Know Yourself

"Getting to know yourself better through this or any self-knowledge activity is a valuable supplement to all the activities described in this book. It's hard to wallow constructively unless you know who's wallowing, and in what.

"The following is a silent game you play in your head as you go about your day. The only rule is this: Whatever you pay attention to, no matter how small or inconsequential, you must decide whether you like it or you don't like it.

"Here's what it looks like. You're getting ready for work in the morning and you're eating cereal. You think to yourself, 'Do I like this cereal? Or do I not like it?' Don't accept a neutral answer; choose 'I like it' or 'I don't like it.' You can always change your mind next time. Just go with how you feel about the cereal right this minute.

"Let's say you take the bus to work in the morning. As you stand there waiting for the bus, noticing the weather, the time of day, etc., ask yourself whether you like or don't like waiting for the bus. Once you've made your decision, move on to the next thing.

"Do you like taking the bus to work? Do you like your desk? Your chair? Do you like this or that coworker? Do you like starting the day by returning phone calls? Do you like your lunch? Etc., etc., etc.

"Look for things to evaluate in the moment. If something is neutral or you're not sure, force yourself to choose either 'I like it' or 'I don't like it.'

"Don't be overly concerned about getting it right, especially at first. Accuracy isn't the point of the exercise. Your answers will become more accurate with time and practice.

"The point of this activity is to check in with yourself regularly and pay attention to your preferences.

"You might find it very hard in the beginning to know whether you like something. You might be tempted to give yourself a neutral answer like 'It's okay,' 'Not too bad,' etc. Don't give in. Decide 'I like it' or 'I don't like it' until you get used to making these decisions.

"Knowing how you feel about little day-to-day things makes it easier to know how you feel about bigger things. This particular activity also gives you permission both to have a preference and to change your mind later.

"Through this simple game, you'll gather information about yourself that you might not have uncovered if you hadn't bothered to check in.

"Now . . . Do you like this activity? Or do you not like it?"