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3 Things I learned Completing 1 Year of the Jar of Awesome

empty glass jar

My wife and I started a Jar of Awesome last January. (Happy New Year everyone, by the way). I was first exposed to the idea by a podcast from Tim Ferriss I listened to, but I’m not sure the actual origin of the idea.

What is a Jar of Awesome? It’s just a jar that you keep in plain sight, and as awesome things happen, you quickly jot them down and drop them in the jar. When New Year’s Eve comes around, you take them all out and read them, reminding yourself of all the awesomeness in your life. If you’d like to learn more, a quick search online pulls up tons of resources.

Over coffee this morning, we dumped the scraps of paper and took turns reading every single one of them aloud. The whole thing took about 5 minutes.

Here are the three things I took away from the exercise:

  1. My biggest awesome occurrences involved other people. And, for me, they tended to be the ones that I most forgot about. I found myself saying, “Oh yeah, I remember that” much more with the events that were personal. Yet, my favorite memories, the ones that brought the most joy to me, were with others. I needed to have that re-presenced.
  2. The more I wrote down the things that were awesome, the more memories got to be remembered on New Year’s Day. I was on a run of filling out the small wins for most of the first half of 2017, so when it came time to read them, I had more memories to enjoy than my wife did. It wasn’t a competition, and we both remarked that the more we participated throughout the year, the more richness we got to recall as we read.
  3. There was satisfaction in just completing the exercise. This is something in the past that would have been started, played with vigor for about two months, and then forgotten all about. I would have decided at some point that the jar needed to be used for another purpose, thrown the slips of paper away without reading them, and moved on. Completing the Jar of Awesome from start to finish, however imperfect it was or wasn’t…there was power in that. Power in setting the intention, and completing that intention, regardless of how the results looked.

The slips of paper from 2017 have found their way to the recycling, and the Jar is set up for the coming year.

There is one slip already in there: “Completing the Jar of Awesome for 2017.”


basketball hoop

Years ago, I was moving into my new apartment. I had a 14-foot truck I had rented to get my stuff in, having been told that I could just pull up to the back when I arrived, through the back gate.

As soon as I got there, it was obvious to me there was no way it was going to fit underneath the top of the gate – the clearance was too low. I mean, like, by two feet. Any reasonable person would agree, just by looking.

As I was backing away to figure out Plan B, a guy in a BMW started to come out of that same parking lot, and he decided to stop and give me some advice. He asked me if I was moving in. “Yes,” I said. He said. “why don’t you just pull the truck into the parking lot?” I responded curtly, “The truck won’t fit.”

He paused. He looked at the height of the truck. He looked at the gate.

He looked me straight in the eye and with a slight shrug of his shoulder a hitch of his head said, “Give it a shot.”

I smiled. He’s serious – that much I could tell. I said okay.

I tried. Of course it didn’t fit. I had to park in the alley as my Plan B.

But the significance of that frame of mind wasn’t lost on me. I knew it wasn’t going to work. So did he, after he looked at it for a second.

My attitude was to give up. His was to give it a shot anyway.

I will remember that lesson for the rest of my life. I never saw him again. Heck, he might have just been visiting someone there.

But I have subsequently been giving things a shot, even if at first glance, it seems impossible.

Now, I’m not delusional – I know trying to fit that truck under that clearance wasn’t going to work, and no matter how much I wished, or pretended, or wanted the truck to fit, it wasn’t.

That’s not the point. Because I realized upon reflection later that I often didn’t try – didn’t give it a shot – on things I was much less certain would fail. Giving up without even trying was something I was doing often.

As we begin the new year, no matter where you are on the spectrum, I challenge you to increase your willingness to find ways to implement this.

Give it a shot.

Kaizen – Getting Just a Little Bit Better Everyday

Kaizen logo

“The brain cannot ignore a question.”

I listened a podcast about The Kaizen Method on the Art of Manliness website.

Since my first listening, I have re-listened three times.

A laypersons definition of Kaizen is a making consistent, very small improvements. Not a new concept for me, but this particular conversation about it is really powerful, and really practical – two of my favorite criteria for things that make me better.

If you are a patient of mine, be ready…I will be implementing this with you immediately. I have noticed over the years that the higher the number of suggestions I give to patients, the less they seem to do. I notice that in myself as well.

When only one small change is given, it is much easier for people to accept and implement into their lives. Given enough time, this then becomes a habit – which is the goal.

Often, this can take the form of a small question you ask yourself. Your brain can reject, experience fear, or otherwise ignore a grandiose one: “How can I fit in 10 minutes a day, three times a day, every day, of self-care on my shoulder?”

Better to ask yourself: “Where can I find 45 seconds each day to treat my shoulder?”

The brain cannot ignore a question. If its small enough, the brain can find an answer.

Give the Kaizen podcast a listen.

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