The devil is in the detail as they say, and whilst that is true, the joy is in the small things, always, even if you can’t see it. Often the reason why you won't see it is that you're too focused on the bigger picture, aren't we all most of the time? The overriding stress and annoyance of the day in, day out generally makes us immune to the moment because we're never in it. But it really does do you good to stop and smell the roses once in a while, to focus on what is in front of you and enjoy it for what it is. Of course we normally only end up doing this on special occasions, holidays, parties, birthdays, trips out. The rest of the time we're thinking about the next thing we need to do or what will happen as a result of that thing we did the day before. But worry can be a good thing...
Only in context, only when it's necessary and important. And really, we know when shit matters and when it doesn't don't we? When we need to act, we act, when we have to make a decision and stick to it, we do. However, when a situation arises that is not as important we project meaning onto it, we overestimate, overanalyse, predict and anticipate. Then we usually find out that the worry was either completely unfounded or wholly unproductive. I'm beginning to realise that I have a choice. I could choose to worry about the things I can't change, I could try to second guess people and shape the world ineffectually using my anxiety as some kind of blunt instrument to distribute unnecessary strife, and I could spend the rest of my time on this earth making myself miserable during the precious moments where joy is present and there for the taking. Or, I could just not, and choose to be happy during the times when life allows me the luxury. So here's an exercise...
Think of ten things that make you smile. Genuinely, unselfconsciously grin. Five is too few and twenty is too tedious. Don’t worry if you can't think of all ten today, tomorrow or the next day, but try to indulge and think of them around and about whatever it is you’ve got on, because it’s a worthwhile exercise, trust me.
Now, I'm not talking about your family and friends here. They are awesome and essential to your happiness but we all have those support systems and we still don't walk around carefree of heart and giddy of step all of the time. In fact often our adored family are the cause of much of our worry and strife, as much as we love them. This is most likely because we love them. Don't get me wrong, they can be the biggest reason in your life to smile, and you should try to remember that, but remembering to appreciate the little things will help you to appreciate them more too.
Here's my ten things, some of which are very ‘of the moment,’ some transcend all the moments.
1. The smell of the spring air
2. Putting my feet in comfy socks after a bath
3. That nice glowy sort of tired you get after a day at the beach or exercise
4. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage in the sunshine
5. Writing something for the fun of it
6. Reading an awesome story
7. Watching new episodes of one of my favourite TV shows
8. Listening to music on the way home from work
9. Cooking something yummy
10. Playing a board game with my friends
Nothing life changing or awe inspiring but the little joys that I have control over and that I can enjoy. We all have busy lives and obligations, we all have genuine concerns and life will always bring the next serious issue which is worth your worry but I tend to lose sight of what is important and what's not if I'm busy worrying about things I can't change or creating problems out of situations that need not be an issue. Focusing on the little things, enjoying them for what they are, in the moment, elevates your mood and helps you to recognise and appreciate the things that make you happy.
To quote a favourite author of mine ‘Give the future enough thought to be ready for it – but don’t worry about it. Live each day as if you were to die next sunrise. Then face each sunrise as a fresh creation and live for it, joyously.’*
Because mostly, I'm tired of getting wound up over things that either turn out fine anyway or turn out inevitably awful but I haven’t changed the outcome through worrying about it. Even during the really stressful times, the serious times, you still need coping mechanisms and a way to switch off, as impossible as it may seem. If you've managed to establish a method of doing this in the everyday, then it at least gives you a chance of doing so when things turn to shit.
I like being happy, and we don't have enough hours in our lives to spend them being unhappy. Happiness doesn't come out of selfishness or at the expense of other people but through our ability to take a step back and see things for how they are, through retaining that childish joy of delighting in things for their own sake, and ideally sharing that joy with the people you love.
Crazy as it is, I really do forget sometimes that all of this, all of it, is just a journey** and that it's okay, it really is okay, to enjoy it whilst it lasts.
Right! That is enough pontificating and philosophising for now, I know the last few posts have been a bit like that. It’s just that I've been that way out recently and you've got to write what you know, as they say! But next time, I promise, aliens, body horror, Michael Bay style needless explosions, time travel, zombies, yeah, something to that effect. Or a heartfelt film review or suchlike. Could go either way really... ;)
I was trying to think of an appropriate song to link to at the end of this post, and honestly, as cliché as it may seem, it can only be this one...
*R. A. Heinlein Time Enough for Love (1973 pg 46)