For the last four weeks, a few Academy members have come together as a group to experience a daily gratitude ritual.
In a 30 day gratitude challenge set by Academy member Jacob Zylka-Zebracki, members who took part have been discussing how they have been experiencing gratitude and the impact it has been having on their lives.
This was Jacob four weeks ago when he was getting Academy members together to take part in “The Gratitude Experiment.”
The conversations that have been taking place in the group have been interesting to watch, because while gratitude has been a difficult practice for members to implement into their daily routines, I am seeing how Academy members are coming together as a community to converse, create, learn together, contribute to each other’s personal growth, hold each other up and celebrate the successes that are achieved along the way.
From the community, this is one Academy member’s challenging experience that has ended up changing his life for the better:
“My week has been somewhat of a rollercoaster, I must admit, though the dark squares the week has thrown at me have been a lot easier to deal with than it otherwise could have been. Midway through last year I had an idea for a mobile app, which I have since developed, launched and am working on with laser-beam focus. It’s taken a lot of energy, effort and if I’m honest, all my money! I’m all into the project, which I’m enjoying tremendously. However, it doesn’t yet pay a living as it is in its very early stages, so to support myself (I’m a lucky bachelor, my only dependent being my beautiful dog), I was working at a theatre bar. It wasn’t much, but it kept the fridge at least half full. On Monday however I was fired from the theatre for a very trivial incident. Because the terms of the contract were as a casual worker, I have next to no rights in terms of challenging the decision but more annoyingly, no rights to unemployment benefits. Ordinarily this would have knocked me for six. How am I going to pay the bills, afford food etc., stay on top of things in general? Yet all I can feel is gratitude for the new opportunity this has given me; I have a superb set of friends who have been brilliant, offering me help and support. A number of Airbnb bookings have been made which will keep my head above water. But most importantly, being fired has given me the freedom to dedicate myself entirely to the app, a project I have put everything into, to give it the biggest & best chance of success. No distractions. No excuses. 100% dedication to pursuing my vision and passion for helping others. What could have been one of the darkest squares has inspired me to a higher level of consciousness and I’m exceptionally grateful.”
Let’s head over to this week’s member interview with Jacob and find out about The Gratitude Experiment, how gratitude impacts daily on his life, and why he believes that success happens in numbers, rather than in isolation.
Member Interview with Jacob Zylka-Zebracki
Tell us about yourself
“This is a long story and hard to boil it down. I have always been involved in some kind of sport or physical activity. I believe that the physical and mental aspects of us as beings are so closely linked that it is impossible and unreasonable to treat them separately. My joy of life is also a curse because I find so many things interesting that I am trying to invent a 50 hour day and the eighth day of the week. I was called “the truth amulet” as I tend to trigger honesty in people. I feel my honesty has got me into trouble, but it has saved me as well many times. I studied Sociology, Physiotherapy and finished High School of Fine Arts. I have had all sorts of jobs, which gave me amazing experiences, including as a security guard, waiter, bartender, interpreter, translator, physiotherapist and personal trainer, and here we are! I feel I have just brushed on the surface of my potential and now is the time to fulfil it!”
How does expressing gratitude impact your daily life?
“Since starting The Gratitude Experiment with Academy members, the implementation of gratitude has became much easier, and every day is better. The monumental moments however, always happened after me becoming grateful for things that I wanted to change and wasn’t happy about. The moment I realised that these things are not that bad, and I can actually appreciate them, a new chapter opened for me.”
What was your life like before you practiced gratitude?
“Much more negative, I was complaining a lot, not seeing the glorious universe that unfolds before my eyes every second. Being grateful cleared my perception!”
What is The Gratitude Experiment?
“I was trying to figure out a more structured method of implementing this exercise. Exercise is simple and difficult at the same time because we tend to stop being grateful as soon as we feel better and the universe is helping us. The Gratitude Experiment forces Academy members to continue no matter the effects. So, the answer is: I came up with the structured exercise to challenge ourselves and change perception about certain things. This is why I set weekly tasks. The main objective is to spread the knowledge of this concept and create the habit. I wanted to become more consistent as well, therefore I put myself in the position of being responsible for the participants. Symbiosis!”
What are some of the benefits you are learning on the Experiment?
“That possibilities and opportunities appear out of the blue and hard moments can be redefined and therefore are not devastating. Robert Pettersen is a brilliant example. He was able to see himself being fired from work as a chance to continue with his project instead of falling into despair! Amazing! Sylvie Fernandez Robles said she was rediscovering herself: “This experiment is carrying me on to forgotten shores. I am now at a point in my life where I can feel more equanimity…” “I realised that what really makes the difference, since nothing much around changes dramatically moment to moment, is my quality of mind or mood.” Andrew Pope had one of those “obvious” enlightenments… obvious only after being enlightened: “I’ve found that when I see a person and before we’ve even spoken I create the thought “I am grateful for you,” that automatically generates a positive response from the person. I’ve found not one person who does not at the very least authentically smile when I converse with them when coming from this mind-state.” – absolutely beautiful. This is a gateway to creating a better world! It works on every level and it brings peace back into the participant’s mind. Gratitude is creating mindfulness.
What would be a simple gratitude practice?
“I don’t think you can go simpler – it is just 5 minutes a day. It takes a bit of self discipline and the decision to stop for these few short minutes. Maybe that is what is the hardest – stopping the crazy cycle of daily routine. But, if a person is unable to sacrifice 5 minutes in the morning in order to shape their lives they are cheating themselves and using foolish excuses. This is about the responsibility as well.”
What’s your vision for life?
“The vision is still blurry, but I feel I can achieve great things. I would love to help people to better themselves and in turn bring change to the world. This is such a difficult question! It feels I am on the right path at the moment – the vision becomes a bit clearer! For years I felt I didn’t know enough to share with the world. But then, some breakthroughs happened. I remember reading a book written by Dalai Lama and I was surprised to read my exact thoughts! Slowly the confidence started to grow. And then, the path led me to watch few interviews on London Real. These people were sharing ideas I was believing in for years. This brings us to the ‘no-man is an island’ concept. That we are so beautifully interconnected and we should cooperate, because only together we can achieve greatness. And let’s be honest, success in not created in loneliness – we are all affected by so many people and their ideas. This is subtle sometimes, but still very real. The vision became: Jacob share yourself with the world.”
Why is there strength in numbers?
“I was watching the London Real interviews to “spend” time with very interesting people so that I could learn. The Academy felt like a notion worth being part of because I want to be among people that want to evolve! The community here is so important because it enables people to grow together, contribute to each other, and create that critical mass necessary for any kind of change.”
What are you grateful for?
“The list is endless, really. I am grateful for little things and massive things, and I am challenging myself to see more as well. Now for example, I am grateful for these questions because they allow me to refine my thoughts, and I am grateful for interesting conversations with so many people. I am in the process of creating content for my YouTube channel and website! I hope this will bring more value into people’s lives.”
If you’d like to take part in the 30 day gratitude challenge and be mentored by a member of the Tribe, please let us know in the comments below!
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Until next week’s Tribe Talk, have a great week, and if you’d like to get in touch with me, message me @noorahnaker – I’d love to hear from you!