Do you think you could take on a challenge for just one day? One that, although it might seem simple at first, holds the power to transform not just your life but also the lives of those around you?

Allow me to propose the task: Go a full 24-hour period without uttering a single negative word about another person. On the surface, it seems manageable, almost too straightforward, right? It’s not like climbing Mount Everest in your underwear, or solving quantum physics equations in your head while balancing on a tightrope. It’s just refraining from speaking ill of others. A piece of cake, one might say.

However, let’s put this in perspective. What if I were to ask you to go a full day without having a sip of your favorite latte, lighting up that comforting cigarette, or letting a single granule of sugar cross your lips? Could you do it? If your answer is no, we might label you an ‘addict’. An alarming label for such simple pleasures, isn’t it? But that’s the crux. Addiction isn’t always about those hard substances we’re warned about in school. It’s also about the habits so deeply woven into our lives that we barely recognize their hold on us.

Gossip, the act of speaking negatively about others, can be an addictive habit just as potent as any chemical substance. It’s like a pesky vine, creeping its way into our social interactions, intertwining with our daily conversations until it’s almost impossible to separate one from the other. Why? Because gossip, just like that nicotine or sugar, gives us a temporary high. It gives us a sense of belonging, a feeling of superiority. But as with any other addiction, the cost is far greater than the fleeting pleasure.

So, let’s rewind to our initial challenge: can we, for just one day, refrain from speaking ill of others? It may seem like a Herculean task at first. But isn’t it time we break free from the shackles of this habit, this addiction? After all, we become what we practice. If we continually indulge in negative talk, doesn’t it stand to reason that negativity will come to define us?

Remember, we’re all on this vast ship we call Earth together, navigating the rough waters of life. When we speak ill of our shipmates, we are drilling holes in our own vessel. But when we encourage each other, when we lift each other up rather than pulling each other down, we are not just patching those holes, we are building a stronger, more resilient ship.

Imagine the world we could live in if we all took up this challenge, if we made encouragement our default setting rather than gossip. Imagine the wave of positivity, the ripple effect that could spread throughout our communities, cities, even countries. It’s a daunting task, but as the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step. And this step? It’s as simple as biting your tongue before you bite someone else’s character.

So, let’s take the challenge. Let’s set our intentions to uplift those around us and find the strength to break free from this harmful addiction. We can become ‘addicts’ to positivity, encouragement, and kindness. Because at the end of the day, we are what we practice. Let’s practice being the best versions of ourselves, not just for us, but for the entire ship we’re sailing on.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.