On September 17th, 2013 I began a social experiment and accountability partnership with friends, students and fellow Facebook users whom I have never met in the real world. This project was the result of my hearing (not for the first time) how invaluable the practice of being grateful is for our health and well-being.
On an average week, I am able to teach about 150 people and provide them with a yogic forum to build upon the idea of realizing their greatest Self without causing others to suffer in the process. But on that late summer evening, after enduring a characteristically "LA" drive home, I felt compelled to do more! In an effort to reduce the epidemic of assholism, I utilized one of the greatest and most taken-for-granted resources we modern humans have - the internet.
Today marks the 51st and final day of this project, which began as a public Facebook event. The idea was simple: contemporary science and esoteric wisdom traditions know that gratitude fosters longevity, health and aids in repairing and preventing illness, so why not get people to practice this together, and use Facebook's transparent social media platform as free exposure.
One experiment somewhere else...
Psychology Today Magazine says..
Ancient Eastern Medicine knows...
The outcome: Of those who managed to follow through with the practice and post one thing they were grateful for each day, their reports were on par with what was expected - higher rates of gratitude for small and otherwise mundane aspects of daily life, mood shifts tending toward happiness and acceptance, and an awareness of other people's gratitude attitudes who were not in any way associated with the Facebook event. The voyeurs, and those who posted infrequently, reportedly had an expanded awareness of spontaneous moments of gratitude, as well.
While the scope of this experiment is clearly slight and mostly insignificant, it's results remain aligned with the greater tenant - taking a pause everyday to note what is awesome in your life makes the experience of life more valuable, more fulfilling,and is best when shared with others.
As we approach the end of the year, with its holiday traditions of kindness and community, let this locally sourced, social experiment arm you with at least one tool to beat the corollary rise in social assholism that is upon us! Practicing an attitude of gratitude is a free, self-serving, wide-spreading phenomenon that can shift you into a place of greater peace and wellness. On days when your inner-brat is at the helm, check out the Facebook archive of our event to see what others found worth celebrating in the ordinary day-to-day of being human, for some inspiration!