Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What makes us happy

WP_20150212_001 (1300x806)To cope with cold winter’s mornings, the FT tells of a couple who erected a Wow Board in their bedroom.  This is a pinboard covered with photos, mementos, aphorisms, anything in life that makes you say ‘Wow!’

Gazing at this collage of wonder would help you count your blessings, alleviate anxiety and replace discontent with joy and gratitude. You’ll focus on what you have, not what you lack, bombarding yourself with good messages before the bad ones have a chance to take hold.

Perhaps. I know that I tend to look outward rather than inward in the mornings, embracing news and essays and reflecting on recent experiences, avoiding email and to-do lists before 8:30.  Somehow, it usually gets the day off well.

So, a few things that have recently made me happy in the early mornings:

DSC01168 (1300x943)Most notably a colleague, one who wrote to say that his young son, diagnosed with a rare variety of cancer, was doing better.  His story is really inspiring, his family coming through some very hard times together, and hopefully successfully.  We talked about it all for a good while yesterday, it really does put a lot of my own problems into proper perspective.

The argument between the Greeks and Germans over debt forgiveness vs. further austerity plays out daily.  The NYTimes characterized it as

Germany to Greece: Nice banking system you got there. Be a shame if something were to happen to it.

Greece to Germany: Oh, yeah? Well, we’d hate to see your nice, shiny European Union get all banged up.

The columnist concluded that, beyond Green irresponsibility, German stubbornness is at fault for the impasse.  It is a resonant theme with me. 

We are deep into an engineering transfer to a German firm, and their attitudes are best described as “inflexible”.  On pretty much every issue, all the time, there is one way to do things, and no deviation is possible.  When it’s all done I’m sure manufacture will run like a clock.  WP_20150212_002 (1300x905)But it made me smile to see the same traits play out on such an elevated level of diplomacy.

The plumber came last week and replaced a stuck valve in the bathroom’s hot water pipe. A hot shower has been impossible for months, only a trickle of warmth each frigid morning.  But now I have a lovely cascade, an indulgence that makes me look forward to getting up. 

hroughout my time in Europe, hot showers with pressure have been a luxury: one element or the other is always missing. Others notice as well.  But, for now, it’s lovely to have a little decadence at the Lilac Room.

A friend texted that they weren’t responsible for a picture posted on their Facebook timeline.  ‘Nothing more, so I looked, and found nothing..  So now I know that 1) there is a mystery picture I’d be concerned about, and 2) its been hidden from me.  I feel hurt and irritated.  beliefAnother friend related how she leaves a message, sees the recipient come and go without answering, maybe post something publicly of their own.  The sender starts wondering what they did wrong, feeling hurt and irritated.

This is how life goes on Facebook.  It crystalized for me when a commentator simply observed that Facebook made him sad.

So true.  I’ve removed FB and Messenger apps from my tablet and phone, started limiting Skype connections, and looked for a new community.

I really recommend thumbing through Behance, a site for showcasing and discovering creative work.  Portfolios of work are curated by photographers, artists, designers, and architects.  The variety and passion are just wonderful.

WP_20150212_003 (1300x681)I decorate my rooms with memories of the people and places that are meaningful to me, with eclectic bits of flotsam and gifts that remind me of good friends and events, and with thoughtful books and knick-knacks that give my spirit a stir when I need it.

I could say that I craft my Wow Board from the living stuff of experiences, mine and others.

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