiment.
After completing the 28-day challenge from Rhonda Bryne WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NEXT?
I am going to test my 80/20 observations the next four-weeks and then get back to you about the results
My overall conclusion about the experiment it was a giant leap forward for me. And the same can be said for you and your life.
RESOURCES1. The Magic- The book that started it all. Enough Said 2. 7-10-13 The Magic Tracking Table Download the simple 2-page table to reduce your rate of failure and have a place to write down how gratitude manifests in your life!
3. TheSecret.tv Secret Stories: The Millions of Success Stories on this website allowed me to move forward and breakthrough with gratitude. Highly recommend scrolling through for inspiration 4. Thinking Fast and Slow If you curiosity was piqued by heuristics, here is a breakthrough book on all things cognitive psychology by Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Khanham
5. Mastery- Robert Greene: Interested more in “the cycle of accelerated returns,” or in bending reality to your will. Pick up Mastery, it is by far the most in-depth book I’ve read regarding the subject. Will speak about this more in later posts. (For those curious, the cycle of accelerated returns is on pg 60 of Mastery)
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