When I get really excited about a new project or thing, I tend to focus on how it’s going to change my future life and subtly devalue my present life. I’ve noticed that this future-focused enchantment is quite prevalent and it can be quite detrimental. When my mind gets consumed by anticipation, my excitement gets accompanied by doses of frustration and impatience as well. Aspects of my present life begin to feel archaic, irrelevant, and agitating. Without warning, I energetically shift from happy to exuding shades of indifference, arrogance, and or disappointment and for often unmerited reasons… 🤮
Let me give you an example: I’ve enjoyed cycling since training and competing in undergrad. On nice days, I really enjoy the 22 mile bike commute to work on my newest road bike which I purchased from a friend in 2020. However, I recently discovered that the bike frame is a little too small for my size (possibly causing me unnecessary aches/soreness), and I’ve since been obsessing over replacing it to the point that I’ve found myself literally loathing the same bike that has provided me so many beautiful rides and memories… That’s when it hit me.
We live in a world where convenience has evolved so exponentially fast that it inadvertently demands constant change.
What are the consequences to this rapidly increasing life of convenience?
Is it just me, or is it becoming harder to be happy and appreciate the things we have?
Take music for example, when was the last time you fell in love with a song? Do you remember how differently music was distributed 20 years ago?
When I was a kid, I remember waiting around all day for a new favorite song to play on the radio just so I could tape record it and then listen to it over and over again for hours, days, even months! Today it takes 4 seconds to Shazam a new song and then add it to my endless library of Spotify playlists only to be inevitably over-shadowed by an even newer hit sometimes on the same day! (Spotify releases on average 60,000 new songs daily 🤯). Much like our playlists; our homes, our hobbies, our technologies, and even our jobs are all loosing sentimental value at an alarming exponential rate.
Thanks to all these innovations, life has never been more incredible; this is by far the most interesting time in human history to ever be alive. However, statistically speaking, it’s also the most depressing time ever. I believe this is the byproduct of a loss of value for the present moment; this constant conditioned state of chasing leads to a severe depletion of gratitude and presence.
To best navigate these times, Melanie Ann Layer ( @melenieannelayer ) coined an interesting analogy to walking:
We move in the direction we desire by keeping one foot firmly rooted where we presently are while propelling the other foot forward.
One foot rooted in gratitude: Giving praise for the blessings that we have in this moment, and from there shifting attention to toward a desire.
Without starting each day with a simple gratitude exercise, it becomes natural to leap in too many directions and lose our sense of appreciation in the process.
Yesterday I journaled about my current bike; how I felt the first time I rode it and some of the memories I had racing and riding it. Afterwards I had one of the best work commute rides I’ve ever had. Maybe it had something to do with the wind and the weather, but my legs were pumping pure love and gratitude into those pedals, and all it took was a few moments of appreciation.
“What you appreciate, appreciates.” -Deepak Chopra
I’d be a hypocrite if I were to advocate minimalism, but what I can tell you for sure is that when I consistently slow downand begin every single day with a little appreciation for the things I currently have, my attitude shifts tremendously.
Try it out: Start your day by selecting at least 3 meaningful nouns in your life and going into detail about why you’re grateful for them. Over time, see if you notice a shift in your attitude.
The simplest practices often feel most insignificant, which is why so few people do them regularly. Ironically, these are the practices that bring out the most meaning in our lives 😉.
With love and grATTITITUDE,
Dentists who have broken the mold in their profession and dedicated to help others to achieve more balance and peace.