What makes me happy?
I am writing this note, as I’m sitting at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. I brought my great friend over here today for an MRI scan. The reflection comes to mind, on what is important in life. My poor friend has been unwell for many years. And what I mean by unwell, is not your typical flu or headache. She has been suffering from the disease, that no one could even diagnose till last year! For over a year she has been going through different tests, trips to hospitals, seeing specialists and hoping someone will finally be able to help her out.
Thank god, it sounds like they will, and she is just steps away from the surgery and hopefully road to recovery and normal life. As I am sat here, waiting for her in, I am happy I could do as little as take her to Oxford for this scan. Her wonderful partner, standing by her side all this time, deserved a break for once and, I am glad I could offer a ride.
It makes me wonder, how relevant my problems are in the scheme of greater issues? Every time I watch a documentary or news and see drama around the world - wars, hunger, terrorist attacks, poverty – does this mean our day to day problems are not as important? For a minute or two, I tend to pull myself together and see how good my life is. Our minds though, like to play tricks on us. That memory doesn’t stay there for very long, and at first opportunity I am ready to complain and moan again.
Yet again I am stuck in traffic, why is there such a long queue at the supermarket, my work mates left kitchen messy again, I am single and miserable and so on. Very dramatic and serious problems right? Yet it all matters to us. I read an interesting note somewhere about human ability to complain. We are the only species that can complain. Even whining dog is not doing anything else, other than following its instincts.
Why then, is it so difficult to appreciate good in life. How is my friend, even after all the years of pain and misery, still manages to keep constant smile on her face? Is it easier to appreciate life, when we experience how fragile it can be? It is probably easier said than done.
The biggest experience of death for me, was my dearest grandfathers death. That shook me up. Still to this day, I cannot accept he is no longer here. I have seen a man go from strength to point, that no one should ever go through. Not being able to look after yourself, to have no dignity left. It broke my heart. Nothing else mattered then, all I wanted is to my grandad not be in pain anymore. For a short while it opened my eyes, that the material things, chasing lifestyle and status, arguments with the close ones – none of that really matters. We can lose it just like this.
And what is left behind us?
My grandad is with me all the time. I do carry his picture in my wallet, but also, he’s always in my heart. I realised, this is what being an adult is about, when suddenly people that I thought will be there forever, are getting older, they are no longer immortal as I thought as a child.
It is not all depressing. It was meant to be a blog on appreciation, not a reflection on life and death. But one is dependent on other, I think. I am learning to appreciate small and big things in life. For few months, I got into a habit of writing down what good happened to me the day before. I aimed for 20 points each day, I was lucky to start with ability to pick 5. It is not as easy exercise, but the more you think and observe on what is going on around you, the more appreciative you become of yourself and others.
For example, today, just few hours in – this is what I would be able to be grateful for:
*Waking up to a sunny morning
*Seeing green nature, spring vibes around while driving on the motorway – trees, grass
*Empty roads at 6 am – finally no traffic yay
*Birds singing while getting up with first rays of sun
*My reflection in the mirror – smiling and happy eyes
*Drinking green tea with my friend
*Positivity and smiley face of my friend even though she has a lot going on
And so on…I could carry on, I got used to seeing and appreciating little things. Anything can make us happy, but we just sometimes don’t see it as a special thing or event. Good meal, favourite TV show, hot bath, walk with a dog, phone conversation with a friend or family member, completed work project, offering seat to an elderly on the bus. It is down to us to see, how it makes us better at appreciating every day life. It cannot always be about BIG things – only exotic holidays, next pair of shoes, fancy car – happiness and pleasure from those, passes very quickly. I learned it myself, because for many years this is how I used to think. I couldn’t understand, why I never fully felt happy or appreciative of what I have. I used to follow, what I thought was the road to happiness and what everyone else was doing.
Now, more than ever, I enjoy my independence and how different I might be. I like to be silly, I like to make people smile, I like to surprise people and most importantly do what makes me happy. At the moment, it’s writing my blog.
I wish form the bottom of my heart, that you also listen to your inner voice and see the good around you, learn to appreciate smallest of the things. I am a realist and understand that not every day is like a unicorn flying around colourful rainbow. But it is state of mind. And it works. Just try it.
Have a beautiful day!