On the side of the road he sees a woman’s tennis shoe filled with leaves and it fills him with inexplicable sadness. He walks down a side street and sees striking colors in the faces of the people around him. Details in these beautiful brick walls and weeds that he must have passed every day, but never noticed. The air smells different … and the sun warms his face and the world is clumsy and beautiful and new.
And it’s as though he’s been sleepwalking for god knows how long. Something has violently shaken him awake. His bathmats are gorgeous. The grain in his cheap wood cabinets vibrate something deep within him. He’s fascinated by how his paper towel drinks up water. He’s never really appreciated these things. All this detail… he’s never noticed. He’s alive. He’s alive. He’s alive.
– “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” by Don Hertzfeldt
People never cease to look for a specific purpose in life and human existence. Unfortunately life, at least the biological aspect of it, does not have a higher aim or spiritual purpose. The goal of all living things is to simply keep existing – to survive and to procreate.
However, a crucial fact distinguishes humans from the rest of all living species. We are self aware. We are capable of projecting more complex emotions than the mere instinct for survival. Our experience on this planet is unique – we have the ability, the option, to appreciate everything. To revere everything.
1. Be amazed by everything
Mindfulness, meditation and reflection can help us focus on the amazing detail around us. All these things that came from somewhere – the molecules, atoms, and living cells; the everyday object we sit on; the things we treasure; the things we throw away; the things we can observe and the things we can feel – they are all moving pieces of art, crafted by nature through millions of years and reassembled through the creativity of people.
2. Appreciate what you have
The modern developed world is gradually easing into a new struggle – how to increase the content and the individuality of peoples lives. Surely enough, we are presented with a cornucopia of produce to satisfy every taste and need. We are left to navigate in abundance, using subjective adverts and shifting fads as signposts. It is increasingly difficult to find what we need, and what really makes us happy.
The ideal would be to own nothing that you don’t find useful or don’t believe to be beautiful – the core of a minimalist mindset. Becoming surrounded by things that you find valuable can make you feel grateful. It clarifies your priorities, and focuses you on more important things than mindless materialism.
3. Embrace being alone
Sometimes you find yourself sitting alone in a room, in the midst of a mundane experience.
You could be quietly drinking tea and looking out the window. The view you have seen a hundred times, the tea you drink nearly every day, the position of your elbows against the table – their unexciting familiarity create your loneliness into a blanket of peace and comfort. No one else would suit this moment as well as you, since it is you who created it. In its simplicity, your moment is beautiful.
The Japanese word yojo encapsulates this feeling of tranquil loneliness – a sadness caused by the beauty of quiet solitude. People are often scared of feeling alone, and fill this void with any possible form of social media interaction. Befriending loneliness and feeling comfortable in it can significantly increase your sense of self worth and confidence.
4. Escape the comparison game
Finding meaningful content from an endless stream of everyday moments is challenging. And like any other challenge in society, it becomes a competition.
Moments are carefully cherry-picked, edited and embellished to others. They are projected to our Twitter and Instagram followers, to the collection of hundreds of ‘friends’ on our Facebook page from whom we expect to receive praise and acceptance. We skim through space and time, trying to find digitized evidence of moments that could be perceived as exhilarating or happy by others. Eventually a skydiving selfie complete with neon lighted rabbit onesies in the South Asian seaside doesn’t gain nearly enough ‘likes’.
People will always appear happier when you are looking through the key hole of a dollhouse. Instead of trying to impress them, it is more rewarding to find ways to impress yourself. The sooner you stop comparing your life to others, the sooner you can focus on your goals and your passions. You become free to implement the unique tools inside your mind.
With them, you can do truly amazing things.