We live in an age (I think, anyway) where we are frequently attuned to people stuffing up. With all of us devoting a lot of time to whining and complaining about each other. We have mostly been shaped and conditioned this way from early in our lives in a whole lot of different ways. And it's everywhere around us. Television news, and newspaper headlines are about the negative stuff, the bad things. An occasional funny or positive item will really jump out, because it will be so unusual. Good news in general does not sell- we are all too attuned to the hard stuff, the bleaker darker aspects of human behavior.
So when I say we need to focus on the good, on the positive, it probably seems a bit twee, a bit superficial, unrealistic even, because after all, we live in a world which is highly attuned to failures and to deficits, such is human nature. And by just being more positive yourself- is that really likely to change the world? Maybe not- but it could certainly begin to change your world- and the worlds of those people you interact with or relate to.
Have a go- assign yourself one day over the coming week, when you will focus only on the positive actions of others. You will notice these- no matter how small, or how minor these actions may appear, and you will mention them to the person or people involved, by giving a compliment, or some other form of praise. Sure, chances are you will see a lot of negative stuff too during your quest- but on this day, choose to overlook it, and remain with your positive focus.
At the end of that day- take five minutes to evaluate how it went; how do you feel in comparison to any other day, when you did not focus on the positive? What do you think it may have done for those people, who were on the receiving end of your positivity?
Would there be any usefulness in continuing with this? Or if it's something you already do quite naturally (lucky you), how could you convince others of the benefits of doing the same?
Busy busy busy- everyone is so busy these days. And even if we are not, we are reluctant to admit it, in case we sound lazy, useless or both. Talk to a bunch of busy friends or colleagues caught up in the frenetic pace of their lives, and they will certainly look at you twice if you say that, well, you are actually not busy: ''what's wrong with you?"
Our houses are filled with labor-saving devices, we have high speed internet, and cell-phones in our pockets, so that we can be in touch with everyone instantly. These were sent to us by the Gods of Technology to supposedley make our lives less busy and more relaxed (that, plus their own need to make squillionaires of themselves), but nope- just made lives busier. If you have all that stuff, well you have to use it,. Sure, washing a hamper of dirty laundry for instance, does not take so long anymore and is way less arduous. And you can microwave your breakfast in two minutes flat. But that's just as well, because you will need to go into the office early to start reading the forty emails that have arrived at your inbox over night.
We have to get things done- it's an increasingly fast-paced world. And it is true- we have a plethora of technology and labor-saving devices at our disposal, both in our homes and in our work-places. But here's the thing: we have less leisure time in our lives now than we had thirty years ago.
What would you do, if you suddenly had an extra two hours in your day- or even one- where you were not allowed to do anything remotely productive?There is one thing that could be really really beneficial to you. It could ground you, it could relax you, it could de-stress you. It could even make you feel more alive, and more healthy. (And if you do it in conjunction with what I talked about in my post last week, your Levels of Awesomeness will shoot up even further.....!) . But of course, you can't just do it just once, for a day or just a week. You would only notice the true benefits if you really seized the one or two hours, eradicated some of the busy-ness from your life and did this small yet worthwhile thing regularly for a long long long long time.......
I'm talking about savoring. It's something that humans have been able to do for ever, yet increasingly do less and less of. Fred Bryant & Joseph Veroff from Loyola University (why is it that we always seem to need academics to tell us to re-focus on those really basic, yet really important aspects of human behavior??) have written of the importance of paying attention to the experience of pleasure. Of paying careful and conscious attention to those often over-looked things that can bring pleasure. In other words, the importance of savoring. Be it staring intently into the petals of an unfolding rose bloom, in a way that you have never before, savoring the intricacies of the petals that have yet to reach their potential. Or wondering about the journey that had been taken by that unusually colored pebble that found itself washed up near your feet, when you walked on the beach yesterday. Paying substantial attention to those things that in our need to be busy, we have forgotten how to gain pleasure from...
I know this sounds so simple - yet it must surely make sense. To be truly focused on the pleasure of simple things around us, even if we want to call it something different to what the academics have named it, can only be beneficial. And what makes real sense to me, is querying the point of having all this other stuff in our lives, if it does not make our lives calmer and less hurried. If we can not then really savor what is around us. This is certainly something I will be thinking more about. Once I've gotten through some of these emails.....
"Some occasional thoughts about families, relationships, and other things that distract us...."