Day 1971 – Day 1978
I’ve been v-logging on YouTube for less than a fortnight and it’s exhausting. Unless you are already a filmmaker with a great eye for set design, an ear for sound and an eye for lighting, unless you have natural flamboyance and great skills in public speaking and unless you studied marketing in college, there is bound to be a very steep learning curve, indeed.
Let’s face it, friends. YouTube is saturated with gratitude videos. Thinking of trying to position the channel to stand out in that crowd is giving me a headache. If I had started this journey in order to write a book or become YouTube famous, I would have chosen a much less saturated niche. But, I didn’t start this to be famous, to prove anything to anyone, or even to spread the word about gratitude. I started this to bring positivity into what felt like a broken life.
I was burned out from a job where facilitating redundancies and outsourcing suddenly became an unexpected and key part of my job description. When I finally left that job, the emotional toll and the physical toll of the stress and unsustainable workloads meant that if someone coughed in the next room, I would get pneumonia. Throughout the final months at the job, I tried to maintain my humanity and to give support to the hundreds of lives that were being radically changed, even though my job was to help with the plan to put them out of work.
I know that air traffic controllers have the most stressful jobs in the world, but I think teams that are tasked with managing people out of their jobs must be pretty high up there. I hated what I did, but I did my job as well as I could and while I didn’t much like myself for being a part of it, I had, at my own initiative, been covertly spreading hope and kindness with a career lunch and learn series, using principles that I had learned in my own privately funded coaching sessions. Nonetheless, the whole thing had taken a toll on me. I left my job, not certain what was next.
My friend sent out a 7-day challenge for a version of the 3-things gratitude journal on Facebook. It sounded positive and I was holding on to anything that would lift me out of the tar pit into which I had fallen. And that’s how I began writing publicly on gratitude. It is a rather ignoble and mediocre start, and I’m not sure it makes me a poster-person for gratitude, but I can certainly speak to the healing power of this simple practice. My gratitude for the life changing power of the practice was what drove me to continue to write about it and to make a long-term commitment to documenting my journey.
While there is the writer’s ego involved in wanting to write about it, I do feel that there is value, for others, in documenting this journey. If it falls flat, okay. But, I feel compelled to at least give it my best effort. I’m not an athlete who is breaking records for outstanding physical prowess. I’m not even doing something that takes outstanding spiritual strength. My ancestors were martyred by the Cossacks for standing up for their beliefs. That takes spiritual strength. I’m just doing something that takes a little effort, done consistently, over a long period.
How do I position TTDOG to be distinctive? What is TTDOG’s unique selling point? These questions have plagued me all my life. Give me a product or another person and I’d probably be able to answer that question but when it comes to oneself, or something closely associated with oneself, it’s much tougher to answer. All I know, for sure, is that I would love TTDOG to inspire others to take up and be faithful to this practice, because I know that it leads to improved wellbeing. On the way to doing this, I draw a hard line at authenticity. If, to be YouTube famous or break the blogosphere, I compromise on my authenticity, then documenting my journey of Ten Thousand Days seems pointless. I’m not selling authenticity, but, if promoting these practices creates choices that compromise my authenticity, I’m not doing it.
The idea of “fame” has never sat comfortably with me, and I recognize that being so closely associated with TTDOG, this may be a concept that needs challenging, lest it unconsciously put the brakes on any efforts, before they have a chance to start. I value my privacy and already, I’ve stretched beyond my comfort zone. Vlogging threatens to make me snap, under the strain of stretching. Rather than turn my camera towards my home, which is my sanctuary, I turn the camera to the wall, with a minimal bit of decoration. This leaves the burden on me to be visually appealing and captivate with my storytelling. No pressure there, then.
Right now, in this early learning phase, I’m simply filming a daily gratitude journal. I think I can stretch this to the end of January with this format, but beyond that, I think a new video format will be needed, to engage viewers. I can tell stories – sometimes successfully and sometimes not – but I’ve not been an improvisational on-camera storyteller before. I might flop, and I think the value proposition of Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude deserves better than that. To create content for this blog, a YouTube channel, and perhaps a podcast that would be complimentary without becoming repetitive is a challenge.
I need some time to strategize and I’m wide open to receiving advice.
I’m grateful for the support of family and friends who have been cheerleading my leap to diversify the outlets for Ten Thousand Days of Gratitude. My niece encouraged me to reach out to creators that were successful, and far ahead of me. Sure, some of them might not give me the time of day, but some of them will. After all, she said, you never know what’s going to explode on YouTube.
Looking at the hate that circulates on the internet, and the cat-plays-a-piano videos that go viral, I said to her that I would be surprised if these videos on gratitude or my gratitude journals exploded. And then a thought dawned on me, and I was grateful, once again, for the revelation. None of this is about me. It isn’t really even about my personal journey.
What if GRATITUDE went viral?
What a glorious world that would be. (Feel free to click and then hit subscribe)
For what are you most grateful, today?
I am not a great fan of needing to tell others my gratitude. It is enough to recognize it and feel good about it – at least for me.
You are an artist and have a need more to express yourself . I hope YouTube is a positive means for you.
Thanks for the well wishes. I think that there is value in expressing our gratitude to others, in that it amplifies and spreads positive emotion and the desire to exercise reciprocity. As for my writing about my gratitude, the only need I have with it is to be an agent of a social movement around gratitude. Beyond the first 7 or maybe 21 day challenge, I had no need for to write publicly except to spread the word about the benefits of gratitude and to inspire others to see things from a more grateful perspective. For the first 7 and then 21 days, accountability was key for me, and many people find that changing habits is helped by accountability. There is a 21 day challenge online that I recently discovered and I’ll be writing/vlogging about it soon. It’s great to feel good about gratitude. I also think there is tremendous value – a multiplier effect, if you will – by expressing it, and creating contagion.