What would you do if you had three minutes to live?
I suspect you’d fall in line with the classic joke and wouldn’t bother boiling an egg?
You might go berserk and rush around screaming at the unfairness of it all, but on reflection, I hope you’d use your three minutes more wisely. The chances are you’d tell people closest to you that you loved them. You’d get out into the garden and watch the clouds. You might sit and contemplate - pray a bit maybe? Listen to your favourite song, being careful to choose a short one. Eat some cake. Guzzle a cold beer. Make love (I’m resisting the urge to say that in three minutes, if we cut out the small talk and foreplay, you could do it twice). Or, if that’s stretching it, you’d at least have a hug, most likely a very long, lingering embrace in which you can feel the love transferring.
I guess it’s pretty hard to say because it depends where and with whom you are for your three minutes. But the bigger question might be how many of those things did you do today?
The happiness conundrum comes from the fact that you already know what makes you happy but, whatever it is, you tend not to do it quite as often as you should.
And that conundrum is wrapped in another - many people want to change the world; they don’t want to change themselves.
It’s a snappy line that challenges your thinking and gets a quiet nod of acknowledgement from the majority. We call it ‘destination addiction’ – the headlong rush to the end of the task/meeting/day/week – we’re so busy that we forget to enjoy the journey.
We end up seeking a quick happiness fix, a short-term stop-gap that David Hare describes as ‘painting over the rust’. Work hard to earn money to buy stuff that will make you happy is the mantra, so insidiously embedded in your psyche that it goes unquestioned. They call it ‘retail therapy’ but once you’re hooked you become a retail junkie. It’s a way we’ve learnt to live but maybe there are better ways.
In my 52 years I have tried many of the ways. I lived as a retail junkie for more years than I care to remember and the fixes were good but short lived. I’ve lived in regret of things I have missed out on, in guilt of things I have done, in fear of uncertainty, in hope and seen it taken from me, in sadness, grief and despair and many other ways. Of all the ways I have experienced, there is one that rises to the top. It’s not hope or love or joy or happiness, as you would expect, it’s better than each of them as it encompasses all of them.
I find living in appreciation the most satisfying way to live. It can take some time to get there, so don’t think of it as a fad or a quick fix. It involves resetting all the filters in that massive brain of yours to notice and enjoy what you have, rather than point out what could have been or what’s missing. It sounds like a hard thing to do, but you’ve already done it many times in your life, it’s just this time you’ll be in control of it and have a reason to do it well.
If you’re already appreciating what you have, you know what I’m on about. It touches every aspect of your life. It spring cleans your past, allowing you to enjoy the great times, learn from the hard times, forgive where needed and appreciate the awesomeness that is you is the sum of what went before. It makes the future brighter. But the biggie is that it makes your NOW the best it can be! With all your filters set to appreciation the world gets turned up to 11: full colour, 3D, surround sound with more zest than you thought was possible. It also gives you the ability to navigate that crazy beautiful NOW with ease as you don’t have the baggage of stress, regret, guilt etc. holding you back.
But there must be a catch, right? Surely, this blog must be selling you something. You’re thinking, I have to come on one of your fabulous workshops, or buy a book.
Err, nope! Living a life of appreciation costs nothing and requires very little training. Here’s what you have to do:
Both will need practise and a modicum of effort. More importantly, both require you to step out of the busyness bubble. If the voice in your head gets in the way, tell it to shut up and start again. And when your mind drifts (which it will), notice, and get it back on track. Every time you notice you’ve gone off track is a success, so the more you notice the better you’re getting at it!
Spending a little more time in the now and making gratitude part of your daily routine will set you on course to living an appreciative life. Our philosophy is that if we’re living life fast, we may as well also live it brilliantly.
Mike is tasked with making Wales even more brilliant. Schools, businesses and citizens of Cymru… if you have a happiness/wellbeing requirement, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org