By Jennifer S. Wilkov
Survivor – Author – Collaborator.
Celebrating Humanity Gracefully
“Fanning the Flames of the Human Spirit”
Have you ever made commitments and then discovered that you didn’t keep to them?
It happens to us all. It’s part of learning to say yes to some things and no to others. It’s one of life’s greatest lessons.
Too often there is a smorgasbord of opportunities to choose from for how to spend your time, money, energy and resources. It’s easy to realize that you may be making commitments that you fully intend to keep – and then find that you haven’t yet created a discipline around actually keeping them.
I remember reading a particular story in a book by my good friend, Jack Canfield, one which I’ve read several times, entitled The Success Prinicples™: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. In Principle 35 of the 64 principles included in the book, the chapter is entitled: “99% Is A Bitch; 100% Is A Breeze.” Inside that chapter is an anecdote in the section subtitled, “Only On A Full Moon,” on page 252 in which Jack recounts the story of one of his mentors, Sid Simon, who only ate ice cream on the day of the full moon.
As his story goes, Jack attended Sid’s seventy-fifth birthday party which fell on a day that was not the full moon. Dessert was the standard cake and ice cream. Over 100 people who were near and dear to Sid came to celebrate. They wanted to cajole Sid into making an exception to his standard of eating ice cream only on a full moon so four of the attendees who knew of his commitment went to great lengths to make it okay for him to eat it on this auspicious occasion. They even created “full moons” out of cardboard and aluminum foil to create a virtual full moon for Sid.
Even with all of this loving persuasion, Sid declined the ice cream. He knew that if he broke his commitment this one time, it would be that much easier to break it again the next time he was offered ice cream.
After reading this great lesson in self-discipline several years ago, I thought to myself: “What could I choose as a commitment similar to Sid’s ice cream that would reinforce the discipline around the commitments I make to myself and others? How could I create a similar success principle that I could practice monthly in my own life?”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love CHOCOLATE! It’s one of life’s greatest pleasures and I really enjoy it in many forms and fashions. As I thought about what I wanted to choose, chocolate continued to pop to the top of my consciousness.
So I made a personal agreement with myself that I would only eat chocolate on the day of the full moon.
I’m happy to share that I’ve successfully kept that commitment to myself for a few years now.
Surprising to many, I even remained true to it when I was inappropriately incarcerated in Rikers Island for 4 months. The women there questioned why I wouldn’t eat chocolate except on that one day of the month and asked me about this. I explained my practice to them and the origin of why I started it. And then… even they would put aside chocolate candy bars, cookies and other chocolate treats they would purchase in the commissary with the intention of sharing these with me on my big day each month. It was something they also planned for and kept track of it. It was something we all could count on as something good.
Friends of mine who know about my “Chocolate Day” have continued to honor and support me with my commitment since I first informed them about my decision. Some tried to persuade me at first to eat it on another day while I was with them or to make exceptions about the day of the month I would eat it on. Then, they came to recognize the importance of my discipline around this and instead became incredibly supportive and celebrants of the great example they felt I was creating for them.
Many quietly admitted that they just didn’t feel confident that they could stay true to it like I could. Some felt encouraged by living vicariously through me instead and cheered me on with my great once-a-month treats.
I’ve had friends bring me chocolate treats from airplane trips, telling me that they wanted me to have the chocolate bar they received in first class for my next “Chocolate Day,” and others have sent me Starbucks cards loaded with the money to purchase a grande Peppermint Hot Chocolate – a favorite of mine this time of year.
In the beginning, I stumbled along – sometimes missing the day completely and having to discipline myself to adhere to the rules of engagement I had created. This gave me incentive to pay more attention to the calendar and the timing of this monthly event. Hey, if I wanted to have chocolate, then I was going to have to pay closer attention so I could get it at the right time.
This practice I affectionately refer to as “Chocolate Day” continues to be a great lesson for me and a great success I can always turn to with humility and joy. I have been maintaining this celebration through life’s highs and lows, through every condition, circumstance and situation, among strangers and when with loved ones, and when I’ve had the funds to purchase everything chocolate I’ve wanted and when I had pennies to purchase just enough to pop a single chocolate in my mouth – just to taste it. I even signed up for the Godiva Rewards Program when they introduced it last year. When they told me that as a member once a month I could have any treat I wanted from the case they have in the store for free, I didn’t hesitate one bit and signed up. Imagine, even Godiva supports my personal commitment to “Chocolate Day” every month – how cool! (Admittedly, I LOVE their dark chocolate covered orange peels and I could honestly scoop these up every day of the week and twice on Sunday, if it weren’t for “Chocolate Day”)
I’ve kept this commitment of honoring “Chocolate Day” to myself without exception – and it’s a great feeling to know this.
So during this time at the beginning of the year when resolutions are made and new disciplines are defined, what commitment are you willing to make to yourself that mirrors my “Chocolate Day?”
I encourage you to read about Sid’s commitment in Jack’s book and make the choice to model his commitment and mine and create your own. I can honestly say…it has truly changed my life. It has also unexpectedly touched the lives of others around me in ways I could never have anticipated or known.
It is my intention with this article to pay forward the benefits of this personal practice that I’ve adopted by sharing it with you. May it truly become life-changing for you too and the lives around you.
And now, as it is January 19th, 2011, at the time of this posting, I must conclude this article as there is a Peppermint Hot Chocolate with my name on it at Starbucks in my future today…Yes indeed, it’s Chocolate Day!
You can do it!
Tell me about what you’ve chosen as your “Chocolate Day” item. I’d love hear how you find this discipline life-changing for yourself and others.
© 2011 Jennifer S. Wilkov. All Rights Reserved.
Jennifer S. Wilkov
Jennifer’s passion for communication has led to her being a # 1 radio show host, a best-selling award-winning author, a dynamic speaker, an award-winning freelance writer, a successful book business consultant and an enthusiastic entrepreneur. She survived being incarcerated in one of New York’s most violent prisons after inappropriately being told to plead guilty to a crime she didn’t commit by an attorney who mishandled her case. Jennifer continued to succeed as an author, entrepreneur and speaker after enduring this devastating, unimaginable experience. She knows what it takes to live the life you love in the face of any challenge. She loves to inspire audiences everywhere with the insights, knowledge and wisdom she has gained so participants take action. Jennifer fans the flames of the Human Spirit in each audience member and empowers them to tell their story, express it transparently, leap powerfully into their lives and at last live the life they’ve imagined. For more information, www.jenniferswilkov.com.