Last week I wrote about my decision to forego sarcasm for 21 days. I'm here to report on how it's going and what's been helping me.
It's day eight. The official "rules" of the complaint free challenge state that each day you actually say a complaint or sarcastic comment, you need to start over at day one. I decided to change it to a straight 21 days for now, and I think I'll keep going for longer than that if I find it's made a difference.
I've noticed that attempting to eliminate negative speech like sarcasm requires constant vigilence each time I open my mouth. I do pretty well when I concentrate on it, but if something else requires my full attention (an issue with the kids, etc) it's easy to slip up.
Here are the resources that have been helping me most:
* pennies - I keep pennies in my pocket throughout the day to serve as a visual reminder of my words. When I say something sarcastic, I switch the pennies from one pocket to the other (the idea is that doing something physical delivers notice to your brain about the behavior, so you begin to be more aware of it).
As strange as this may sound, it has really worked! I started out with one penny, but now I'm using five. They jingle around during the day and each time I hear them, it triggers my resolve to think before I speak.
* Proverbs - It just so happens that I am reading the book of Proverbs from the Bible this month. This book overflows with messages about the power we hold within our words. When I start my mornings, I write one of these verses at the bottom of my to-do list so I can reread it several times.
* Complaint-Free widget - This whole complaint-free idea came from the book Complaint Free World by Will Bowen. His organization has also developed a widget that sits on your computer, so each time I open my laptop it's right there.
* The Power of the Zip - My friend and mentor Jill Melton (in a way she's responsible for the start of my whole writing career) wrote an excellent book that recently released about using your words wisely (or zipping them up!).
One of Jill's ideas that has proven most helpful to me when dealing with my children is to "praise in public and correct in private." Brilliant, right? Jill wrote a separate version of the book that includes passages from the Bible.
* True, kind, necessary - Kim John Payne in Simplicity Parenting suggests that readers run their words through this filter before talking with our children:
Is what I'm about to say true?
Is what I'm about to say kind?
Is what I'm about to say necessary?
We might find that talking less and smiling more improves the atmosphere within our homes dramatically.
“In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy,
blow-out trips to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout
and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at
bedtime, Saturday morning pancakes.”
~ Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting