My journey to Jackson Pollock my life


I keep my phone in greyscale. Initially, I turned it grey as part of an effort to use my phone less. I wanted to detach from this dopamine machine. When the phone is without color, it’s just a tad bit more boring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still addicted to my device, but just slightly less than before. The grey color scheme helps my mind contextualize it as a tool, rather than an endless source of stimulus. 10/10 would recommend.

I was introduced to the idea by Deep Work author, Cal Newport. It's a simple tip with a profound impact.

To try for yourself on an iPhone:

Settings -> Accessibility -> Display & Text Size -> Color Filters -> On -> Grayscale

Side note: I’m not here to cast my vote in the “greyscale” vs “grayscale” debate. That’s a hotly contested international dispute and I have no intention of starting WWIII.

Disclaimer: if you request a photo from a kind stranger, they’ll inevitably ask you, “It’s in black & white. Is that ok?”

After experimenting with this for a couple of days, I was shocked at how quickly my brain adapted to the new setting. My eyes began to expect to see the content of my phone in grey.

I know this because, every once in awhile, as I reminisced in my camera roll or watched a video, I’d slide the color back on.

When I did, the colors were incredible! So visually vibrant! They popped off the page. So much so that I thought someone might’ve slipped some psychedelics in my coffee.

However, even with the full color, when compared to the real world, “the pictures never do it justice.” No matter what photo I was looking at - a group pic, a sunset, a plentiful plate of Pad Thai - it never looked as vibrant as it did when it was captured.

So, with this realization in mind, the choice to keep my phone in greyscale became a way to NOT seek beauty in my device. Not because it wasn’t there (we’ve all seen the drool-inducing travel IGs) but because it was an unsatisfying distraction from the real thing. Rather than finding beauty in my black mirror, I could refocus my attention on the beauty in the world around me. I wanted to cultivate a greater appreciation for what was right in front of me by intentionally making the digital version less appealing.

As I was writing this, I had a revelation: I’ve been seeing my whole life in greyscale. Similar to when I changed my screen setting, my brain adapted so quickly I hadn’t even noticed.

I hadn’t noticed that the color had faded from the canvas of my life. I’ve been taking people & places for granted, whether it’s the the towering trees on the ski hill or the smiling faces of my closest friends.

I’ve been expecting a lot from the world, which has made my reality underwhelming. After all…

Happiness = Reality - Expectations

My high expectations have put immense pressure on reality to meet the mark. At best, people and situations meet expectation. At worst, they’re a complete disappointment. So everything’s just becomes hum-drum, drab, bland, routine, boring, blahhhhh… it’s all just grey :/

But I’ve woken up! Now I see! It doesn’t have to stay this way!

I can turn the vibrancy & aliveness & color back ON in my life by sliding the greyscale filter OFF.

I can do this by recognizing that the world owes me nothing. There’s no cosmic law saying my life must have all of these delightful elements mixed in. My life doesn’t have to be this way. It doesn’t have to be this great!

I don’t even have to be here. In fact, I won’t be some day. So, to simply get to live today is a gift. To get to be a part of this crazy, fun, fantastic world is an incredible blessing.

I lost sight of this. And, as a result, my life lost its color. But, no more… Going forward, I intend to “deepen my gratitude" and "light up my world."

So, what does this look like?

I’m grateful in the morning for being gifted a new day, even if I’m prepping for a grind.
I’m grateful before eating for whatever random delight comes to mind.
I’m grateful in the evening for the day that’s left behind.

These habitual practices are reminders to splatter some color on the canvas of my life. I’ve realized that I always have the paint & the brush. I just have to choose to use ‘em. And, who knows, maybe one day I can become “The Jackson Pollock of Gratitude.”

In the meantime, I’m just happy to be here.

What parts of my life am I seeing in grey?

What or who do I need to see with a renewed sense of color?

What steps can I take to splash some more color on my life?

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