Mary Wong ©2013
Life! These days it’s always busy. We rush here and there, scurrying about like ants diligently trying to get our work done in the limited time available. At the end of the day, we flop in front of the TV for a while then collapse in bed exhausted, and often wake in the morning wondering if we’ve been asleep at all. Our diaries are full to the brim with jobs and appointments all making demands of us and we fly about barely noticing our surroundings as we attempt to keep the boss, the spouse, the children, our friends [if we have any left] and everyone else happy; but never taking time out for ourselves.
This is not living – it is merely existing. And it leads to all sorts of emotional issues. The incidence of depression and anxiety is as high as 27% in some studies – that’s more than 1 in 4 people.
So what can we do about this? Certainly, we can’t make time expand, and while some time can be saved by good planning, that time seems to be quite minimal – besides, we’ve all heard the quote about the best-laid plans of mice and men and how they often go awry.
What would you say if I were to tell you that in just a few moments a day, you could brighten your outlook on life by increasing your enjoyment of everyday things? No extra money is required – just an open mind and a bit of concentration. This technique takes the concept of stopping to smell the roses to a higher level.
Go and buy a box of sultanas. When you have done that, eat just one sultana. Wait a moment, then eat another – only this time, take it slowly. Smell the aroma as you place it in your mouth. Notice the texture of the skin, feel its wrinkles on your tongue and then its squeakiness over your teeth. As you bite into it, notice the minute jet of fluid that ruptures from within it, with the consistency of thick honey. Taste the sweet juiciness with a new heightened sense of awareness and wonder at how ordinary the first sultana tasted in comparison to this one. Marvelous, isn’t it?
This technique can be applied to all the senses – sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. To notice only the perfume of the rose is to do it a disservice. Look closely at the folds of the petals, the colour, and shape of the stamens, and feel its softness as it brushes past your lips on the way to your nose. Really live life in that moment with that rose.
Or you could take a lesson in appreciation from Jennifer – a fashion design teacher I once knew. Several years ago, on a grey, rainy day, I attended my first Design lecture at Fashion College. It was about the 20th in a succession of such days, and we were all well and truly over it! Everything was damp and cold and miserable.
Most of our group had never had a formal design lesson. We were all excited and not quite sure what to expect when in walked Jennifer.
Despite her rather incongruous name, she certainly looked the part, with zany clothing and a somewhat wild hairstyle. She looked around the group with a big, bright smile and said, “What a beautiful day – Don’t you just love days like this?!” When we all rolled our eyes and moaned in response, she continued, “But, look at the colours – they’re so soft…The greys are exquisite. How can you not love it?”
“LORDY!” Thought we, “What substance is she on?”
In fact, Jennifer wasn’t on anything – but she was onto something. If you stop moaning about life and start looking at the little intricacies that surround you, there you will find great beauty. In finding this great beauty, you will discover an appreciation for all things – even dull, grey, rainy days.
Now I must clarify here that I am not suggesting that you study everything you see in fine detail – you’d never get anything done if you did that! But what I am suggesting is that instead of flopping in front of the idiot box at night, give your senses some exercise.
On a clear night, you could recline in an outdoor chair and look at the stars whilst feeling the breeze waft over you, smelling the jasmine that trails over the balcony, and listening to the melody of the crickets chirruping. While you do that see how many stars you can find in the spaces between the stars, and then in the spaces between those stars, and appreciate the magnificence of this planet and of the universe that surrounds it.
Practice this technique as much as you can – even if that’s only for 20 seconds at a time. You will find you become excited by the beauty on offer to you. Pass this on to as many people as you can, and together, we can help to relieve the stress and anxiety that is ruling the lives of so many.
Life has so much to offer. Instead of being stressed and depressed, why not live moment by moment in full appreciation of the hidden treasures our beautiful world has to offer? It sounds like perfect sense to me.