I'm a regular Facebook player. I know that there are days when my friends who still have me appear on their timelines probably go, "oh great, maybe today is the day I 'unfriend' her" (because I can do what is referred to as overposting.) There are actually days when I do NOT post on Facebook. I think a little occasional retreat or "fast" is not a bad thing where 'the technology' is concerned. We do need to stay connected with the 'real' face-time (and not the IPhone variety) world. We need to get out into our garden, talk to real neighbours over the fence, bathe the dog, phone an ailing auntie, go to church, read a book, take a long walk and/or volunteer somewhere that has no internet signal. Old-school 'connecting'.
Recently I was 'nominated' to be part of a 7-day Gratitude Challenge. The friend who invited me probably knew that I was 'up to it'. Basically, it is an online shortened version of the Gratitude journals that I've discussed on here, and that many people have tried at least once in their attempts to get their sh** together, overcome depression, or just put more zip into their lives. I enjoyed doing the Facebook version a lot and thought that there are likely people out there who might also enjoy it, but who might be a little anxious about what it might entail. The following is meant to help 'decide' you and give you a few tips to take down that anxiety and allow for a pleasant, uplifting experience that has the potential of giving you more personal insights and bonding you with your FB buddies, new and old.
The Invitation or "Nomination"
One evening, a week ago, my computer did that sometimes-irritating little bing noise that signals that someone has just 'tagged' me in a post. I toggled over to Facebook from whatever else I had been engaged in, and clicked on the message from my friend Lorne. It read:
Posting 3 positive things for 7 days and nominating 2 people each day to do the same.
1. My friend Joe Blow honoured me by nominating me for this awesome responsibility/challenge.
2. Last Fall an optometrist told me I had the beginning stages of macular degeneration. I wanted a second opinion and visited an ophthalmologist yesterday. He saw no signs of the condition
.3. It started raining this afternoon. In the five years I've been living in the C... V..., this is the first time I can remember it raining in the summer. Apparently, last winter we had the least precipitation on record. The snow was melted by mid-June and inflow into C... Lake is at a record low. We are moving to Stage 2 water restriction on Friday. Bring on the rain Today I am nominating Anne Smith and Cynthia
Well, as soon as I saw my name in the way that signified that I'd been tagged (a 'live' link to FB-me that was responsible for the 'bing' alert) I had one of those minor anxiety attacks that immediately brought with it a pile of questions:
(1) wow, will I have the courage to actually post something so "personal" on Facebook?
(2) will I appear too religious to my not-so-religious/atheist FB friends and not-spiritually-connected-enough to my Church buddies?
(3) will I suddenly seem like an entire stranger to people who have known me for 40 years in an attempt to seem friendly and cool to people who only know my facebook persona?
(4) will anybody else what to take a chance on this gratitude challenge or will I do my little thing everyday and have no one else willing to participate?
(5) will there be enough things to be grateful for everyday or will I be repeating myself over and over, good food, grateful for a roof over my head, my family, my dog...??
(6) will I do my usual verbose overposting and annoy even my most forbearing of long-time friends (i.e., the ones who saw me throw up in a drunken episode back in my post-adolescent college days)?
(7) and on and on and on (think of all your own most juvenile, infantile, insecure, neurotic and negative-obsessive thoughts)
Which is a good place to start... it really indicated just how much I needed to revisit the Gratitude Journal concept! It was time to pull my head out of my...um... self-absorption and take a good look at my blessings. It was also a great opportunity to invite diverse others to share that experience. Where else but Facebook would you have the choice of inviting the mix of your childhood friend, a cousin, someone you met in an online knitting group, a fellow-church member, your chiropractor, a motivational speaker you would never have the courage to ask in person but for some strange reason seem okay with asking publicly on Facebook, college buddies, your son's friend, your friend daughter, etc. etc. ??
It's exciting, like a first day at college or a jump off a pier into water of unknown depth and composition. But, it's really just another Facebook thang, when all is said and done. Reasonably tame, because you decide just what you will disclose and who you will invite.
How Techy Do I Have To Be?
I think there are at least 2 things you can learn (if you don't already know them) that will definitely be assets to the Gratitude challenge:
(1)Cut, Copy and Paste: If you don't know how to do this yet, here is a sterling chance to learn. You will want to do this so that you can replicate the first few lines of the Challenge each of the 7 days for the new friends (and new readers), that is: Posting 3 positive things for 7 days and nominating 2 people each day to do the same.
Day 1 (etc.) and maybe the last line that reads:Today I am nominating Anne Smith and Cynthia
(2) Tagging: The act of making the invitee (or nominee) name live-linked to the person you are inviting. If you have Anne Smith as a Facebook friend (necessary for this process), when you begin to type Anne Smith's name you will notice that under her name her Facebook 'handle' or 'tag' pops up (the thumbnail of her profile picture and whatever name she uses on Facebook to identify herself). If you click on this 'tag' it will replace the portion of the name that you are typing with her full 'handle' and that will be a 'live/dynamic link' (and which will alert her to the fact that you are connecting with her, either as a 'bing' and a link in the top right messaging area or just as a message). When she clicks on the message menu she will go directly to your message where you have 'tagged' her as a nominee. At this point, live links/tags are in blue. If the name is in back like all the other words in your post, it is NOT live. If it is not a live link she will not be aware that you are inviting her without reading everything in your timeline... and you know how likely that is to happen if she has 500 Facebook friends (or even 5).
How wordy or fancy do I have to be?
No real rules here, my friend. Ultimately, this is for your benefit (or so you can tell yourself to knock back the people-pleaser guilty tapes). Most people do one or two lines of positives statements for each of the 3. Some run them all together, or do three individually over the course of the day. Those of us who enjoy blah-blah-blah might do a paragraph for each of the 3 positives-- not sure why, but you can speculate. The point is to focus on revealing 3 positives that are personally pleasing to you. They can be from the day at hand, or from your life experience in general. They can be something like "I love rainbows and saw an awesome one this afternoon after the rain" or "I am so grateful for warm socks on a cold day." One friend just listed hers as: "I appreciated the warm sunny day, work was uneventful, and I had a nice, peaceful evening at home". You make the rules.
Nominations or Invitations:
You will probably want to invite people who are likely going to participate enthusiastically, but, really, don't worry about it. Invite who you want to invite, or even who you see is still up at 3a.m., maybe needing some extra mental/emotional stimulation. (haha) No one is policing for people who don't follow through, so don't concern yourself with that. No browning points here (from who? Facebook? hahahahha). If your Facebook friends are all unwilling, unavailable or unfriending you, don't sweat it. Your job is basically to do your 3 positives and graciously invite 2 chosen luckies each day for 7 days. That's it.
Other Little Niceties You Can Do and That Others Will Do For You:
Basic Facebook etiquette includes a certain amount of 'friendly' engagement. If you are invited, and you are pleased, you can use that pleasure as your first 'positive' on Day 1 couched such as: (1)I am honoured to have been invited to be part of this gratitude challenge by my friend Joe Blow .
When you tag "Joe Blow" he will frequently 'like' your acknowlegement (sort of noblesse oblige) and may (often) also comment on your positives. This is, of course, gratifying and encouraging. You will likely be likewise interested in encouraging your invitees as they spell out their daily positives. Very win-win.
It is quite likely that you will experience a new closeness to the people who participate with you in this daily 'challenge'. You will probably learn something positive about them, and maybe even about yourself. So have fun! You don't really have to wait for someone to invite you if you want to do this-- go ahead!
With gratitude, I base this blog on the book "Learn to be an Optimist: A Practical Guide to Achieving Happiness" by Lucy MacDonald, a Quebec-based motivational speaker with an academic background in psychology and counseling.