I’m on a train going to visit my parents. Next to me, there is this old lady with an enthusiasm to envy. She’s looking out the window and saying: “Look at all the trees! They’re so green! And look at all the beautiful houses!” I look at her attentively for a moment and I realize she’s probably in her 80’s, but her face is shining with youth, joy and vitality.
Meanwhile, I’m on my laptop, hurrying to answer all my emails before I reach my station, noticing that I’m loosing my Internet connection, thinking to myself “Damn! This isn’t fair! Why is this happening to me! I need to answer my emails!” and getting myself annoyed by the situation.
Then I suddenly realize how silly I am, in the way I think, feel and act right now. And how silly the vast majority of us humans are. Here we are, living in the most evolved society that ever existed, a world which our ancestors 2000 years ago didn’t even dream of, and we’re bitching about things like our Internet providers.
I instantly hear myself thinking: “Fuck this!” A split second later, I close Outlook with a click, deciding to leave my emails for later and I abruptly… relax. I start looking out the window; I notice: the trees are beautiful. Very beautiful! And I don’t even like green. Or so I thought.
How many moments of joy and happiness do we miss out on each day, because we get distracted and pissed off by small problems? How many of them do we miss out on in one month, one year and one lifetime? I don’t even want to make this estimate.
In psychological terms, it is called habituation: the process of getting used with something which exists in our lives all the time or a lot, so it no longer evokes the same emotional response. What it basically means is that our mind no longer interprets that thing as special. It sees it as normal, as a given, it takes it for granted.
This is how we take for granted almost everything in our lives. The personal car, the big plasma TV, the instant communication available with anyone on the planet at anytime, the skills we have as people and the things we can do. Then we start getting really frustrated when for some reason, one of these is no longer available to us. We feel cheated, betrayed, as if life owes us something. Forget silly: this is hilarious!
And so my lesson for the day emerges: if we want to live truly happy lives, we need to stop tacking things for granted. We need to look at even the smallest things in our lives and realize how great, how extraordinary they are. Then we can laugh at almost any modern life problem we have.
When you are able to enjoy the little things in life, not only that you become a lot happier, but you also radiate it. So in social interactions, you exude this positive energy which gets you noticed, impresses people and attracts them to you. This is one interesting way to improve your people skills.
I don’t believe in destiny, but if I would, I’d say that it’s manifesting right now: the old lady got off and now there’s this 8-9 years old kid who just climbed aboard with his mom in her place. He’s full of energy, he’s bouncing left and right and singing “Happy Birthday” like it’s the epiphany of musical creations. He’s so exited about this song!
This must be the second pointer to the same lesson, for reinforcement. I’m looking at the kid and I’m thinking: “I hope school and habituation don’t mess with his head too much”. My station is near; time to close…
Image courtesy of linh.ngan