I jog and listen to a book at the same time thanks to my headphones. I take a plane and learn how to use new tools thanks to my Kindle. I spend my time slotting my professional, family and personal activities into one another like a giant game of Tetris so that I’m always doing more things more quickly and all at the same time.
In other words, I’m often phenomenally efficient, and obsession tends to generate more obsession.
But what happens when the noise stops?
During my 6-week hike this summer, all I did was put one foot in front of the other. No headphones. Silence around me. Silence inside.
Picnicking alone. A sea view. No books. No conversations. Even a tin of tuna tastes different under such circumstances.
Having got a taste for doing just one activity (as well as for tuna), I now feel that I’d like to be more present in my everyday activities.
What about you? What single activity would you like to spend your time doing without being drowned out by your own obsessiveness?
Summer is coming the magazines are full of slimming diets, detox treatments and body sculpting exercises.
Readers throw themselves headlong into the method suggested, get disheartened and give up. Often because they have taken on something that was too ambitious.
Tibetan monks have solved this problem in a different way. When they take their vows, they take the ones they feel capable of keeping. And once they have committed to them, they can no longer change them.
The same applies to New Year’s resolutions. Do we make the ones we are capable of keeping? Are we just playing it safe?
What about you? What personal commitment would you like to make?
I nearly always adopt the same approach when I am writing a bubble of happiness. I look for an idea, find an angle for it and start to write.
This summer I did it the other way round. I sat down every evening to write a chapter for a story that came to me as I went along.I didn’t know in the morning what I would be writing in the evening and what was going to happen to my characters.
Sitting at my keyboard, I would observe the images that came into my head and describe them.
On some occasions really bizarre ideas sprang to mind. On others, I was laughing to myself. I wondered where all these ideas originated – they seemed to come out of nowhere.
That fount of stories, that only needed letting out, had always been there. Untapped. Bubbling with all sorts of sounds. This summer I drank from this source for the first time.
What about you? Do you take the time to listen to the stories hidden deep within you? What inspiration lies within you that is just waiting to be nurtured?
My German background is often my excuse for being a stickler for punctuality. I can’t bear being late, which is often why I’m hanging about waiting to meet someone.
The challenge I have is that I expect the same from other people. When I’m made to wait, I feel as if I’m not respected.
And that’s when I part company with common sense. I start wallowing in self-pity and feel completely miserable. I become inconsolable.
I used to keep these feelings deep inside and they would eat away at me. Now I express myself and say, “I feel as if I count for nothing.” The great thing is that I’m not sulking any more. I’ve said what was on my mind and it lets the other person give me an explanation I can understand.
Everyone can see where they are then. And I can get on with my life.
What about you? What should you get out of your system so that you can get on with your life?
“Life’s a bitch,” moans my friend, furious. “Just when I think my life is on track and everything is fine, that I am enjoying myself and feeling happy, that’s when I have a problem. It’s always the same old story,” she grumbles.
I keep quiet and let her rant. I’ve often had the same thoughts. When it’s all systems go and I’m riding a wave of happiness, some external factor always seems to appear and bring back down to earth. But I’ve often said that was probably a good thing, because it stops me getting too full of myself.
A proverb that I found in a poem that I came across illustrates my ideas in a much prettier way than I can:
« Life is like a rainbow: you need the rain and the sun to see its colours. »
What if we were happy all the time? Would you be able to appreciate the true value of the things that happened to you? It’s the rain that creates the rainbow. So let’s not moan. Let’s see what good is going to come out of this rain. In just a little while.