Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Don't worry, be happy!

Well... despite me having the best of intentions of a new start on this blog to go with the new year, here we are at the end of March and this is the first blog posting I’ve actually completed. I’ve started writing a number of times, but hadn’t so far actually got anything to the point that I’d be comfortable with other people reading it...

Anyways, best not to dwell on my failings as a writer, and instead move onwards and upwards... to quote Buzz Lightyear... “To infinity and beyond!!!”

A couple of things recently have got me thinking about the role of milestones in tracking our movement through life, and from that going on to what these milestones really mean when you start thinking about them in more detail.

The first of these is my ‘baby’ brother turning 18 (I can call him my baby brother because I know there’s bugger all risk of him every reading this!). I think this is a change that’s as shocking for anyone who’s known me a while as it is for me. We all have this image of him when he was about knee height, and are struggling to accept the fact he’s grown up. With that said however, the reality is that he’s finished school, taken his first job and is fast moving towards becoming a productive member of society.

BUT... despite all this, in what way is he any different today to what he’ll be on his birthday tomorrow? I’ll point out here that I’m well aware that turning 18 will mean he can legally purchase alcohol, but based on my experiences at that age, and the few stories he’s let slip, I don’t think this is much of an issue...

The second one is that my girlfriend is in the process of moving into my place. Symbolically this is a very big step in our relationship (up there with going Facebook-official). Thinking about it in more detail though, it won’t actually be too different to how we’ve been living for a while now (apart from reducing her cupboard space significantly – sorry babe!).

Why do these stand out for me you might be asking? Mainly because they are ‘milestones’ that are seen as highly significant steps by society, but won’t in either case actually mean much in the way of real change for the people experiencing them. These are two examples that I was very easily able to pull off the top of my head, but I (and I’m sure each of you), could easily come up with plenty more. Each of these is guaranteed to incite a response from those around you, but when you think about it, they don’t by themselves change who you are, how you feel, what you do...
At this point, you’re probably asking, what’s my big message today?

Society is built on the premise that we are constantly working towards ‘goals’ or ‘achievements’, and it often feels like we need to reach these to be able to celebrate or acknowledge that we have 'changed'. While this is valid, the problem for me is that it often feels like it is being taken to the point that we forget to celebrate the ‘everyday’.

I think it would be nice to spend more time recognising how far we’ve come or how well we’re going (even if no one else seems to be paying attention). Yes, there will be times where there’s a big obvious improvement that can be celebrated, but we shouldn’t need this to validate ourselves or prove that we are successful/happy/insert preferred emotion!

In the immortal words of Bobby McFerrin, “Don’t worry, be happy”.

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