How often do you get to the end of the day, sit down and look back on it and feel like it’s all passed you by in one big blur?
In any one day it seems like there are endless tasks and projects to do and not enough time to get it all done.
If you think about it do you really take notice of the wider world around you as you’re going about your day?
Last week I was stuck on my front porch for a couple of minutes waiting for one of my housemates to come and open the front door. As I was looking around I saw that our house number was nailed onto the top of the door frame. I’d never noticed it before! I should probably add at this point I have lived here for over five years and had been stood in that exact spot at some point during most of those 2000+ days since I moved in – either coming back from work, the gym, or a night out – and hadn’t even paid attention to it. How had I never noticed it before??
It may seem a small, minute and irrelevant detail, but in that moment it symbolised to me the bigger picture of how we can go about our days and not really be paying attention to what is around us. We notice and remember the big events – if our brain isn’t too fried by the time we go to bed – but not the little things.
But the little things, those little moments scattered throughout each day, are just as important as the big, it’s just normally we’re too busy rushing about to take notice of them when they are there. It’s as if we’re all in this constant rush to work towards this end goal of ‘happiness’, but as Roy Goodman so eloquently puts it;
‘Happiness is a way of travel, not a destination’
Last week was a case and point of this for me personally. On Thursday I spent the whole day at The Business Show at the Olympia and managed to hear a motivational speaker called Brad Burton, who was right up my street with sharp, to the point and no-nonsense advice, and ultimately reminding us that today, this day right now, is as important as our last, so why are we not making the most of it?
At the end of the event, and with his speech still whirling in my head, I rushed across to Covent Garden to pick up a necklace I had ordered and in my mind I was already planning ahead and thinking that ‘if I jump back on the train as quickly as possible I can get home before 7pm, eat dinner, do a bit of writing and then relax for a little while.’
But as I headed out of the main square I looked up the street and noticed just how beautifully lit it was by all of the Christmas lights. I took a picture of it to post on Instagram later as if to say ‘I really appreciate this moment’ – but in reality that wasn’t true as I wasn’t really even allowing myself that moment in its entirety as it didn’t really fit into my already planned schedule for my evening.
As I stood there admiring the street suddenly the words spoken by Brad earlier in the day popped back into my head.
‘This day here, today, is as important as your last!’
(If I’m honest my head seemed to say it in more of a Darth Vadar voice to really make it hit home because I like to be dramatic like that at times).
But it is true! This day, here today, is is as important as any other! In that case, why am I rushing around needlessly and letting everything around pass me by in a daze?? I feel I need to add here that rushing around at a ridiculous rate is a thing people who live in London can’t seem to help doing. It’s as if as soon as we get within Zone 3 we suddenly have to walk at three times the pace of everyone else in the rest of the country.
In a recent post of I wish I could…but I just don’t have the time… I discussed the importance of really making the most of your days, but we also need to make sure we don’t swing too much that way for extended periods of time either to where we end up burning ourselves out. We need to notice when to slow down too, and it’s really important that we find that balance.
So with Brad’s words ringing in my ears I made a decision at that very moment:
‘I’m not going to speed walk back to Covent Garden station, I want to take in those Christmas lights for a little bit longer,’ and so I decided to walk over to Leicester Square instead, and not just walk but amble. I had to consciously think about slowing myself down mid-stride.
As I wandered along King Street I took my headphones out and listened to conversations of tourists all around me, some who were completely lost not being able to make head or tale of their pocket sized underground map, whilst others were trying to work out which of the fifty over-priced restaurants within a twenty metre radius they wanted to eat in, and spend twenty quid each on a hamburger. As I was walking I also kept looking up and noticing the top of the buildings and the amazing architecture and history that London is blessed with on pretty much every street.
I just took the time to take in the world around me, just for a few minutes, and reaching the underground station a complete Forrest Gump moment overcame me, I just had a real urge to keep going and walking – although hopefully I wouldn’t walk for that long that I start to grow a beard!
It was at this point that I slipped into my old habit within a millisecond without even noticing. I was stood on the traffic island in the middle of the road waiting for the lights to change (which would have taken about ten more measly seconds) and had gone into London autopilot mode, watching the endless amount of traffic whizzing past me whilst at the same time trying to judge the gaps between the cars so I could dart across to the other side as quickly as possible. There is no time to wait for the green man in this city!
Just four minutes earlier I had made the conscious decision to slow myself down and here my habit of rushing everywhere had taken over again without me realising!
Those few seconds were a good reminder of just how hard it can be to break a habit when you’re so used to doing something a particular way for so long, even if you want to change it. It’s a reminder that if you want to make lasting change then you have to consciously pay attention to what you are doing for a good long while, to make sure you don’t slip back into your old ways.
Once I have crossed the road I take a left towards Leicester Square and I stumble across the premiere for Daddy’s Home 2, with Mel Gibson, Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg and John Lithgow all walking the red carpet!
Okay okay so I didn’t actually get to see them walking it in person, buuuut I was right behind a big covered barrier right next to the other side of where they were walking, so in essence I was only about five metres away, and their walks were being projected on to the big screens right above me. So in my head that’s almost the same thing as seeing them with my own eyes.
I had never been at a film premiere before (although technically I still haven’t been to one, I was on the outskirts of it), but nevertheless, if I hadn’t decided to do my little spontaneous detour this little bonus to my evening of me getting to experience this would never have happened!
1. Concentrate on taking in the world – Slow yourself down now and again, take your headphones out of your ears from time to time, look up from your phone as you are walking along, walk down a different road on your way to work.
2. Say yes to more of those little things that make you happy and smile – the children asking for ‘just one more’ piggy back ride, enjoying one last dance in the bar and going all out before you call it a night, order that piece of cheesecake and enjoy it on your cheat day.
3. Remind yourself regularly that although you are striving for things that bring happiness later in life, it’s also all of the little moments combined where happiness is found too, and to be conscious about making an effort to continuously recognise them.
Thanks for reading,