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My 30-day commitment to say only Positive or Neutral words
by eric On September 26, 2012

Positive, upbeat people are healthier, happier and more productive than their negative and complaining counterparts.

Chances are high that 99% of the people reading  this will agree with me on that … and even if you are a skeptic that stumbled upon this site …  i imagine you too would agree that a positive outlook helps create better results than a negative one.

The big challenge is that i am both of those people.  I’m the optimist AND the pessimist.  I’m the guy who sees you as awesome and amazing and the guy who is overly critical.

Are you both of those people too?

You know that when your thoughts and focus are full of joy, admiration and optimism you feel better, get better results, and are awesome to be around.  I imagine you also know that when you’re complaining, criticizing others and ungrateful – the picture of your world isn’t as fun and productive.

“Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts;
for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”  Marcus Aurelius

What to do?

The answer is NOT just think positive thoughts.  Seriously… if that worked, you wouldn’t be reading this post and i wouldn’t be writing it!  Our minds are filled with thoughts that just pop up.  Sometimes these random thoughts are fun, constructive and supportive.  And oftentimes they are not.

When is the last time that you consciously had the thought, “I’m just going to sit here and ponder all of the things that are going wrong in my life.  Make a top ten list for the day and then share that list with the people closest to me?”  That’s not the way it works.  How it works is that life happens, a critical thought about someone or something pops into your head (who put THAT there?   who knows?!) and then before you are really aware of it … that negative thoughts pops out of your mouth.

This is when the real law of attraction really kicks in.  Sidenote:  it’s my observation that the law of attraction is one of the most misunderstood concepts in all of personal development.  You don’t sit at your kitchen table, think about the perfect body, soul mate, income or anything else and then it just shows up… that’s simply not how it works.  You don’t LITERALLY become what you think about  - Roger Seip cracks me up when he says “If that were literally true, I would have become a girl in high school.”

I will certainly write more about my experience with the Law of Attraction in the future.  For now i’ll just say that what your thoughts attract more than anything else is MORE THOUGHTS.  And what you think DOES shape your experience and your results… so back to the question:

What to do?  Enter my 30 day Challenge.

I have committed to say only positive or neutral words for 30 consecutive days.  That means no criticism, complaining or negative commentary is allowed to be spoken aloud for 30 straight days.  There are host of reasons i love this challenge, here are my top 4.

1.  It requires me to really consider what i am saying.  I can still address challenges, express my opinions that are contrary to others and make constructive criticism.  I just can’t mindlessly bitch and complain… actually, i can – it just means going back to day one and starting over again.

For example:  “My emails are so unclear.”  “You make no sense at all!”  and “That was the worst call in the history of football.”  Have all sent me back to day one.

What i could have said to make the exact same point would have been:  “I know i can improve the clarity of my  emails”  “I would love to understand you better!”  and “That call had the most room for improvement in the history of football.”

2.  The results are immediate and tangible.  When i began my challenge, i immediately felt better.  I received really sincere and appreciative feedback from people close to me.  And i’ve created some outstanding results from situations that didn’t appear to be filled with goodness.  And i’m not alone on this one at all – a good friend just texted me “We started your positive words challenge last night.  My (19 year old daughter) said she would ‘try but I have a very stressful week.’  This morning she wrote me (from college) ‘I am liking this positive thinking thing.  A LOT :) in fact it’s completely making my day’.”

3.  It doesn’t require me to hide, alter or manipulate my feelings.  Feelings come and go.  I am a huge believer that “what i resist persists.”  If you want to stay sad, angry or confused for a really long time … deny yourself the Freedom to feel that way.  This challenge is NOT about what i think or feel… it’s only about spoken words.

4.  It is a win/win challenge.  If i succeed and only positive or neutral words come out – i win!  When i slip  and go back to day one – i win… just more days of focusing on the positive and experiencing all of the goodness of the challenge.   Why would i EVER want to get to 30 days and have all of this goodness be done?  Yeah, yeah – the sense of accomplishment et all.  Ok, that will be fun too.

Here’s my experience so far.  I started on August 12th…  on day two i slipped and went back to day one again.  Then i strung together 24 days … ooops disagreement with Michelle – back to day one.  Then i bounced around getting to day 3, 5, 4, until Monday Night football.  I grew up in Green Bay.  O’well.  Now i’m on day three and loving it.

I’ll be posting my experiences here. I know that dozens of other people are having fun with this challenge too.  Certainly feel free to make up your own challenge!  A friend of mine posted on FB “30 days is the Everest of this exercise. I think the rest of us mere mortals should start with 24 hours, then recalibrate and shoot for 3 days.”

I think that is awesome too!  My main suggestion is to have fun with it… post YOUR commitment and keep us all in the loop as to how you are doing

be free!

Oh… How did this challenge come about?   In 2008 Michelle and our great friends Tom and Peggy Weber were hanging out in Argentina for a month.  We read about paster Will Bowen’s 21-day Complaint Free Challenge and edited what he was doing into this challenge.  Round one took me about 90 days to complete 30.




  1. Terry

    30 days!!! Who can even fathom doing a week, let alone 30 days!!! That’s impossible. Oh shoot, back to day 1. Wait a minute, It is day 1!
    Seriously though Eric, thanks for this post. It’s just what the doctor ordered…………..

  2. Brenda Colantonio

    Wow I love how the universe works I love that I saw your email right at this moment. Im on a 30 day no TV commitment that I started after Joel Bauer, simply cause he said so. Ive given up a lot in order to change my life but that was one thing I felt I needed.. mainly because I have a bad back and have to lie down a lot. But maybe.. just maybe its not as it appears and im not as disabled as I feel and the TV is an excuse and because I gave up so much other stuff I felt justified. Its GREAT I gave up the other stuff. Actually vital. Drugs, smoking, and drinking for the most part and im super proud of myself for it, but why does it have to stop there? Ive been lazy with getting things done that arent even a big deal to do. Half or more of the time im watching tv im not even paying attention ANYWAY!!!! Its so BORING!!! Ive made amazing strides but I was starting to just stew in my own juices again and not even realizing it. Joel kicked my ass and even after 1 day without TV instead working on the stuff i learnt. I came up with a business plan, name, statement and 3 services I would deliver in just a few hours. AND it wasnt even hard! ALL this time I was stewing I could have actually been building something.
    Im sticking to the commitment even though i feel ive leant my lesson LOL cause I dont know what I dont know and who knows what other stuff Ill come up with if i leave the tv OFF and while pretty much the only show I really like is airing. Survivor. LOL
    I like your commitment idea too and I think I will also take on that challenge, why not, I have the time to think and work on myself now. :)

    Thanks for brightening my day

  3. Brenda Colantonio

    Oh I also did up my resume and actually went out and looked for a job.. on day 2 without tv and probably have one now. I could have done this at ANY time. Was the TV sucking the motivation out of me. I also havent felt any depression since

  4. Eric Post author

    one thing i didn’t mention in the post that i think is super important… if i am around other people doing the challenge, i NEVER can send them back to day one for “being negative.” This is a self officiated challenge. If i call someone else out for being negative … i go back to day one!

  5. Genene Cheatham

    Good morning! I’ve decided to ACCOMPLISH the 30 day commitment however, I have a question: Soooo….I am an outrageously sarcastic person, and have had to restart about four times so far today (day one!), and it’s only 10am…which I attribute towards my sarcastic nature. While I find this humerous, I’m also worried that it’s going to require quite a few start overs. Advice? I did note that the last time I started over (15 minutes ago btw) that it was with a humerous attempt to say something positive but I think it still qualified as negative. Oh yeah, I’m also a Virgo and overthink quite a bit. Must say, this commitment is going to be a blast for me. =) Probably need that advice on how to curb my inner smart mouth asap as I think my fifth start over is on the horizon. Thanks Eric!!!

  6. Scott Williams

    I’m in! I in the first week of a 3 week cleanse and already feeling better in many ways, one of which is a sense of positivity. This is a perfect complement. Thanks for the idea and encouragement to stay positive.

    1. CJ

      I saw it work for you on the golf course Eric. If you can make it there, while watching your 5th golf ball fly out of bounds, then you can do it anywhere. I am up for the challenge dude. Since Andie and I are starting on the same day, we’ll see if we can both give each other a big hug of congratulations on 10/28! Good luck to everyone.

  7. Sunshine

    As I reflect on what I have just done for myself (made the commitment) any number of negative “programs” (habits) have started weeping and wailing about “Oh no, surely you cannot mean I won’t be able to complain about …….?” “But, but they are wrong to think, say or act like that!”.

    And as I say; “You have that right!”, there is a joy welling up inside me and I see that it is actually about me wanting to be right about them being wrong.

    My heart tells me that this is the work of Byron Katie, only, in real time. Turn it around. Turn it around!

    It is as if I opened the shutters and let the light shine into the negativity generation skunk works. Now I see it. Now some house cleaning can lovingly begin.

  8. Sunshine

    OOh my gosh…
    Minutes into Day 1 and what a beautiful world this is!!!
    Catching those programs before they kick off is quite the act of discernment.

  9. Pat

    I am in and I have a feeling it is going to be fun! It already is! Just finished reading all the comments and some really cracked me up. Love to laugh, even it is at myself! That way I stop the complaining and the b….ing! The idea that came to mind this morning was: I dug a big whole, started the charcoal inside, and got a huge pot 1/2 full of water; every time I think of something negative, I’ll put it in the pot to “cook” before I have a chance to say it. That way I get it out of my mind and don’t say it. Besides, that will make me laugh to see it cooking in the boiling water. Or, is that also being negative??? :)

  10. Sharon

    I’m so excited to try this! It goes along with my plans for self-transformation nicely, and positive/neutral speaking can only help with that. Thank you for the idea!

  11. Andie

    didn’t make it through Day 1 and chastised CJ for messing up this morning…back to the start but it made us laugh this morning! most notable was my inability to recall MOST of my conversations throughout the day…wow! what does that say about the conversations i have with others???

    also felt challenged when i found out my 12 yr old daughter was pinched (hard enough to bruise her) by one of her friends at school…a lot of icky thoughts went thru my head about the other child but i just focused on talking with my daughter about what happened and how she is going to handle seeing her friend today…she was so worked up this morning she felt sick! that made me very sad but gave us both a great opportunity to talk about “owning” our emotions

  12. Genene Cheatham

    Well, yesterday was Day One. Today is Day One (again!)…. I had a minor set back due to seeing the Japanese bagel forehead fad and forgot all about a 30 day commitment, much less a 24 hour one. As a result I laughed at myself, and have now reset. The AWESOME news is that I have not had to reset today. I also feel very at peace today. There is a “quiet” inside me that I haven’t felt for a while. I’m feeling good that I’ll make it to Day Two. =)

  13. Eric Post author

    Many people ask me about sarcasm as it relates to the challenge… here is my experience:

    I notice that there are two ways that people generally identify comments as sarcastic … One that is a rip or criticism of a person or situation, and the other being when it’s actually irony (irony being defined as when the assumed meaning is the exact opposite of the literal meaning.)

    Let’s start with the obvious. Ripping or mocking someone or a situation is clearly negative. For me that is an automatic back to day one. Some people do use sarcasm in a funny way that also doesn’t hurt other people’s feelings. I know a lot of sarcastic people that think everyone else should get much thicker skin and not take things so personally. People like that are either going to have a really transformational time on a challenge like this, take many months to string 30 days together – most likely both.

    To note: I am not a sarcastic person by nature and it very rare that i find sarcasm really funny… as it rarely happens without hurting or demeaning someone. Call me sensitive?? Yes, happily.

    When sarcasm is the use of irony, i see two situations. Positive Irony is when something really is GOOD but the actual statement is negative. For example, when you friend wins free tickets to a concert and someone replies, “well that sucks that you didn’t win backstage passes too!” The intent was that the winning of the tickets was a good thing.

    Or Negative Irony. When thunder clouds roll in and it begins to rain on your sporting event and someone says… “Well isn’t THIS just great!” The intention is such that it really ISN’T great.

    For me, i avoid both and 100% of the time would go back to day one for using the later. If my intent is really positive and the words are negative … if i noticed that, i wouldn’t go back to day one and i’d simply reframe comments like that to be 100% genuine.

    1. Genene Cheatham

      I really appreciate this since I specifically asked about it. I NEVER use sarcasm to intentionally be hateful or hurt someone. Never ever. I could see myself teasing about the backstage passes as mentioned above though. Perhaps I just look at how I view MYSELF first. I’ve made it to day four so far. I did have to lock myself away from humanity for a few minutes on Friday to avoid a set back, but I recognized it and was able to happily move beyond the frustrated space I was in. This is a very interesting exercise as I am thinking before I speak pretty consistantly now – which shows me that I wasn’t doing so before. My family has a pool going on how long it will take me to reach my 30 days. It resolved my intent – not to show them, but to honor me. =) Happy Monday.

  14. Pat

    I do use irony and sarcasm but always in a positive or funny way; never to make people feel bad. I like to use humor because it makes me feel better. I have to confess that was doing really well untl today that I “butted” heads with my son and during the conversation I had to go back to day one at least 3 times! I am glad the conversation didn’t last too long. So I’m back to day one today. Just one question: since I blew it 3 times in a row, does that mean that I have to go back to day 1, 3 days in row??? :)

  15. Wade

    I have restarted this challange more than once in the past week. It continues to show me that I am not as concious of the words I say and that watching college football is an EXCELLENT way to prove that. I am loving this! Thank you Eric!

  16. Joanne Diepenheim

    Today is October 1, 2012 and I resolve to say only positive or neutral things to the public, my family and to myself until Halloween. Society has ingrained in me to be kind in public, shouldn’t be too hard. Changing my speech with my family and myself, I look forward to.

  17. Mike

    A poisoned well gives only tainted water. However once the well itself has been cleansed the natural result is clear. I say this only for those who merely try to be positive instead of ‘cleaning the well’ first. Great article.

  18. Sarah Kay Hoffman

    Found you through my lovely friend, Erica Hanna. I love this post so much. It’s the simple things like this missing from our lives.

  19. Ken Budka

    A quick update on my progress and a place to keep track of it too…

    I had to start over several times the first week until I managed to string together close to a week and then begin again a few more times. Currently, my latest start date is November 6th and going strong.

    Many of the challenges I’m finding involve anger and sarcasm, getting ticked-off first, before calmly addressing and looking at the situation. Some times it’s been moments with my daughter where it’s not so much the negative words, but the tone or frustration behind them, like her locking the keys in the car at night while it’s running and we’re supposed to be somewhere in the next 2 minutes. In many cases it’s insignificant things like my computer or inanimate objects that don’t do what they’re supposed to do. In my challenge, I’m being pretty stiff on the sarcasm thing as it usually is more negative than not, even when no one is being hurt by it. I feel it and it’s not serving me realistically so it’s back to day 1 when it occurs.

    Even in reading all of this, it’s not the “what” that really makes any difference. It’s my own reaction to things and more importantly, my FIRST reaction to them that is improving.


  20. Kathy

    As soon as I resigned as “master of the universe” , stopped taking myself so seriously, and surrendered (thank you Rich) — balance was restored. At the end of every day now I say out loud — ‘tomorrow will be a great day.” Because I say it, I honor my promise to myself, and my days have been great. Am on day 6 so far.

      1. Mollie

        Thanks for the welcome, Eric!

        From what I can see so far, this is more than a 30 day commitment for me; this is a commitment for life!

        I LOVE what I’m discovering and have experienced some amazing and positive changes in my life, and I’m only on day 4!

        I’m finding that I’m being much more mindful about the words I allow myself to speak. This practice is helping me to be a better friend to myself and to those around me. I feel a deep connection with some part of myself, a patient and peaceful part, that I sometimes forget in the rush of day to day living. This is a gentle practice, one that causes me to smile at myself when I’m thinking, and momentarily believing, I know what’s best for anyone else! It stops judgment in its tracks, keeps me in my business, and I find myself choosing, over and over again, to be happy instead of right! Wonderful!

        Prompted by an important dream early on day 3, I called my ex-husband. We’ve been divorced for 16 years and have always wanted a better friendship. Because I am committed to only speaking positive or neutral words, the tone of our conversation remained kind, but in a new and deeper way. I felt held somehow…secure in the safety net of my own commitment to only allow positive or neutral words to leave my mouth. And I suddenly found myself able to REALLY LISTEN with an open heart, both to my own thoughts and feelings as they arose, AND his! We both had tears of relief and left the conversation with the understanding that we’ll always be family, dear friends, and here for one another on some intangible yet magically palpable level. I am amazed and very grateful. I feel lighter. And life feels sweeter.

        Thanks, Eric, for having the courage and discipline to sit down, write, and then share this idea with all of us!


  21. Chris

    As soon as I decided to try this out I automatically was aware of some “rats” in my head from being overly critical of other peoples actions and intentions.

  22. Chris

    5 Minutes after reading this someone called me to thank them for there services from a business. I see that as a wink from the Universe! :) Thanks Eric!

  23. Eric

    I’ve love your emails and direct messages and would love to hear more updates… How’s it going? If you didnt feel complete with your challenge, now is a great time to recommit!

  24. David

    Eric Plantenburg, I was a delegate/student at the 2013 world affairs seminar this past week and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for not being a boring speaker (not that the others were, you just kept us interested) and for making complete sense. you truly made an impact on me and many of my other fellow delegates. Please, not for the sake of, but for the sake of the world, continue what you’re doing. I love it and everything you said.
    Thanks again, David.

    1. Eric Post author

      Hi David,

      You are most welcome … i had such a great time speaking at the W.A.S. this year. And i love that you are joining the fun and keeping that great conversation alive here! Be free ~eric

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