As some of you know, I’m a TA for the current group of CiPP students (Certificate in Positive Psychology), and we’re taking turns writing about our own 30-Day Challenges to share with our students.
What is a 30-Day Challenge? Maria Sirois, the CiPP Program Director and one of my mentors, describes it like this on our class site: “Change is hard. Willpower wanes. We can all use a little help. Join me, as you wish, in the application of what we know helps solidify positive transformation and sustain it for the long haul: the development of new habits. By mindfully considering the change we are ready to make, choosing one or two new practices/tools, and then incorporating them into our day as habits (even 5% a day) we create the best environment for transformation. Each day I will post on my progress for the day, and my pitfalls and shortcomings, in order that we come to know how to best stay on track for ourselves and for the benefit of the larger group. You are welcome to join me actively, post as you wish, or simply check in now and then to see how it’s going. And do consider joining the challenge at any time with an accountability partner!”
As the saying goes, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone… only I’ve never liked that saying. My friend Helen Ann said it much better when she said, “Let’s feed two birds with one seed.” So that’s what I’m doing! I’m going to post on our private site for the class and I’m going to post here as well. Partly to up the ante in making me accountable, partly to make the visual part of this challenge visible to our students, and partly to share with those of you who read my postings but may not be enrolled in the course!
I thought long and hard about what I wanted this 30-day challenge to be (of COURSE I did… it’s what I do!), and over the weekend I thought about what Ellen Langer said on Mindfulness… that put simply, it’s noticing new things (that link I provided is a 5-minute video of her talking about mindfulness as she studies it). And since it’s October, and I love all the changes that happen in October in New England, I decided that I would make this a 30-day visual challenge.
So my challenge is to take and post 30 photos in 30 days of mindfulness in action. Ellen Langer, in the link I provided above, shares that noticing five new things is what mindfulness is. She says that in each case of noticing, you’ll become more excited, happier, and you’ll find it easier to pay attention to whatever it is that you’re noticing, as long as you don’t think that you know it completely. She also says that mindfulness as she studies it, from a Western scientific point of view, is basically immediate, rather than meditating in order to achieve mindfulness, which is what meditative practices strive for achieving.
My noticing will start with the visual, and may also include sounds, smells, feelings, and other noticings that cannot be seen. In other words, the initial thing I notice – why I took the photo in the first place – will be visual, but the rest of what I notice may not be.
Day 1: I’m sitting out on our screen porch with long johns, my Icelandic sweater, wrapped in a blanket getting some work done. And I love my view from my “office”. The leaves are definitely changing… lots of yellows and reds out there, and even a few on the ground and covering the slide. It’s not going to be that many more days that I can sit out here before it’s too cold, so I’m taking advantage of it while I can. There’s a soft rain pitter-pattering on the roof, and every once in a while I hear a louder THWACK! of an acorn hitting the roof or the deck. I’ve watched several leaves fall since I’ve been noticing new things about this scene. I’m grateful to have shelter from the rain and appreciate the beauty in our backyard.