by Scott Simon
What I am listening to on today’s cleanse: Pearl Jam channeling Lennon Live At Madison Square with Gimme Some Truth – My Morning Jacket channeling The Band with It Makes No Difference – The Chieftains and Mick Jagger channeling Johnny Cash with The Long Black Veil – Flaming Lips and Miley Cyrus channeling the Beatles with LSD – and last but not least Steve Carrell channeling Marvin Gaye with Sexual Healing
ACT I – RISKY BUSINESS
Have you read the New York Times Modern Love piece on psychologist Arthur Aron’s 36 questions?
If you haven’t, a la Nike: JUST DO IT my friends.
Basically, Aron developed a list of questions to be asked and answered by two people – followed by staring into each others eyes for (an interminably long) 4 minutes. If done with clear eyes, and a full heart, you can’t lose. You both will fall madly in love.
I found that whole concept nothing but intriguing.
So, being a hearty, adventurous soul, I tried it one night with a friend. It felt excitingly risky. We only snacked on a few questions, but the appetizer showed how bonding being vulnerable and open can be.
This Aron guy’s got skillz.
So, not ones to leave anything awesome alone, our Thrive Creative Team decided it was time to take this to the masses, and really help people become happier.
We found the perfect opportunity.
My friend Elana runs a great single’s matchmaking organization, and was holding a singles event at a totally old-school bowling alley with 200-300 singles. Perfect. There were two comedians were performing, two bands playing. And then there was US. Trying to get people to authentically connect in a setting – let’s be honest – not known for authenticity.
We handed out hundreds of individual Aron questions on strips of paper that we had baked into fortune cookies. The singles opened their cookie, and were instructed to find 2 other people they did not know, and ask them the question inside. The result? Talking, laughing, meeting, connecting.
What’s the big deal, you ask?
People took a RISK.
A risk to be vulnerable, or even look silly. A risk to take the mask off, and be themselves with someone new.
My teacher, Harvard professor Tal Ben Shahar, teaches that we all have a core of authenticity. But we also have limitations. So when we enter adulthood, we often cover over those limitations with a layer – a mask – to hide our limitations to others (even though they have their own).
Then, YEARS LATER, we find ourselves living with the mask still on. In fact, we are so used to it, we don’t even know it is there.
But it isn’t our core, true self.
So, when we finally take the risk to connect with others in a deep, vulnerable, authentic way, that mask gets shattered.
We feel the relief – like a cool wind on a summer day – of just being ourselves.
Taking risks. Being authentic. Putting ourselves out there. Not easy.
But living our true self is the reward.
ACT II – MY PEEPS
We delved into the history and science of positive psychology, and then had the participants literally experience several key drivers of happiness.
They explored – as a group – the experiences of gratitude, of physical movement / dance, of mindfulness. We even set them into the streets of Cleveland Heights to fulfill Random Acts of Kindness.
As the session was concluding, I looked around and thought to myself: I really LIKE these people.
I like teaching them, learning from them, being around them.
And this group was diverse – in gender, age, color, geography, background, personality-type. Slice it anyway you want – I liked them all.
Then it hit me.
I do have a group that I gravitate towards more than another.
I like people who are curious.
Being curious is such an underrated virtue. It probably doesn’t even crack most people’s top-10-virtue list.
But, truth be told, I love people who ask more questions than have answers. I love people who travel the world in search of the greatest taco. I love people who will go out of their way to walk into a local bookstore. They are curious about life.
They romance the universe.
To me, it doesn’t matter where they are on the political spectrum, or how much money they make (or have been given), and where they grew up.
They are a comrade of mine if life makes them curious.
What are YOU curious about?
And where was the best taco you ever had?
ACT III – DAYS 4, 5, 6
Oh yeah. This is happening. I own this cleanse.
Truth be told, it isn’t easy, but I have been faithful to Jenna’s cleanse 100%. No eggs, dairy, meat, gluten … well you get the idea.
And, I always walk my talk. So when asking others to take RISKS, I took one of my own.
And a brewery called The Butcher and Brewer.
Yep. A guy on a cleanse – who loves meat and beer as much as his children – spends a morning with his friend Em in a meat-centric brewery.
They gave out beer samples. I had water. Oh yeah, I own this.
My eating has been great, using many of the whole foods in the cleanse “go-to” list.
Toughest times have been evenings, but I have gotten by on eating mixed nuts and dried cherries like they are cereal, with almond milk. Juicing has been great (different combos every morning).
And my evening drink is hot almond milk, with honey and raw almonds, run through a blender until frothy and delicious.
I did spy a bar of dark chocolate in the pantry, and had serious heart palpitations. But I remained true.
Some of my go-to dishes over the past 3 days: