The 30-Day Negativity Cleanse

A decade ago, a friend offered a toast and had these words for me: “Greg, you’re an asshole, but somehow it works for you.”

The observation brought a good laugh and it wasn’t the first or last time I have heard something similar. But, for some reason, his words that day stuck and a week hasn’t passed when I haven’t thought of them.

Throughout the years, I’ve worn his statement as a badge of honor. At other times, it is the proof of a deep-seated personality flaw that manifests itself in shameful behavior.

I’ve grown to accept that cynicism, negativity and generally being “an asshole” is a fundamental part of my DNA. If I’m looking at the bright side (which is the intention of this experiment), it makes me a funny person (to some) and a shrewd business person. At the same time, it has alienated me from many, led to countless pointless arguments with family, friends and complete strangers and created a level of internal anxiety that at times is unmanageable, unhealthy and distracting.

Flash forward a decade and I’m approaching my daughter Wren’s first birthday.

Since her birth, I’ve tried casually to be a more positive person and brush off the cycle of annoyances that fester into negativity and pervade my life. I’ve tried instead to focus more on my abundant blessings of which she is #1.

But then the Gawker comments. But then Donald Trump. But then work aggravations. But then bills. And so on.

Like any addiction, one taste or moment of weakness destroys days of hard work and dedication. I spiral down into accepting my casual judgement, argument or internet comment as being OK, even healthy. “I can make this one really good point and then I’ll just back away,” I think to myself.

But then, it is only a few short days before I’m tense all over and seeking out opportunities to inject my opinion, anger and “logic” (more on the last one in another post) into the world.

So, I’ve decided to try and stop the cycle now. I’m following the lead of some of the most popular dietary cleanses and striking out on a 30-day cleanse to, hopefully, alter my personality to be less cynical, angry and offensive. I’ll be following many of the same rules as those who have dropped gluten or processed foods (more in post #2) and, more importantly, talking to people about my experience which I will share throughout.

The challenges ahead are a bit of a mystery. Unlike a dietary cleanse, thinking about a donut doesn’t ruin the cleanse. In fact, thinking about it and not partaking is a success. For me, so much of what I want to withhold from myself are thoughts that can be just as poisonous as actions.

Additionally, I want to balance that improvement without losing my identity. I like being funny. I like being opinionated. I don’t want to be Ned Flanders. The question of how I will temper these qualities without breaking the cleanse is completely unknown.

One thing is clear: this is as much a #100DaysofHappy as the Whole30 is a celebration of carrots.

I have no problem being happy. Happiness is just one emotion that is easily obtainable every time I look at my daughter, take my wife out to dinner or have a long conversation with my business partner and friend.

This is a cleanse that will, hopefully, have the same result as the Whole30 and allow me to reset an aspect of my life that is out of control.

For me, the stakes are high. It’s hard to believe that my adorable little girl could ever be the recipient of my ire, but it is likely inevitable going at the rate I am. I refuse to be a father who my daughter sees as an earned enemy (vs. unearned which is inevitable) or, even worse, a role model for aggressive and negative behavior.

Lots more to come including the rules I’m setting for myself in my next post before the official launch on Feb. 1.

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