When’s the last time you were changed forever? If you hesitated at all then it’s been too long.

For your next personal transformation, I recommend the Nonjudgment Day Challenge.

Don’t get nervous. You don’t need to be Jesus or Buddha or Gandhi to do it.

All you need to be is curious. That’s it.

What does curiosity have to do with judgment?

Let me answer that question with a question: How many ways are there to see people?

My answer is TWO. You can either humanize them or you can objectify them. When you humanize a person you focus on how he or she is a unique feeling individual just like you. When you objectify someone you ignore their uniqueness, and focus instead on your assumptions and judgments about them.

And just because you’ve spent a lot of time with a person or known them your whole life doesn’t mean you are in the habit of humanizing them.

What does all this have to do with the NonJudgment Day Challenge?

Everything! You see to judge is to objectify. To nonjudge is to humanize. And it’s impossible to do both at the same time. Yes, that’s right. I’m saying that it’s impossible to see someone else as a unique feeling person just like you while at the same time treating him or her as an object to be judged.

Is this true? Don’t take my word for it. Find out by taking the NonJudgment Day Challenge!

Here’s what you do: Choose someone in your life that you are currently accustomed to judging. It could be a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, stepparent, co-worker, boss…anyone. It doesn’t have to be your archenemy, just someone who bugs you at times for whatever reason.

Now bend your will toward being genuinely curious about that person. Be concrete. Set a goal. Try to learn FIVE brand new things about that person within the next 24 hours.

What was their childhood really like? What are they most afraid of? What do they love to do? Where do they see themselves five years from now? Once you have your questions, don’t stop digging until you’ve answered them all.

On your mark get set…humanize, or, if you prefer…nonjudge! And while you do, observe carefully what you experience.

Advice: Being curious is difficult. Mostly because it’s humbling. It involves being a good listener and being open to hearing things you may not like or agree with. Being a good listener means not being distracted by your prior beliefs and judgments, the ones that usually fly through your head while people are talking. This takes practice! A lot of practice. So if it’s too hard to do today, or if you find that your question asking is turning into an irritable cross-examination, then take a break, and try again tomorrow.

Warning: This experiment can change you. It can blow your schemas about other people and yourself completely out of the water. It can set you on a new life path. If done with integrity there is no telling what might happen. 

Confession: Here’s what I’ve learned by taking the NonJudgment Day Challenge myself over and over again: There is an entire world out there, right in front of my eyes, just waiting for me to take notice, listen, and engage.

But the logs of judgment jam the river of my attention. They prevent me from seeing, touching, tasting, and feeling what’s actually out there. My judgments prevent me from seeing what is. And from making genuine contact with the people in my life. Even those I claim to love.

By taking the NonJudgment Day Challenge over and over again, my own logs have started to unjam, and the flow of my attention has grown noticeably stronger. And along with it my connections to the people in my life have grown deeper and more intimate. That’s been my experience anyway.

I wonder what yours will be?

Eric Silver,
Doctor of Society & Founder of the NonJudgment Day Project

To submit a story, or poem, or whatever you got to the NonJudgment Day Project blog, send it to NJDProject@gmail.com  

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