Real Mind Control: The 21-Day No-Complaint Experiment

458 Comments

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The thought-awareness bracelet and the latest straw that broke the camel’s back.

“This $@#&ing Mac will be the death of me. Intuitive, my ass.”

It just slipped out, and I don’t think I can be blamed. I was ready to leave the PC behind and take my mac overseas for the first time when I couldn’t figure out how to resize photos. On a friggin’ mac? I felt swindled. I also now had to move the bracelet.

For the last four months, I’ve been experimenting with a few types of thought experiments. The two most notable are Radical Honesty, which is 100% guaranteed to get you slapped or worse, and anti-complaining, which I’ll explain here. The latter started in my book agent’s office, where I spotted a pile of purple bracelets on his desk…

“What are these?” I grabbed one and it was inscribed with ‘acomplaintfreeworld.org.’

“Another author of mine. Interesting story, actually.”

And it was. The author was Will Bowen, a Kansas City minister who had recognized — as I have in a previous post — that word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. It’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though. It requires conditioning.

Will designed a solution in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he offered to his congregation with a challenge: go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day 0. It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training.

The effects were immediate and life-changing.

The bracelets spread like wildfire as others observed these transformations, and, to date, more than 5,900,000 people have requested the little devices.

“Can I have one?” I asked my agent.

It all made perfect sense. Fix the words and you fix the thoughts. I’m not a negative person, but I wanted to cut out the commiserating most of us use for 30-40% of all conversation (if you don’t believe me, keep track of how many people start conversations with you in the next 24 hours that center on a complaint or criticism).

I made it 11 days on the first attempt, then I slipped. Back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month. Once I cleared 21 days at around month 3, I no longer needed the bracelet. I’m using the bracelet again now because I’m preparing for some large projects I expect to be challenging enough for Cornholio-style meltdowns.

But what is a complaint?

This is where I disagree with some of the rules set by Will. He asks you to switch wrists whenever you gossip, criticize, or complain, and the definitions can be a bit vague. He also requires you to switch wrists if you inform someone else they are complaining. I think this is counterproductive, as I’m big on constructive criticism.

I defined “complaining” for myself as follows: describing an event or person negatively without indicating next steps to fix the problem. I later added the usual 4-letter words and other common profanity as complaint qualifiers, which forced me to reword, thus forcing awareness and more precise thinking.

Following the above definition, both of the following would require a wrist switch:

“Man, I went into the post office and had to stand behind this rude jerk for 30 minutes. What a waste of time.”

or

“John can be such an a**hole. Totally uncalled for.”

The following variations would not:

“Man, I went into the post office and had to stand behind this rude guy for 30 minutes. It was a waste of time. From now on, I’ll go in the mornings before 10am to avoid the crowd.”

“John was a bit of muppet in there, wasn’t he? I suppose I’ll just send the e-mails directly to Mary in engineering for the next two weeks to get buy-in, then he’ll have to agree.”

Here are a few of the changes I noticed then and am noticing again now:

1) My lazier thinking evolved from counterproductive commiserating to reflexive systems thinking. Each description of a problem forced me to ask and answer: What policy can I create to avoid this in the future?

2) I was able to turn off negative events because the tentative solution had be offered instead of giving them indefinite mental shelf-life (and “open loop” in GTD parlance), resulting in better sleep and more pleasant conversations with both friends and business partners.

3) People want to be around action-oriented problem solvers. Training yourself to offer solutions on-the-spot attracts people and resources.

###

For those interested in the more sophisticated applications and results of the the no-complaint thought experiment, I recommend you order a copy of A Complaint-Free World. I received an advanced copy and finished it in one afternoon, ending up with two pages of notes.

Want to take the 21-day no-complaint challenge for a test drive now?

Last a friend checked, the bracelets had a 3-5-month waiting period, but a rubber band or other bracelet will suffice. If you want the real deal, I have four bracelets that I will mail (might take a bit, as I’m leaving the country Friday) to the best four commenters below who answer the question:

What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

Posted on: September 18, 2007.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

458 comments on “Real Mind Control: The 21-Day No-Complaint Experiment

  1. People should stop thinking pessimistically in order to circumvent trying something. You know the type of person that goes “Oh, that’ll never work.” or “We don’t have a chance.”

    I call them C3POs – remember Star Wars? We are doomed. We are doomed. That’s the kind of “Let’s just give up” attitude that people should stop immediately.

    VIP Party: What season? Is it an indoors or outdoors party?

    Like

    • @A.E.Acar – LOL yeah, I have something similar where I call people ‘Eeyores’. The little blue donkey from Winnie the Pooh? He’s always saying stuff like, “Oh woe is me.” and “It’ll never happen…”.

      Like

  2. addition:
    …that people should stop immediately by adding UNLESS at the end of a sentence:

    “I don’t think this will work UNLESS we…”

    By adding that simple word, you force yourself to think of solutions instead of indulging in despair.

    Like

  3. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?
    -Swearing, every time you swear give a dollar to charity, start doubling if needed.
    -Smoking, there’s a lot of ways for this…

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    How about an awesome game of capture the flag at a park or beach. Winner gets a prize.

    Like

  4. Another excellent post.

    I have played with the idea of using a wristband as a reminder of our mortality(“Life is Not A Dress Rehearsal” on my blog) but this idea is more action orientated. I like it.

    Keep up the life experiments – they benefit us all!

    A

    Like

  5. To resize a photo in iPhoto go to File->Export, set the file type (Kind), then choose “Custom” from the size drop-down. Otherwise iPhoto includes several predefined sizes as well. If you’re looking for a utility to batch resize a search at http://osx.iusethis.com for the word “resize” yields numerous results, the top four of which are freeware. Another good source is http://www.macupdate.com.

    Like

  6. wristband ideas: remove self-critical thinking, negative thoughts about ourselves, old tapes someone left behind in our head;

    I like to think about the “other side” of ideas and projects – to make my mind work a little harder and be more challenged…so, what about the reverse process: goal would be to switch wristband everyday I complete a task, or habit I’m working towards ex: each time I do something I’m afraid to do; each time I get the “big” project done first thing in the day; everytime I wait to get to my email; refused to allow someone or something to interrupt my goal, get my “two” big things done in the day..etc. I like this idea and I’m going to go find one of those wristbands and do it! Have a great trip! Thanks for an AWESOME life-styling book!

    Like

  7. Tim,

    Tim,

    Great post.

    The other behavior that people should stop is negative self talk. Instead, train the mind to see successful outcomes. As you mentioned, thoughts are the seeds of actions.

    As for your party question, give everyone the bracelet that you mentioned above and find a way to keep score. During the party this will surely spark conversation. I am sure people will leave the party thinking about the experience. Also, since they are VIPs a few of them may even spread the ideas to their organizations.

    Keep the posts coming. I really enjoy your insights.

    Like

    • Great posts. Just reading the book again after referring to it for years without reading it cover to cover. Tim, I now have bought both new and old versions.

      What about switching the bracelet every time you tell someone something which you do not believe or mean and/or have said/done only because you felt some sort of internal obligation? Everyone knows when this happens. It is when you call your wife out of obligation only to have a short meaningless conversation or when you comment to an employee on how cute their son is when you don’t mean it. I think doing this wastes everyones time. And if you didn’t do it, they wouldn’t miss it. You would also avoid only listening enough to people to make an empty comment rather than truly listening to them. I think richer conversations would ensue.

      Perhaps don’t move the bracelet in front of the person as that will likely prompt a need to explain. Not good.

      As for the VIPs. I am Canadian so I am going to use Toronto as an example instead. Most VIPs tell me that they fly allot and visit allot of cities but never really get to see them. Take them on a walking tour (it isn’t always snowing here) through the downtown, the different cultural areas, up the CN Tower and along the lake. Have each person take pictures with their cell phones and the best 3 pictures, decided by the group, win priority placment on a shared drive with a quick link. Load all the pictures into the link and give everyone the link so they can go see the pictures for themselves and vote. Everyone would know more about the city and country, would get away from work and many, because people are both nastalgic and self absorbed or sometimes both, would go the site and see the pictures: some to see theirs, others to remember the trip. Best part – all this cost me a day in the city and an hour to upload the pictures and now I have near a grand in my pocket. Not to mention allot of emails and contact information for some VIPs!

      Like

  8. I am generally positive, but I’ll bet I find that I complain more than I think.

    On the topic of another behavior to change: it would be great to see people treat service industry workers with the same respect they afford doctors and other ‘professionals’.

    It isn’t hard, but it is amazing how many times I’ve seen travelers treat airline employees horribly for delays that weren’t their fault. How many times do they complain to their doctor for excess waits?

    Like

  9. Do you switch wrists for negative self defeating thoughts as well? There are a lot of “complaining” thoughts that never get verbalized. “Stinkin Thinkin” as Zig would say; can ruin your whole day!

    We should make the choice to see and think positive thoughts in what seems like a negative situation. Take every thought captive to avoid letting our mind get lazy and slide into “Stinkin Thinkin” which leads to complaining and even more.

    I’m curious; how is being “brutally honest” is going for you? It sound like it would make from some great story’s down the road!

    With a budget of $1,000 I would rent one of those guys that peddle a type of music cart/box around with a monkey playing a little instrument. I don’t know what they are called or if they even have a name but they are certainly unique! That would definitely stand out in my mind.

    Pretty much anything from a different culture that we haven’t already Americanized would be memorable to me.

    Like

  10. The One Minute Millionaire book suggests the use a wrist band for conditioning.

    They suggest you use the band to condition yourself against using the expression “yeah, but”, or more fundamentally that way of thinking. It helps you avoid that whole process of rationalising yourself out of taking action on something you instinctively know is worth a try. For lots of people I think that’s the first negativity they need to address, certainly is for me!

    In their approach however they suggest you ‘snap’ the band against your wrist rather than swap it from arm to arm. It’s surprisingly effective, although I think I prefer the accumulated progress of the 21 day ladder!

    Like

  11. Constructive criticism has been a bit of a grey area for thousands of years. When you criticize someone, you make them vulnerable, and break them down in sorts. So it’s important to know that you can’t just leave it at that. You have no right to criticize someone if you aren’t planning on being there for the aftermath and recovery of your comment.

    Another behavior that people should stop is nail biting. As crude as this system is, I think slapping yourself in the face each time you bite your nails will get your to stop pretty quickly. Associate enough pain with a behavior, and just like a rat, you will find an alternative.

    With a $1000 budget you would have to think outside the box. First, have a dress code of either all pink shirts, polka dots, or something else just as random and casual. Not wearing a suit will get people comfortable, less judgmental, not expecting gourmet Hors D’oeuvres, and just being more fun. Who is going to forget the polka dot party???

    Like

  12. “What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?”

    Compulsive worrying, without a doubt. It inevitably leads to complaining anyway.

    How to stop it? Start placing large cash bets on your so called “worst case scenarios” occurring and see how long it takes you to go broke. Or just use a bracelet. I suppose that would work as well.

    As to the bonus question, I would probably scare the living daylights out of these people with a Lynchian, Sawesque, elaborate, but cheap practical joke. They’re not going to forget that.

    Like

  13. Hi,

    Just read your book. I swear I wrote it ;)

    Not knowing what to tell people that you do, making what you used to make in a year in a month etc. I live this. Checkout my blog if you have a second. The latest post particularly where my mother wishes me a happy birthday and says that she hopes I’ll always live my life the way I do.

    Shoot me an email next time you are in Thailand, we should grab a beer.

    Cheers

    Bill

    Like

  14. Blaming others for current frustrations or challenges tops my list of a thought pattern to change. Naturally, if the resposiblity or “fix” needs an other, that should be determined and assistance sought. But I mean losing the taste for that yummy feeling of “poor me” that is so devitalizing and counterproductive.

    The VIP’s would be treated to the best most unique foods, musicians and spa treatments I could arrange through networking with new start-up superstar companies in my area who appreciate the value of this kind of exposure. I would use the $1000, if needed, to fill any holes in the experience (decorations, invitations…)but I can’t imagine a service or product, except maybe postage, that can’t be arranged through connecting.

    Like

  15. I’ve done a similar experiment in the past relying on a Bible verse (which one I can’t remember) that said to do everything as if you’re doing it for God…and don’t complain. I found that without complaining, tasks that I’d normally found unbearable became much easier and if I really got creative in my thinking I could even find some joy in accomplishing those tasks.

    Like

  16. What other behaviors to track and stop? Easy.

    Getting sidetracked.

    When you end up doing something you didn’t originally intend to do, you’re sidetracked.

    For example, you might get an email from a friend, then click a link, and suddenly start reading up on something interesting. (It could even be the 4 Hour Workweek.) If it’s not what you originally planned to do, you just disrupted your day. It’s not possible to be effective if your day is constantly disrupted.

    “Do It Tomorrow” is a great “time management” (actually self-management book) that explains this well. For best results, we should Think -> Decide -> Act. But if you’re ineffective, you tend to go with Stimulus -> Response.

    There’s no real thinking involved – no real using your brain to get the most out of your time and your day. So getting rid of sidetracking is one of the best things you can do to become more effective.

    Personal experience also shows that it makes you happier and more satisified. I’m not perfect but I’m getting there. :)

    Like

  17. I think one thing to be conscious of is that some times we need a cornholio style breakdown to make real changes. It’s unhealthy to let things go for too long, and setting up action items allows us to deal with problems, but often our solutions to difficult problems are unpleasant themselves. To break through this and make real action rage is sometimes the only solution.

    Like

  18. I actually did something similar to this while I was in high school. I stumbled on it after reading about Ben Franklin and his book which he tracked his negative behaviors. I tried to keep a similar book (using my own list of negative actions) but the book quickly fell to the wayside. So instead I would devote a coincidental 3 weeks to one topic, for me though I successfully went the first 3 weeks without complaining (or maybe without realizing I had complained.)

    Like

  19. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    I think that one of the most bothersome traits that some people have is centered around cursing. I went to visit family this past weekend, and my nephew (a freshman in high school) had a reasonably clean mouth for most of the evening. Once he thought that I was asleep and was chatting with his little brother, though, he began sprinkling in 4 letter words so much that his little brother called him on it and told him to clean it up.

    I think that cursing in general, even when it isn’t used as a complaint and especially when it is used as an unnecessary qualifier, would be a great habit to break using a method like this. The quarter jar approach sometimes works, but not usually.

    If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?
    I’d host a group run through Central Park (that being the only runner friendly place I know in NYC since I haven’t spent a lot of time there outside of the marathon when the streets were closed), but that might not appeal to people outside of my usual crowd.

    Like

  20. One of the most insidious and fundamentally debilitating behaviors we all tend to have is that of “second-handedness.” It starts when we are children, obsessed with “fitting in” and being liked, extends into high school where we obsess endlessly about being “cool,” and it carries into adulthood by default.

    In essence, “second-handedness” is our tendency to judge what we say and do according to the standard of what we think OTHER people will think, rather than by the standard of what WE think or what will make US happy.

    It’s all about motive.

    Are you wearing that shirt because YOU like it and because it’s comfortable — or are you wearing it because you know you paid $175 for it and you hope you might have a chance to mention that when you go out tonight with your friends?

    Are you ordering that cup of coffee because YOU really love that flavor of coffee — or are you ordering it because you think you will look cool to the girl you are taking out?

    Are you dumping money into a house you can’t really afford because YOU love it and because it makes you happy — or are you really just thinking about outdoing your friends from high school and excited about showing it off to your family when they come over?

    It goes on and on. It’s relentless.

    What this kind of habitual thinking leads to is a stale, plastic, inauthentic, other-centric life. Worse, it separates you from reality: what is important to you anymore has nothing to do with what is REALLY going on, but with what you want others to THINK ABOUT YOU. You sacrifice your “self” for that hazy murk you allow yourself to obsess over: what other people might think (or not think) about you.

    And of course, we all tend to do this to one extent or another. But it can be terribly destructive not only to our capacity to be authentically happy but also to our capacity to create real lives for ourselves (as apart from the wishy-washy paranoid delusional drama-filled manipulative bull***t what-will-the-neighbors-think? scrabbling existences most people around us are muddling their way through).

    How do you get past it? How do you stop making every damn choice center around this obsession with what other people are going to think of you? The best solution I’ve come up with so far is to ask myself “What would Roark do?” (Referencing the character of Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead — the iconic example of the Individual, who thinks and lives entirely apart from any concern with what others might think of him.)

    Learning to ask that kind of question can help, especially when combined with learning to force yourself to break the pattern whenever you catch yourself falling into second-handed thinking.

    Were you going to wear that shirt because you wanted to brag about what you paid for it? Fine. You just blew it. Put it back on the hanger and wear a T-shirt instead.

    Were you entertaining the idea of what you were going to drop at the party to let everyone know you just bought a Porsche? Fine. No more. You now are going to resolve not to mention the damn car at all. And if someone else brings it up, you’re going to pass it off as quickly as possible and change the subject.

    We need to learn to stand as individuals. We need to think for ourselves. We need to live our own lives — and stop trying to weigh our own value according to what we think others are thinking of us.

    One caveat: The kid in high school who wears black all the time and is covered in piercings and has a “Suck Mein Kampf” T-shirt — that kid is just as tied up in second-handedness as the rest. He is just as wrapped up in what others are thinking of him. He is still playing for an effect, albeit a negative one. Same with the “cool” kid in the leather jacket slouching around at the mall. He may look like he doesn’t give a crap, but he is keenly aware of the looks he is drawing, barely able to think past how “cool” he must look to everyone around him.

    False-individuality is just another kind of conformity; you’re still thinking in the pack, you’ve just chosen a different pack.

    If you are going to live your own life, a legitimate and true life, an authentic life … you need to stop basing everything you say and do on how you think others will look at you (or what you hope people with think or not think about you).

    We need to stop trying to impress everyone, stop worrying about what all the other sheep are thinking about us.

    We need to start living our own lives. We need to start making our decisions based on our own judgment of reality, on our reasoned estimations of right and wrong, on the basis of what makes sense and what truly makes us happy.

    ~ Michael Fisher

    Like

  21. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    In my IT department we have a morning scrum (meeting) at exactly 8:45am. At first, employees were arriving late to this meeting and that was annoying our leader. So he developed a penalty of $1 to each individual who arrived late to the meeting. We even created a board called the ‘Tard’ board (for tardiness) and we have a head shot of each employee that moves up a ladder daily for each late meeting. The person with the most late mornings is pronounced the Tard king and is fined $5 for being late the next day. The Tard king also has to facilitate the morning meeting and present to the company during our weekly IT update.

    At first it was a bit controversial and no one liked the idea of essentially being fined for being late. But people started showing up on time. What I really think happened was that peer pressure became more of a larger incentive to be on time.

    This idea rolled out to the rest of the company and now senior leaders have to pay $20 if they are late for their monthly meeting.

    All the money of course goes to a charity which we chose in advance.

    Like

  22. Behavior to stop? Hoarding.

    Hoarding of tax returns from 20 years ago, hoarding of dot matrix computer parts, hoarding of clothes you’ll never wear, hoarding of ideas.

    Best way to get rid of them is to look at why you as an individual hoard things/ideas/etc…usually related to a feeling of scarcity or insecurity about the future. I believe we hoard not because we live in the past and want to hang onto sentimental stuff (taxes aren’t sentimental!)but because we might need it in the future and therefore we have a mindset of not having enough in the future and we come to expect to not have enough. Once you have a good understanding of why you’re holding onto things and what fears you have about your future…as well as what confidence you have in yourself…you can start to shed the clutter in your home, in your relationships, in your job decisions. The big change for me was in looking at each room in my house, each job task, and each activity in my life and deciding what would go with me if I had to move and start a new life elsewhere in 48 hours (I live in hurricane country). Whatever would go with me stayed and the rest, I got rid of.

    Like

  23. Hi,

    This isn’t related to this post and I apologize up front for that. Like many of the readers here, I’m a fan of Tim Ferris. I recently came across two autographed copies of the 4HWW which I am auctioning off on eBay for charity (as inspired by Tim). Proceeds go to Donors Choose, a non-profit Tim has mentioned before in this blog.

    Here’s the link and apologies for the “spam”:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=200152212700&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT&ih=010

    Like

  24. I think people should stop watch TV as much as they do (not stop 100% though). The best way to do it is when you watch TV you have to train at a gym (or at home) for the same amount of time as you watched TV. This way people will get more healthy very fast!

    For the party I would get a sponsored hall to be in, for example a restaurant who can sell drinks and give a presentation about their company to the guests. Then I would have the party as a potluck supper where everyone bring there own little food or snack, imagine 100 different choices for food =). After the party I would take the guests out in the sun (in a park) and play some free outdoor games like kubb or boule.

    Like

  25. I love it. Your definition (“describing an event or person negatively without indicating next steps to fix the problem”) is a good one. I have to say it bugs the hell out of me when someone complains about the same thing over time >>without making a change

    Like

  26. “What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?�

    Pretending to be a victim.

    A victim mentality stems from ignorance, fear, a misunderstanding of reality. This can be resolved by being informed and continued personal growth (but not too much reading: inform and then act!).

    I’d love to see the human race evolve more quickly through an increase in emotional intelligence and general personal awareness. Its happening – slowly!

    Love your work Tim.

    Like

  27. What habit do I think people would benefit from losing? Watching too much TV! I know so many people whose potential is completely wasted because they spend every discretionary hour on doing nothing in front of the TV. I have friends who flirt with poverty because they spend their discretionary earnings on cable subscriptions. There are whole web sites dedicated to getting free from TV, but the easiest way is just to decide to keep it turned off, and to plan what you’re going to watch. Set an egg timer, if you need to.

    Unlimited budget for a VIP party in SF or NYC? I always wanted to have a third world dictator party. Everybody dresses up in garish military uniforms, oversized sunglasses, and leopard print berets, and drinks pina coladas or sweet sweet coffee. A trip to a thrift store and a visit to a seamstress to sew on the craft store tassles, and you’ve got all it takes for a social leveler. Guests spend the evening getting to look completely ridiculous, and forgetting that they’re VIPs. Plus who doesn’t want to be a third world dictator, once assassination is taken out of the picture?

    Like

  28. #1 Behavior that needs to stop: judging others on knee-jerk reactions & one’s own moral agenda. (I can dream right!?)

    Growing up, my mom used to have a really cheesy wooden/photo plaque hanging on our wall that said “Old Indian Prayer: You cannot judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” Despite it’s kitsch, the moral was there.

    I guess the best way to curb this sort of thing would be to use a method similar to that of the complaining bracelet. In this case, the action taken would be a matter of stopping, thinking about a situation from someone else’s point of view and reassessing. It just seems a lot more human to start viewing others in this way.

    As for the VP question…
    I would probably coordinate the event with a city-wide free music festival or outdoor concert. Then I would spend my $1,000 on several 12 foot subs and other outdoorsy-picnicky food & drink.

    Like

  29. One of the most insidious and fundamentally debilitating behaviors we all tend to have is that of “second-handedness.” It starts when we are children, obsessed with “fitting in” and being liked, extends into high school where we obsess endlessly about being “cool,” and it carries into adulthood by default.

    In essence, “second-handedness” is our tendency to judge what we say and do according to the standard of what we think OTHER people will think, rather than by the standard of what WE think or what will make US happy.

    It’s all about motive.

    Are you wearing that shirt because YOU like it and because it’s comfortable — or are you wearing it because you know you paid $175 for it and you hope you might have a chance to mention that when you go out tonight with your friends?

    Are you ordering that cup of coffee because YOU really love that flavor of coffee — or are you ordering it because you think you will look cool to the girl you are taking out?

    Are you dumping money into a house you can’t really afford because YOU love it and because it makes you happy — or are you really just thinking about outdoing your friends from high school and excited about showing it off to your family when they come over?

    It goes on and on. It’s relentless.

    What this kind of habitual thinking leads to is a stale, plastic, inauthentic, other-centric life. Worse, it separates you from reality: what is important to you anymore has nothing to do with what is REALLY going on, but with what you want others to THINK ABOUT YOU. You sacrifice your “self” for that hazy murk you allow yourself to obsess over: what other people might think (or not think) about you.

    And of course, we all tend to do this to one extent or another. But it can be terribly destructive not only to our capacity to be authentically happy but also to our capacity to create real lives for ourselves (as apart from the wishy-washy paranoid delusional drama-filled manipulative bull***t what-will-the-neighbors-think? scrabbling existences most people around us are muddling their way through).

    How do you get past it? How do you stop making every damn choice center around this obsession with what other people are going to think of you? The best solution I’ve come up with so far is to ask myself “What would Roark do?” (Referencing the character of Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead — the iconic example of the Individual, who thinks and lives entirely apart from any concern with what others might think of him.)

    Learning to ask that kind of question can help, especially when combined with learning to force yourself to break the pattern whenever you catch yourself falling into second-handed thinking.

    Were you going to wear that shirt because you wanted to brag about what you paid for it? Fine. You just blew it. Put it back on the hanger and wear a T-shirt instead.

    Were you entertaining the idea of what you were going to drop at the party to let everyone know you just bought a Porsche? Fine. No more. You now are going to resolve not to mention the damn car at all. And if someone else brings it up, you’re going to pass it off as quickly as possible and change the subject.

    We need to learn to stand as individuals. We need to think for ourselves. We need to live our own lives — and stop trying to weigh our own value according to what we think others are thinking of us.

    One caveat: The kid in high school who wears black all the time and is covered in piercings and has a “Suck Mein Kampf” T-shirt — that kid is just as tied up in second-handedness as the rest. He is just as wrapped up in what others are thinking of him. He is still playing for an effect, albeit a negative one. Same with the “cool” kid in the leather jacket slouching around at the mall. He may look like he doesn’t give a crap, but he is keenly aware of the looks he is drawing, barely able to think past how “cool” he must look to everyone around him.

    False-individuality is just another kind of conformity; you’re still thinking in the pack, you’ve just chosen a different pack.

    If you are going to live your own life, a legitimate and true life, an authentic life … you need to stop basing everything you say and do on how you think others will look at you (or what you hope people with think or not think about you).

    We need to stop trying to impress everyone, stop worrying about what all the other sheep are thinking about us.

    We need to start living our own lives. We need to start making our decisions based on our own judgment of reality, on our reasoned estimations of right and wrong, on the basis of what makes sense and what truly makes us happy.

    Like

  30. Talking badly about others.

    Sure, sometimes it’s deserved, but nobody’s life is improved by bad-mouthing others.

    Simple solution…carry a small vile of something that tastes horrible to you. It could be some pepper type substance (like the stuff used to make people stop biting their fingernails). Whatever it is, make sure it’s something awful to YOU.

    Every time you catch yourself talking badly of others. Take it from your purse or pocket, touch it to your tongue and PRESTO – you’ll have a bad taste in your mouth (deserving).

    You could add one other element if you want – GREAT TASTE ASSOCIATED WITH KIND WORDS SPOKEN OF OTHERS. Get something that tastes wonderful to you. Everytime you speak kindly of others, hit your tongue with it.

    Like

    • Another solution is saying it directly to their face. Oh, you’ll brake the habit of complaining to others if you have to say it their face. I have lots of wonderful friends, but no body is perfect and neither am I. We all have a complaint or two that we wouldn’t want to share with the person we love. I love the idea of coming up with a solution though! If some one’s behavior is worth complaining about, perhaps there is a strategy to deal with it so that the complaint doesn’t grow. Once the strategy is successful, let go of the complaint.

      Like

  31. By the way, STICK WITH THE MAC. You will never go back. Not sure what problems you’re having or why – but anybody smart enough to figure out how to work only 4 hours a week can surely conquer a Mac computer.

    Like

  32. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    I would say the worst habit I and lots of my co-workers have is trying to do other work while having a face-to-face conversation with someone. For example, I have the terrible habit of talking to someone while sitting in my chair in my office. When the other person is talking I’m often tempted to check my email notifications, shuffle papers, etc. It’s rude and I’m trying very hard not to do it. My method so far has been to shut off my monitor when someone stops by.

    Like

  33. Just to echo Leonard Klaatu’s comment: Stick with the Mac! I made the switch earlier this year, got myself the MacBook Pro, bought all new software (Adobe Creative Suite, BBEdit, iLife and iWork, Final Cut Express DV, etc.) … and I would never under any circumstances ever go back.

    If you need to resize photos, I recommend any of the Adobe Photoshop products. You can get something as easy as Photoshop Elements or as full-featured as Photoshop CS3. You can also get Adobe Lightroom, which I consider the current pinnacle of photo-organizing and general photo-editing software. You don’t get all of the crazy stuff you can do with Photoshop, but you get an awesome tool for organizing your photos, editing them, creating slide shows and web galleries, and preparing prints.

    If you pick up Lightroom, I’ll personally give you an over-the-phone training session and have you up and running with best practices in an hour.

    At any rate — stay with the Mac. There’s a slight learning curve, but once you’re through it, you will never go back to a PC again.

    Like

  34. Shoot. I started using a variation on this about four years ago and never thought to try to turn it into a movement. Instead of switching hands, though, I snap it against my wrist. Switching hands is a probably a better way to measure effectiveness over time, though.

    Also, I totally agree with the next action approach to complaints. I think this can be applied to almost any negative emotion. http://www.askderekscruggs.com/the-emotional-inbox.html

    Like

  35. Online Addiction (that includes blogs!)

    Some of us spend way too much time online. It can lead to social isolation, passivity, and even depression. (And no, your “friends” on Facebook, MySpace, Friendster and other social network sites are not really your “friends.” Vast majority are mere acquaintances.)

    Decide for yourself ahead of time what number of hours a week would be reasonable to spend online… for work and other things. Set that as your max and don’t go over it.

    It might be easier for some to set the number of hours (in their waking life) they want to be offline.

    So you might say, I want to make sure I have 5 hours each day when I’m not at my computer. For every day that you miss your offline goal, you have to whip yourself 5 times OR you have to put $5 in a jar and spend that money on your friends.

    Like

  36. Awesome post.

    I went to a Warrior Camp that taught to us to do something similar. Every time we said something negative and unproductive, we’d “slap” our hand with the bracelet. We wore the bracelet for 30 days.

    I like Will’s “wrist switch” method better. Like you, I’m preparing for some major projects that are really going to test my patience, so I’m going to pick up a bracelet today.

    As far as what else people should stop – I strongly believe that people need to act before they think.

    It’s quite stunning, really… how so many people stop themselves from doing things because they over-think.

    In my opinion, this could easily be fixed by people putting themselves in situations that challenge their comfort zone, as you mentioned in 4HWW.

    By pushing themselves at least once a week (or once a day), people will come to realize that their fear (definition of fear: ANTICIPATION of pain – as in, it hasn’t happened yet) was completely in their head.

    A personal “slogan” might help, too. Mine is (quite originally) “Just do it.”.

    Like

  37. I think people should stop watch TV as much as they do (not stop 100% though). The best way to do it is when you watch TV you have to train at a gym (or at home) for the same amount of time as you watched TV. This way people will get more healthy very fast!

    For the party I would get a sponsored hall to be in, for example a restaurant who can sell drinks and give a presentation about their company to the guests. Then I would have the party as a potluck supper where everyone bring there own little food or snack, imagine 100 different choices for food =). After the party I would take the guests out in the sun (in a park) and play some free outdoor games like kubb or boule.

    Like

  38. I’ve been getting your blog posts via email from feedburner. I thought you might want to know that the code in the Go To My PC advertisements is getting broken somewhere in the pipeline. The result is html code sitting in plain view of your blog entry emails.

    the code “alt=3D”Try It Free” border=3D”0″/>” appears, it is happening because of a “br” tag that is in the imagr tag of the advertisement.

    ###

    Thank you, Thomas! I really appreciate you letting me know, and I’ll pass this on to them.

    All the best,

    Tim

    Like

  39. * From Apple’s Tips section:

    Resizing Photos for Emailing

    After you attach a photo to your email message (you can just drag-and-drop the image into the New Message window), take a look in the bottom-right corner of your email message window, and you’ll see a pop-up menu where you can choose the Image Size you’d like to send. As soon as you choose a size (other than Actual Size), the image is immediately scaled down right within the email message window so you can see the exact size of the photo you’re sending.

    http://www.apple.com/pro/tips/emailresize.html

    * From Apple’s Downloads section:

    Film Roll 1.0

    A group of plug-ins for the Finder. Film Roll provides one-click automation for: Adding photos to iPhoto, Cropping Photos, Flipping Photos, Changing the Image Type, Resizing the Photos, Printing Photos, and Placing a frame around the photos.

    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/automator/filmroll.html

    Like

  40. I think people should stop referencing fake or phantom knowledge like, I heard from someone that such and such should be done this way or with this and that. Please check resources and make sure the info is valid rather than Internet myth, fairy tale or people speaking out of their butt on issues they dont really understand! Enforcement would be to challenge everyone whenever they start speaking this way and drill them for names and references to hopefully annoy them enough so they dont blurt out unqualified advice in front of you ever again.

    Idea for 1000 VIP event – have 100 of them volunteer to be the servers to the others. Call it a lesson in giving and serving to your peers. An event for VIPs with time and effort donated by VIPs. Have another dozen or so be the speakers (10min each) on who they consider to be VIPs in life or their industry and why. Invite some or all of the guests to bring their own finger food in a pot-luck style event to share with their VIP peers. Have another 50 or so be the wrap-up/clean-up folks at the end of the event. Invite some of the wealthiest VIPs to donate door prizes to be raffled off to their fellow VIPs or donated to charity. Use contacts and good PR to book a nice hall somewhere and advise the hall owner to give you the hall for $500 or free so that he can get the free publicity of all these VIPs coming together in one place and getting exposure at this hall. Use $500 for nice looking invitations from a printing company that can also use more exposure and will be willing to reduce their rate to this amount so they could get free advertising on the back of the invitation cards and a logo or name at the bottom of each as a co-sponsor of the event.
    Create Press Releases and distribute to all local TV stations and newspapers to invite them to cover the event – free publicity. Have a current great speaker/author/public figure be a special guest at the event and make sure they donate their time for free for the publicity and chance to mingle with many other VIPs. Great for famous politicians around the time of their re-election and campaigning. Also good for authors of new books! Have a Corporate sponsor or two to help get their name on the invite card and at the entrance to the main hall. Give them access to the VIP address/contact list for follow-up in exchange for cost of decorations, entertainment, limo service, and security.

    Like

  41. What other behavior do you think people should stop?

    Interrupting. Just as Never the Same River indicates, we often get so used to multitasking that we assume we can actually listen while doing something else. We forget that communication is a dual-party process. To listen effectively you must be an active participant.

    We have a policy in our office of the ‘3 Second Rule’ in conversations. You speak, you finish, I wait 3 seconds and then I speak. Repeat. It has transformed the way we communicate and improved both the authenticity of our message and the respect we all feel from our peers. The difficulty is when we get a group moving and everyone has a pressing idea to share RIGHT NOW. We are working on learning to ‘park it’ by jotting it down and maintaining our attention on the current speaker. It it is admittedly challenging but the benefits are worth the effort.

    Additionally, the uninitiated often are unable to allow three seconds of silence and keep talking, offering more and more insight. Clients have shared trusted information without hesitation simply because it seemed we were waiting for more.

    Like

  42. I’d eliminate the passive aggressive exasperation sigh. It’s one of my all time pet peeves. I’d say every time you catch yourself on the inhale for the sigh turn it into a yawn and rewire your brain to feel exhausted by the negative emotion instead of laying it on other people…

    As far as a party in SF you have to rent this and drop the extra bucks or charge a few bucks at the door. It’s BADASS!

    [Jason, you put in the magic link! That’s what I remembered you talking about. I’ve removed the link so that it isn’t booked until 2015, but you’ll be invited to the party ;)]

    Have a good trip!

    Like

  43. TIM KEEP THE MAC! You don’t realize how much we’ve all been programmed by PC’s. We wrongly think we are getting smarter because of our ever-growing knowledge base of useless technical tricks that we should have never needed in the first place. It consumes our time, brainspace and energy. The PC is entirely ANTI-4HWW, the Mac is 100% pro 4HWW.

    TIM, PLEASE MAKE A POLL ON THIS…
    (first define the voter)
    1. always a mac user
    2. pc then converted to mac
    3. still a pc user
    4. mac, then converted to pc (kidding!)

    You believe PC’s are ANTI-4HWW & MACS are PRO-4HWW
    YES/NO

    Re: complaining. I just don’t complain. I’m super action oriented to take the next step toward victory. And people around me get reprogrammed as a result.

    Re: PARTY PROMO:

    I googled Jeremiah’s “Lynchian, Sawesque” and it was indexed in Google 4 hours ago, almost immediately. WOW! Google must take you as a real hip/authoritative place to be!

    Anyway, now that I know what it means, I do think some sort of MAJOR PRACTICAL JOKE would be great. It could even net some great publicity in the process.

    How about we stealthily hook the media to cover some new TREND amongst CEO’s that has them only working one day a week. At 8am they all watch a 15 minute 4HWW web program to “tune them in” (cult like) then, a reporter follows one of them through his day (where he gets a week of work done). We’ll come up with some quirky management behavior and visuals. eg. He wears a suit and tie, but has a water bottle clipped to his alligator belt, and the back of his tie is terry cloth to wipe off the sweat. When he walks through the office the crowd the crowd opens up a foot ahead, like a repelling magnet, then closes back around him. He speaks in a top down computer programming / telegram style.

    Do you remember the movie “Revenge of the Nerd”? Later the main guy became a nerd for hire at parties. You could have several of these 4hww actors, men and women, young and old, PLANTED in the party. Their behavior starts out fairly normal and progresses to ridiculous by the end of the night. eg1. they address people by their project/profession because Names are useless info that they won’t remember anyway. eg2. they join a small group chat and try to organize and prioritize things so that it is all relevant and focussed. they interrupt people who provide too much detailed info that may get them off track.

    At the end of the night make an announcement about some coaching you will be doing and these people are heading it up. It can be totally wacked 4hww concepts.

    shoot a video of the entire event and later edit into something for youtube. the 4hww spoof party video could become a viral hit to get exposure for the real 4hww.

    DAMN THAT WOULD BE FUN. How important do I have to be, to be a VIP? Maybe I could be one of the planted 4hww wackos.

    Victory.

    Like

  44. One other behavior which coincides with complaining is comparing.
    Comparing oneself or condition to that of another. Jane has X,Y,Z and doesn’t have to do A,B,C like I do.

    If you see there is a problem or something that you would liked changed, (wo)man up and change it! If you are a couple, brainstorm what and how things can be changed. Though I’ve found that some people will always find somethig to complain about, no matter what has been changed.

    Figure out your TMI and set on a path to meet those needs so that you(rs) can be just like the Janes of the world or something better.

    Now back to my mousehole.
    n

    Like

  45. Behavior to stop: I like the suggestion to stop multitasking. I also think people should stop deflecting compliments (“oh no, really, it’s nothing”) and just say “thank you.”

    VIPs and low budget: I’d tell them to dress casual and arrange some low-rent fun: bowling and beer, a picnic on blankets in the park, renting little boats and taking people fishing and then grilling up the fish for dinner, a bonfire on the beach. All that wonderful stuff that most of us haven’t enjoyed since high school / college.

    Like

  46. If I could have my way (which I can’t), everyone would maintain steady eye contact in their interactions with others. The inability to maintain eye contact is habitual, and the habit can be broken by simply forcing yourself in the opposite direction.

    As for the VIP party… simple, I’d make it a flash mob.

    Like

  47. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Worry:

    My mom has brought the family down for years through her excessive worry. This behavior has never seemed to benefit anyone in any way. I understand the difference between active concern and worry. Where active concern is a concentrated identification and focus on a problem for the purpose of eliminating it. And so I observe that where there is no desire / motivation / interest to actively seek a solution , then ‘worry’ seems to be the result. In my experience and in my life … a monumental waste of time and energy.

    And so how do you train yourself to stop prolonged worry?
    Some people enjoy worrying. Who knows why? And they don’t want to stop. So stay away from these people. Duh. But – for me – growing up with the worrywort mom …

    Try this:

    Train yourself to identify every single source of anxiety as soon as it enters your mind. Merely exercising your mind in this way helps in the elimination process. Most of worry can be removed if it is only identified in detail.
    Two questions I ask myself immediately are:

    #1 Is someone going to die if this problem is not resolved?
    #2 How bad – REALLY – is the ‘worst case’?

    – surround yourself with positive people and positive things that make you feel good. Don’t suffer depressed people’s thought patterns to move into your mind. They are usually big on worry.

    Here is an EXCELLENT article that I found on the internet dealing with worry.

    http://www.anxietyculture.com/worry.htm

    >>>

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    Memorable and fun?

    I find that interactive meetings that include copious amounts of audience interaction ( all the audience so that nobody feels spotlighted or embarrassed ) are the most memorable and fun.

    The worst ( most boring ) meetings are were someone gets up and talks the whole time about business.
    Comedy … surprises … Interrupt the meeting with some form of hoax, humor or parlor trick …
    Do something random and high energy. Have the backstreet boys come in and grab audience members to help them to perform … hell, they should go for about $1000 now …

    Give out name badges that already have a random name on them … Sound stupid? … well even ‘stupid’ stuff is more fun than … well …. ‘boring’ …

    Like

  48. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Making excuses seems to be very destructive to attaining goals, and more importantly, to get back on track if encountered by a setback. Excuses often are a “let myself off the hook” mechanism that impedes potential. I myself am a culprit more often than I like to admit.

    Recently I’ve tried to address not making excuses with REVERSE-EXCUSES tied to specific consequences. If I have not attained my goal and/or have suffered a setback, instead of saying “I can’t get to the gym to work out 5 times this week,” I instead say, “I can’t sit at home and gain 5 pounds.” I’ve also realized that making your goals public (telling friends,family) also builds an important support system and the feeling that if you do not try to attain your goal(s), you’ve let yourself down in their eyes.

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    A NYC Central Park/SF park BBQ would definitely be my suggestion. BBQ food allows for a variety of cost-conscious alternatives (without tipping!). I’d complement the BBQ with team-building activities, such as social games and physical activities like volleyball, potato sack races, horse shoes, etc.

    Like

  49. I love this post. It really comes comes down to what kind of person you want to be.

    Anyone with a passion for what they do will set goals for themselves, usually aggressive goals. And many times, you need help from people around you to achieve them. What kind of person motivates their peers, friends and collegues? It’s not the person complaining and draining everyone’s energy.

    Complaining is tempting when your patience is tried and you just want to get sh*t done and we all give in. But solutions are helpful and positive, they just take a little more work.

    For the party – hire a great band, get a good music set list, and ask your guests if any of them want to play a song or two. I’m always shocked at the hidden music talent out there. And people like to hear each other play, good or bad. Music changes people for the better :)

    Try to stick out the mac. It’s worth it once you get used to it. I picked up that same book you’re holding in your hand when I was feeling the same way. I think David Pogue wrote that one – he’s one of the best tour guides you could ask for.

    Like

  50. …attempted to leave a comment about 30 minutes ago, but it never showed. So, a recap!

    Behavior to stop: Avoiding eye contact! Solid eye contact makes a world of difference in any interaction.

    Party for VIPs: Organize a flash mob. It would likely be a new experience for all in participation, and would very likely be a good memory. Afterwards, head to a nearby pub or diner, or hold a picnic or barbecue.

    As for the Mac stuff… I empathize with you. I support Macs and OSX Server in the enterprise, and I constantly find myself near screaming in frustration at how difficult it is to accomplish seemingly simple tasks (this is even worse with OSX Server, you have no idea).

    On the upside, once you’ve mastered OSX you will know plenty of awkward key commands that will be of absolutely no use to you in any other OS.

    Like

  51. Hey!! Tim, i´m Brazilian love your site and check it every time you actualize.

    So,about the bracelets question…
    Generalizing: Everybody nows their one or two major problems. Make a Bracelet and change it every time you do this problems.

    In my case: From now on i will heave 2 bracelets.
    1)I will change every time i perceive that i´m not being courageous.
    2)Every time i lose control of a situation i could not lose control.( only on things that matter. Like, when i go to a party and i should be leading or participating on the coversation but i’m not… i can´t explain it right but i think you got the message.)

    P.S
    Sorry about the bad writing hehehe
    herba mate always ehheheh

    Like

  52. I have been experimenting with this concept for a month or so. I was having a streak of bad days at work. When my wife would call I would tell her about my “terrible day” and just feel worse. Once I realized this I changed my speech. When she called I told her I was having a great day. Then I had a great day. She later told me that when I started speaking positively she started having great days too.

    BTW, the answer to both questions is…Strippers

    Like

  53. I know I could benefit from some sort of awareness training that would help me realize just how often I make excuses for myself. There is overlap here with the “stop complaining� exercise, but excuse-making doesn’t always involve negative word choices. “I can’t do X because I have to deal with Y.� That’s not complaining, but it is a small assertion my own powerlessness. Note the problem here is with words expressing not so much negativity as inevitability: “can’t� and “have to�.

    Of course outcome X may in fact be impossible due to reality Y—-best then to realize it and not beat your head against the wall. But how often is this kind of statement really true? Are we really incapable of taking appropriate action or solving a problem—-or are we just taking a pass, assigning blame externally for our own lack of initiative?

    The 4HWW philosophy is that there are no fixed, external constraints preventing you from living the life you want to live. For me at least, part of the process is breaking down the ego-buffering reflex that “explains� inaction and negative outcomes based on circumstances external to myself.

    I like the idea of training for this on the small scale of daily speech and actions. The no-complaint bracelet is good; I want to try using the same device to cut off, or at least question, any “I can’t/couldn’t/didn’t because…� type statements I find myself making. To others or to myself.

    Like

  54. People need to stop being selfish. It’s amazing when you stop and think, how many things you do in a day that are purely for your own pleasure (not that that’s a bad thing all the time, but it’s a good exercise to stop). And of course complaining ensues when things don’t turn out to be pleasureable :)

    I would come up with a scavenger hunt – give each team a paper grocery bag and a list of things to put in it, assign a point value for each. Examples – a matchbook from The Waldorf, some dog hair, a business card from NYPD (may have to be tailored to include places that are in close proximity.) Set a time limit, instruct them to show up with their own points tallyed to save time. I can come up with more items if you (ever) decide to do it…

    Like

  55. Close in my book to complaining is instantaneous nay-saying. When an idea is presented and the off the cuff reaction is to start shaking your head no or even better yet prepare a no inside your mouth so that as soon as they stop talking all you have to do is open your mouth and BAM, they just got shot down.

    This is a problem for two reasons-
    1) If you are handling a large project (Our business just expanded from 1000 square feet to 4000) there is no possible way you can come up with all of the ideas to truly make that project great. This does not mean taking every idea, it just means saying no because you thought through it and decided there was a better option.
    2) If you build a “no” atmosphere in a business you stop the flow of ideas. Creative people do not take “no” well and this is because an idea factory is all about comfort factor. For this simply read the elegant solution.

    http://www.changethis.com/29.01.ElegantSolutions

    As for a party with no money, as long as they are Very Important People just get a college kid for every VIP and have the kids ask the people to talk about themselves. Everybody will feel important and the college kids can rack it up to community service for the rich and famous ; )

    Like

  56. Strong post on complaining. Any negative energy is such a needless drain on our already overcrowded lives.

    As for the party…concentrate on an unusual location that you can get cheap/free…under a bridge, in a beautiful church, in a large florist or greenhouse after hours. Need music? Make a mix tape or better yet find a great street musician who you will pay $50-$100 to but can also pass the hat. I could go on and on.

    Like

  57. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Interrupting other people in order to bring the conversation back to themselves. I am particluarly sensitive to this one, so I look for it all the time and it’s astonishing how often this happens. So often a response to a thought or a story is a separate thought or story, instead of a legitimate reaction. A good way to train yourself to stop interrupting is, when you begin a conversation, practice asking 3 questions of the person you’re speaking to, and focus on listening and responding. Before you realize it, you will find yourself interested in discussing topics other than…you! People will truly value your company (even more than they do already).

    Like

  58. Hey Tim,

    My girlfriend bought an apple computer, and like you I said “intuitive my a$$”. So, what I did was take one of the introductory classes on how to use it at the Apple Store with my girlfriend. It helped quite a bit.

    I found this entry hugely helpful and accurate. Accurate from the standpoint of what words I use reflects my beliefs and therefore my experience of life. This is why all my complaints point back to me and my state of mind. The reason they point back to me is if I am seeking a solution then I am changing my relationship to the situation from one of wallowing in a less than ideal situation to one of moving past it, or understanding it better. That can only start at the thought level.

    I work for a large corporation and we are introducing some big change into the company. Depending on the location we are implementing to, we will see different results. Those locations that take on the change even if they make lots of mistakes seeking helpsolutions along the way are the most successful. They implement faster, have quicker learning curves, and end up liking the change once they become comfortable with it.

    The locations that go through the training, run into the first set of problems, complain, and give up experience the longest most painful implementation. Not only that it drags on and on.

    So, in the end, it doesn’t matter who makes mistakes or how many they make. What matters is they keep trying to find help and seek solutions.

    I tell each location that I will take any complaint they have as long as they are willing to get specific and participate in the solution. It shocks them at 2 levels. One it shocks them that I am willing to listen to negative feedback, and secondly, it shocks them that we are willing to partner with them in customized ways to help them out of the pain.

    It is amazing to watch how people choose their own destiny and experience of life by following or not following what you point to in this article.

    I am all for complaining, honesty (even radical) because it increases intimacy, AND I will always ask for the solution or positive movement. So, my compliant for the radical honesty movement is that it does o.k. in bringing everything to the surface. I would recommend they spend an equal amount of time focusing on communicating what possible solutions or positive actions as you suggest in this article. That is soooo huge in my opinion. Anyone can dump their thoughts and emotions. The truly special people can see past their own temporary viewpoints and experience to something better.

    Awesome article. I want one of those official purple arm bands please.

    Thanks!
    Ben

    Like

  59. To get off subject.
    I wanted to thank you Tim for the way precede your replies with ## 1 it makes it easy to follow up on your responses using the find function. Maybe you’ve explained this before but I just now figured it out.
    I didn’t add a 3rd pound sign in order to not break it for others.
    Keep up the good work!

    Like

  60. Thanks to all for the great comments and suggestions! A few things:

    -Please be patient with comments getting approved! It can take some time, so don’t assume you’ve been censored, as it’s probably just me or my VAs on an airplane. Big things on the horizon…

    -I am going to continue my move to mac. If they had their top-secret solid-state laptops out already, I’d be 100%. These will be tiny and replace my Sony VAIO. Vista is the devil.

    -The wait-list for the bracelets is real, as some have noted! Waiting 6 months is not uncommon, as they don’t charge for them and get snowed under quickly. Hence the billion-dollar value of my four bracelets I’ll be mailing out ;)

    -You guys rock. The comments to this post alone could be used to completely redesign your most damaging behaviors. Cool. I’ll be rereading these later.

    All the best,

    Tim

    Like

  61. People should stop envying.
    Envy leads to gossiping, complaining, unproductive nail biting, smoking, bad health…

    As for VIPs: Organize a charity concert for them at the local orphanage.

    Like

  62. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    It goes hand-in-hand with the negative thinking/complaining — but it is rude, aggressive (and potentially lethal) driving. Commuting here in the Bay Area I get to see all sorts of really bad driving, but the worst is when the driver lets their emotions take over the car! This is one I’m guilty of falling into from time to time, so I understand the challenge. The world would be a better place if we could master this one.

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    Easy — one of the best parties I ever attended was a team-building event where the focus of an entire day was an urban scavenger hunt. Divide the group into teams, give each team a small stipend (for an essential cab ride, snack or whatever). The key is developing a really well-thought-out list of items that intrigues, stimulates and shows the attendees something of the city. In SF or NYC there is no end of fun stuff to work with.

    Budget permitting you end the day with a round of drinks for the entire group.

    Like

  63. I think it would be much more of a life-changing decision if people started thinking for themselves instead of thinking what everyone else thinks.Do what you want to do,and if your friends do not like it, are they really friends? Ask out the cute girl you have had an eye on, if she says no, is there really anything to be embarrased about? will people look down on your for trying? quite the contrary. You want to exercise, but you may feel that you are “too” out of shape or overweight to even start? go for a walk, go to the gym, people will not chastise you for giving an effort.

    Like

  64. Rushing to get places is the behavior I would end. It creates a great deal of unnecessary stress. If more people would leave earlier, plan better, or (shudder) do less, they would be in a frame of mind to actually enjoy the time spent getting from point A to point B. They will also be in a better mood when they arrive. In the case of driving, not rushing would also decrease levels of road rage and accidents.

    If I had no budget to plan a party, I would make it memorable and fun by hiring tons of porn stars to give live shows in which guests have the option of participating. That would be a fun night that no one would ever forget!

    Like

  65. Oh Snap!! I thought it meant an unlimited budget. I was wondering what the point of that question was.

    I’ll keep my sex party answer, but instead of porn stars, I’d find exhibitionistic amateurs on craigslist to do the job.

    Like

  66. As usual, I’ll recommend a book: “PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings” by Rob Brezny. The antidote to complaining is expressing and thinking in positive terms. And making it a habit. And enjoying an delighted, ecstatic frame of mind! Both style and content are beautiful, hilarious, irreverent – great writer! Even his title wins out over “A Complaint-Free World”. He’s positive, not anti-negative!

    I once gave up complaining for Lent, which is the 40 days before Easter (usually people give up coffee or candy or other small indulgences) and it was interesting because I noticed how much less I had to share with people. I got better at making positive conversation, and soon I noticed I didn’t have so much a problem with my own negativity, but with responding to that of others. Some people felt minimized if their venting wasn’t acknowledged, so I had to find ways to acknowledge their SELVES, which is what people really want when they vent. We have very few ways to do this for each other in our culture, which is why we have so many people who are uncomfortable receiving compliments, hence “No problem” instead of “You’re welcome”.

    And, unfortunately, I became less interested in spending time with certain people, and it was sad to part, but not at all difficult. It just wasn’t appealing anymore.

    What I love about Rob Brezny’s book is the insistence on positive language, the creation of florid, vibrant imagery of a stunningly gorgeous, fun, exotic world. The more time I spend in his world, the easier it is that “constructive criticism” becomes interactive brainstorming, “problems and solutions” become stories and sequels. I prefer to think that the person “complaining” is the person is really the person who may best be able to create positive change, if so empowered. Perhaps you’ve heard the psychology technique of asking a complainer, “If you knew how to solve this problem, what would you do”?

    It’s important that this not be reduced to a “technique” for “dealing with whiners”, which leads to the “whiners” feeling dismissed. Better to do this in a spirit of engagement, and a commitment to practicing, for one’s own benefit, a new form of Delightful Dialogue.

    So, the other behavior I think best transformed is choosing one’s environment. There are a lot of posts up there about turning off the TV, and I really agree. I like to choose ANYTHING live, rather than canned, and chances are it will be uplifting. The social currency these days relies a lot upon complaining, and canned entertainment depends upon this to reach its audience. Similarly, choosing to spend time outdoors in beautiful places makes a huge difference in one’s well being.

    As for the VIP event, who are these VIPs? What makes them so “I”? Surely whatever the distinguishing characteristic is should determine the form of the event? Are they VIPs because of their POSITIVE contribution to a particular direction? I suggest you connect with Rob Brezny and put on a Positive Poet Potluck in Golden Gate Park. Celebrate the poets and artists who create more beautiful tools, words, and visions for a positive world.

    Like

  67. People should stop worrying about a problem that hasn’t occured. So many people worry about what “might” happen or what they think might happen that it stops them from taking action and enjoying life. I bet 75% of the things they worry will happen never even do.

    John

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  68. Certain females should stop talking about men/babies/marriage, it drives me mad and it makes me think that their minds are idol and have nothing better to talk about.

    Alternatively you can use the bracelet to train yourself to be more confident, everytime you have a self doubt about yourself such as your appearance you have to start again.

    This method could also be used for people on a diet, everytime you eat junk food you have to start again on the 21 days (a good way to get the addiction out of the system). It could also be used to enforce a positive action, such as 21 days straight of walking to work every day or going for a run.

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  69. People are trained to defray responsibility at an early age. Oh, I’m overweight because of my genetics. Oh, I’m horrible at math because my parents told me I was just never good at it.

    Step 1: Surround yourself with positive people. This is harder than it sounds.
    Step 2: Make a change. Hell, it can be cutting soda out of your diet. Makes something small and it will snowball.
    Step 3: Pick the next thing to attack.

    The best way to get yourself to stop with the pessimism? Find a few things, that no matter WHAT make you smile. Keep those in mind and use them when you’re getting yourself turned around about a top. Kittens playing, puppies tusseling, a child’s smile, the sunset, the sunrise, the ocean waves crashing against the shore…find your triggers and then use them.

    VIP Party with no budget….nice. Champagne and moonlight. Bring your own bottle and glass to share. Shoes not required. ABC license might be $25 out of pocket ;)

    Like

  70. Would this not-complaining thing work for women?

    They seem to derive pleasure out of the process of complaining, of talking about problems, and feel refreshed afterward.

    Like

  71. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    for lack of a better word, laziness. Every time you get a chance to be active but pass it up, move the bracelet to the other wrist. For example, if you take the elevator when you could take the stairs, change the bracelet. If you drive when you could walk, change the bracelet, etc…..

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  72. What a great post. Your post reminded me how we tend to forget how our words affect those around us and should not be treated lightly. I always wondered why people complained. If you are not going to do something about it, what’s the point of venting and carrying negative energy around you? And why not leave the commiserating to things that are really devastating, such as death in the family, heartbreaking divorce, and serious illness?

    As for bad behavior… I’d pick, not saying thank-you. To the waiter who brought you water, to the stranger who opened the door for you, to the co-worker who picked up your printouts. We tend to feel that we are so entitled to all the privileges and don’t appreciate the kindness of others. How about, if you forget to say thank-you, put a quarter in a piggy bank, and at the end, donate the money to charity?

    Like

  73. Bracelet switch trigger:

    Each time I imagine a failed outcome of an idea that pops into my head, SWITCH THE BRACELET.

    Example:

    Creative, Proactive Self: “Hey, Craig, call up VIP Bob and arrange lunch. He very likely needs the services you can provide him.”

    Self-doubting, Nay-sayer Self: “That’s stupid. Bob is busy and he probably already has things well in hand. He likes the other firm more anyway. And that firm is better than you to boot…”

    Some days, I swear I’d be juggling that Bracelet!

    BONUS: Free entertainment for VIP’S: Arrange them in standing circles of 10, all with a stack of their business cards. Each person takes a turn presenting a current challenge they are facing in their company, career, etc… Since the other nine are well networked, resourceful types, they are always going to have a solution or a lead to another person who can directly help. People with an solution write it on the back of their business card and pass to the person with who raised the challenge.

    With even just 30 minutes of this group exercise, there will be thousands of touch points generated in the group you describe.

    Craig

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  74. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could they train themselves to stop?

    Stop living life by the rules and social norms that are in place. Just because everyone puts on their pants one leg at a time, do not take that as the ONLY way to achieve dressing yourself. One should try to come up with a better way, or at least another way of doing common tasks in their daily lives. I strive to invent or simplify one task per day, and come up with a new idea or invention at least once per week. Most ideas do not take place of the standard way of completing the task, and to date I have no inventions on the market. However, playing the numbers game and constantly forcing your mind to look at different perspectives, it is only a matter of time until you revolutionize your own life. If you wear a watch, place it on the opposite wrist that you are acustomed to wearing it on until you have met your quota for the day. If you are against a watch, which I very much am, try wearing something subtle that is uncomfortable to you until the action has been met. I wear my underwear backwards (very uncomfortable) until I have come up with a new way to accomplish something, or a new idea or product. There is always an easier way to do something, and even if it doesn’t replace the best way, it sure is fun trying. Everyone does but their pants on one leg at a time, but not everybody puts them on backwards!

    If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    I would first reserve a booking at a bowling alley or putt putt facility (any place with cheap food and games that guest can afford themselves) give everyone a name tag and offer a $1,000 to whomever leaves last.

    Like

  75. Tim, great book & blog. Always entertaining and thought provoking.

    Things to stop/reduce – multitasking & screen time (computer, tv, ipod, cell phone, gameboy, pda, portable gps, car in dash nav system, portable dvd player and atari!!

    As for a VIP party in SF, I’d recommend bowling at Presidio Bowling followed by beach party (summer has finally arrived in san francisco) at Crissy Fields in Presidio (you can reserve the space near the warming hut for free). great views of GGate, City and bay. Maybe a scavenger hunt around the theme of the event.

    Like

  76. To entertain on the cheap, have people learn a skill. Do the limbo, the tinikling (A Filipino dance where people dance between two sticks), the hula hoop, 3 ball juggling, a simple magic trick, hamboning (an old ghetto trick, slapping thighs and chest in time to music), fire-eating or walking, shadow puppets, chapeaugraphy, etc.

    After a 30 minute learning phase, each person (or a representative of the group) performs as part of the evening show.

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  77. The number one thing to avoid are negative talk/thoughts of all kinds (that aren’t formatted constructively of course). I like the wristband idea. Rubberband would be good too cause you can always snap it on someone else who is spewing negativity in your general vicinity.
    Another big one:
    Avoiding a “mountain” because you are too lazy to take the simple steps to get there. (Adopt better eating and exercise habits = better health and fitness.) Its a one day, one step at a time thing that you have to do consistently.
    Solution: Break down the steps. Decide what you need to do consistently to get where you want to go. Or, maybe your goal is a series of smaller steps which build on each other rather than repeat. Figure them out, and then put them in writing, in order. You could even make a chart, with a stairway on it, and your goal at the top. Or, a big thermometer like they use for fundraisers. Fill in each step as it’s accomplished. This way you can visibly track your progress.

    As for a memorable event on a low budget, I would have to say the best thing you could do was bring together the most memorable people you know, so they can all meet each other. Other than that… think entirely outside the box. Your good at doing that :)

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  78. Put on a big ugly braclet right before bed, and in the morning you cant take it off until you complete _(insert goal here)_. Could be your morning workout, your number one action item of the day, telling someone you appreciate them, etc. The more you dread the task, and the more you hate the bracelet the better. Reward yourself by putting on something you like in its place to remind you that you have accomplished something :)

    Like

  79. Another idea for the VIP party….

    I like the random name tag idea…you could build on that by having everyone reinvent themselves as people who are living the four hour work week lifestyle (if they arent already). Give them a little brainstoming worksheet to figure out where they would travel, what languages they would learn, what they would do on their mini retirements. Let them take their dreams for a test drive… see how they fit.

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  80. Another application for the “bracelet conditioning”:

    Change wrist every time you imagine a new dream/ambition and reject it before :

    1- checking how desirable it really is and how it fits your big picture
    2- defining a first action towards it if 1- is passed.

    Goal: removing the “I can’t” mindset.

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  81. Intuitive to most people means “what I am already used to”.

    People who are used to Windows discover at first that the mac is definitely not windows. Which may seem obvious but can be very frustrating. It takes time to unlearn the expectations and to embrace the differences.

    In time you will grow in to it, you’ll suddenly notice how weird windows is at times. By learning more then one way to do things you’ll gain a more general understanding of how computers work. Which is a good thing because then you’ll learn new interfaces a lot faster.

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  82. Great post!

    Judging others is one of those activities we indulge in frequently, even if it just has to do with their looks or their buying power, but also with their intellect, their dexterity in thinking, their lack of innovation in thought, their beliefs, their manner of speech, and on and on ad nauseam.

    How to implement it? Start by becoming aware of the fact that you’re actually doing it. Next step is to stop it in its tracks as you catch yourself doing it by thinking another great thought that has to do with quantum physics and spiritual thought: we are all intertwined molecules, i.e., we are all one.

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  83. People need to stop deferring their dreams…

    We all have those dreams where we think “When I am ___ I will do this or try this.” If we take small steps everyday towards our dreams it keeps us happier..

    How: Weekly or daily planning sessions where we make sure that the things we do are aligned with our dreams. I like the calendar marking strategy, where you mark each day that you worked towards your dream, until you build a long chain on your calendar.

    100 VIPs in NYC: I would take them on the Subway and hit up all the local cultural hot spots, I doubt they have ever done that :)

    Like

  84. People in Japan should stop sucking their teeth every time I ask them a question.

    By the way, all us commenters are just complaining aren’t we?! People should stop this and stop that. Maybe we should stop commenting. Didn’t you have to do a bit too much negative thinking to come up with a good answer? I did. :(

    I didn’t really mean what I said about the people in Japan by the way. They can suck their teeth all day long.

    From now on, every time I post a complaining comment on a blog, I’ll slap my wrist.

    Ouch!

    Like

  85. I really LOL on your mac experience.

    I have always said, that Macs are so damn simple that its difficult to use.

    I am beginning to suspect that easy to use is now a myth. Or perhaps people forgot that Windows OS has gotten a lot better?

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  86. Don’t focus on eliminating complaints.

    Instead, try to figure out what’s causing them.

    A complaint is nothing more than verbalizing (mentally, or out loud) some kind of frustration or disappointment with a situation, and is the result of a gap between anticipated reality (a hoped-for expectation) and reality.

    This experienced frustration is an internalized tension that attempted to resolve itself via complaining (“Tension seeks resolution” – see The Path of Least Resistance by Robert Fritz).

    Most complaining seems to involve things that other people did or didn’t do. Since we usually can’t control what others do, we’re frustrated when they don’t do what we want:

    “I went into the post office and had to stand behind this rude guy for 30 minutes. It was a waste of time. From now on, I’ll go in the mornings before 10am to avoid the crowd.â€?

    You were not expecting him to be in the post office, and you were frustrated that your time was “wasted.” But, the fact is, even if you went there at 10am and he was the only other person in the place, you’d still be complaining because you wouldn’t have expected him (in fact, you’d probably be complaining even more).

    Although it’s a good start, we can do better than simply going 21 days without complaining. Instead of focusing on eliminating complaining, it may be better to ask ourselves what’s *really* causing us to feel frustrated, angry, disappointed. That’s where real progress and self-improvement will be made…

    “Hmmm… why am I so pissed about being late to mail letter right now?”

    or…

    “Why did I just call John a muppet? What’s that all about?”

    This introspection should eventually lead to more realistic expectations of others and life events, resulting in less internal tension, disappointment and frustration.

    Change what you can, and let go of what you can’t – and you’ll never complain again.

    No bracelet necessary. ; )

    ————————————————-

    Q: What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop?

    Blaming others

    Q: How could train themselves to stop?

    Blaming makes us feel better, and absolves us from having to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. Any time you catch yourself blaming someone else for your misery, stop and ask, “Why am I really blaming x?” (I have my theory on this one, but I’ve already babbled enough here…)

    Q: Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    Anything that kids love – think: Squirt guns, water balloons, shaving cream, whoopie cushions, finger painting, laser tag, sword fighting (a buck-a-piece for the soft, bendy ones at the dollar store), etc. Anything that lets grown-ups blow off steam while not having to feel like a grown-up.

    We’re all kids at heart. It’s just that most of us have forgotten it…

    ————————————————-

    BTW: I’m also in the process of switching to a Mac after 13 years on a PC. You may want to try running WinXP using Parallels software to make the transition a bit easier.

    BTW2: Enjoyed the book, Tim. Good luck on your trip.

    My best,
    -joe chapuis

    Like

  87. I woke and thought, pear tree. It could have been, “f’ing sleepless,” or “is the spider crawling towards my eyeball a good spider or a baddy?” But having been on a thought mission for the last six months or so, I have simply outgrown my whining self. Easy to do as I believe whining gives you a double chin, and who has a crush on a whiner? Having the tree on the brain, I rolled into my boots and out the door. With the tree in shadow and fruit still covered in a not yet frost dew, I reached out a thumbnail to test that lovely beauty within range, but the motion of reaching shot my feet out from under me and I skidded down the mud hill on my knees all the way to the bottom, under the fence, where I landed on a cow bone, and its huge teeth. I jumped away, then went back, enchanted – the teeth were so long and still had stuff in them. So I picked it up and stuck it in my belt, feeling very much like a princess warrior, grabbed my pear and wandered into the house, trying to think who I could scare with my new bone. What I think is that for every squid of attention we donate to the What Sure Don’t Work Thinktank, we are short a squid of thought to donate to the how do I play deeply with the world I love? How can I make space for more transformative experiences? And while I believe that sarcasm, critsicm, gossip and the like do bring a certain pleasure to the players involved – it’s a more tattered, less vibrant shared joy than I think we’re capable of. And a party? Use the space to collaboratively expand our ideas about play (if story in book about sin-city fellas blowing cash to feel alive is at the opposite end of the continuum, what’s at the other end?) I would invite a hand ful of play ful MoFo’s to create some kind of endeavor. Challenge is intoxicating. I’d find a play forum to issue challenges to each other. Kind of like the questions posed here, n’est pas? Only full bodied answers.

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  88. I spent more time thinking about the bonus question because I found it so exciting, a great challenge. There are some variables that would need to be worked out though like where the VIP are from. Are they local NYC or SF-ers? Are they from over seas? Why are they meeting all together that is common between all of them? Is it just that they happen to know a guy named Tim? If they really are VIP’s they might be getting tired of the same over decorated lobster adn steak dinners that they’re invited to eevry weekend.

    I think a good idea would be to hold the party someplace that’s unusual and inexpensive. I went to a party once at the Vancouver Aquarium. They rented a section of the aquarium that was seperate so by closing teh doors it created a provate function where we could party while surrounded by exotic fish.

    Here in Calgary there’s a botanical garden located on the top floor of a downtown mall. It’s absolutely gorgeous and for a very reasonable price you could rent the place leaving a Garden of Eden to party in. I’m sure the Tim Ferris entourage includes some guy that can DJ. If you don’t know anyone I could loan you a couple of my friends that DJ. I’m a big fan or bartering so if you don’t know someone that has the talents that you need just find out what you could offer them that would entice them to do it on trade.

    Now on to food. My limited experience tells me that ingenuity and creativity are more important than a caterer. It’s easy to conjure up a menu complete with caviar and champagne but when you use simple foods it’s memorable and fun and that creates something for people to talk about which is the whole point of a VIP party after all, right?

    I love parties so thanks for the time down that thought trail.

    There’s one behavior I have a very hard time being around and that’s noisy eating. It makes my skin crawl in a bad way.

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  89. First Question: Smile :) simply smile at people, the reminder is 20 singles you put in one pocket, and every time you get someone to smile you place a dollar in the other pocket. Remove the all the money from the smile pocket and start over when you pass on a bad day to someone through a negative comment or mean glance. The day’s total should be placed in a travel or funny money account that rewards your spreading of smiles. It’s a good way to save on a reward basis.

    I think this will create more positivity in one’s day, and will give random people the chance to have a good day.

    bonus: The event would be a volunteer day. No money, just man/woman power to get a project done. The VIP’s will be signed up in advance to pick their activity. It would take place at a park, and would involve playing sports and crafts with a local childrens club. The press will draw the VIP’s and the kids will benefit from the helping hands. The boys/girls club would have all the equipment or the VIP’s could bring some. The kids will put on a performance at the end for their graditude. Donations will taken for food, drink, and everything else.

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  90. People should stop asking questions that make us focus on things we don’t like. Instead of asking us to define traits we don’t like in other people, wich is pretty much the definition of complaining, lets have a dialog about what we love in humanity. I think people should focus more on children.

    An unforgettable party? Have everyone bring their used Christmas trees to central park for a big bon fire.

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  91. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could they train themselves to stop?

    I believe we should endeavor to stop using little white lies such as “I’m only five minutes away” or “I tried to call you: I don’t know why you didn’t get the message.” These small inaccuracies may seem to be useful in smoothing over a situation, but really they just drive a little wedge between people. What it comes down to is this: WE know we lied. THEY may SUSPECT we lied. Heck, they might KNOW we lied! Any of these perceptions can easily lead to a nebulous sense of mistrust among one another. Also, it’s just a time-waster and energy waster to keep track of little white lies. It’s as exhausting as living two lives simultaneously!

    When we screw up in a minor way, such as being late or forgetting to return a phone call, a sincere and succinct apology for our thoughtlessness will go a long way to not only developing and maintaining good relationships but keeping our brains available for more important things.

    So—how can a person reduce the number of little white lies? Do what my husband and I did: Admit them a soon as they pass your lips, apologize, and then PAY for them. We settled on $100 per white lie, because it was an amount of money that we would be loath to lose over something so trivial, yet it was still feasible to carry such a sum at all times, ready to surrender. We paid the cash to the person we had disrespected with our white lie. It worked. We spent some cash, but gained alot of ‘brain-space’ and a real sense of personal responsibility.

    BONUS: 100 VIPS/San Francisco/$1,000
    Go for a new-vaudeville/20s’30’s Hollywood theme: Try booking the Bilgewater Brothers or Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. (Try to barter these.) Invite classic car buffs to show off their 1920’s and 30’s Packards and Rolls Royces. (Remember to ask Jay Leno) Throw in a few smartly clad ‘cigarette girls’ with trays of sweets (Cracker Jack currently has a ‘retro’ label and other retro sweets are available in online stores). Play a soundtrack of 20’s and 30’s music. Teach everyone to Charleston! (And be sure to invite me along for the ride. I’m a hell of a hostess.)

    Like

  92. During brainstorming sessions or any time, really, people should stop prefacing ideas with self-conscious, self-depricating language. For example, “I’m probably wrong, but . . .” or “I don’t know if anyone agrees with me, but I think . . .” These words alienate the listener, create doubt in the speaker, and discredit what could be a new or innovative idea.

    Better language would be, “Here’s an idea . . .” or as simple as, “I think . . .”

    How to change it? For every idea you preface with a self-conscious statement, you must come up with and confidently introduce two more ideas.

    Like

  93. What other behavior, besides complaining, do you think people should stop? How could train themselves to stop?

    Saying “sorry” for everything from swearing in front of Grandma to creating a brief cha-cha traffic jam at the elevator entrance. Or in the case of low self-esteem, “I’m sorry but this steak is well-done and I ordered it rare…” and “I’m sorry but I need to ask you some questions about this job brief you didn’t completely fill out.”

    1) Get some sorry-pals. Key people who can alert you to your sorry slips by pointing it out with a hand gesture or code word.

    2) Attempt to build self-worth by simple affirmations when you hear yourself do it or a sorry-pal points it out. For example, “I am worthy.”

    Bonus: If you were holding a party for 100 VIPs in SF or NYC and had no budget (or no more than $1,000, whichever you prefer), what would you do to make the event memorable and fun?

    Two words: Photo Booth.
    (quick google search did show options below $1,000)

    Like

  94. What behavior to stop?

    Our behaviors determine what it is we habituate to. Habituation over time, across the various aspects of our behavior leads to the umbrella term of comfort zone. Just observe your behavior from day to day: When you drive to a familiar place (work, mall, school etc.) do you usually park in one particular area? Do you always take the same route to get to your destination? Do you always have the same interaction with shopping clerks, servers, service people or whoever? When extended to the social realm I’ve found you tend to involve yourself in the same types of interactions and anything novel seems uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s out of your comfort zone.

    So how do you consciously get out of your comfort zone? Usually I talk myself into pushing through that comfort zone barrier. Say you wish to talk to an attractive lady, or do something like Tim suggests in the book such as laying down in a public place. These are the questions I ask myself: What’s the worst that can happen? (I take that and half it cause we always inflate our worst case scenarios); Is the result worth the effort (Sure you might get rejected by that lady but the accomplishment of just talking outweighs the potential regret at missed opportunities). With the answers to these questions it’s a lot more realistic to get over that barrier. To finalize I just stop myself from over rationalization by counting down from 3 to 1 and then going for it. The best way to learn to swim is to jump into the deep end!

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