December 3, 2022

Take Note of the Good Times, With Help From Kurt Vonnegut

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I had an excellent uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was my daddys kid brother, a childless graduate of Harvard who was an honest life-insurance salesperson in Indianapolis. He was wise and well-read. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom discovered it when they mored than happy. When we were consuming lemonade under an apple tree in the summer season, state, and talking slackly about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would all of a sudden disrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isnt great, I do not understand what is.”.
I do the same now, and so do my grandkids and kids. And I prompt you to please notification when you are delighted, and exclaim or whispering or believe at some time, If this isnt good, I do not know what is.

I encountered it through a 2016 post on Elephant Journal, a website committed to “conscious living,” in which writer Stephen Moegling highlights a passage from Vonneguts 2005 essay collection A Man Without a Country, keeping in mind that it altered his believing about how to increase his own happiness. A fast google of the quote exposed that it has actually likewise motivated lots of others, so– throughout Lifehackers Happier Week, and certainly throughout among the worst years the world has actually endured in a long period of time– I believed it made sense to share it with you.
It comes amidst a passage in which Vonnegut is communicating a bit of life suggestions he received from his Uncle Alex:.

Happier WeekHappier WeekIt can be difficult to be genuinely happy recently, so were bringing you simple enjoyments and tiny hacks to make your days brighter. Today, were all about being simply a little better.

Picture: alinabuphoto (Shutterstock).

Notification when you more than happy. Its an unbelievably basic concept, almost insultingly so: What good does noticing moring than happy do you when you are pointedly dissatisfied? But … think of how much time you spend concentrating on how dissatisfied you are. Think of how pleasing it is to wallow in a tiff, to bitch about the boss with your colleagues. To take your anger at the injustices of the world out on your kids, who have nothing to do with it, even if they are being so bothersome.
I can consider 5 examples in the last day in which I focused my mental energy on thinking of being unhappy. I can consider no circumstances where I took and stopped stock of the opposite, of all the great moments that still fill my days, even throughout this hellish and uncertain year. My daughters newfound fixation with crossing her eyes and making funny faces. My son hilariously asking Alexa to play age-inappropriate songs. Snuggling on the couch next to my better half to read after the kids have finally fallen asleep after the evening routine of bickering and bargaining.
Possibly if I make it a routine of noticing these ordinary, splendid moments in the moment, I could go to sleep and wake energized by the possibilities for joy tomorrow will bring, instead of welcoming every day with my own darkly comic refrain: “Oh, this again.” Possibly you can too.

Theres a Kurt Vonnegut quote Ive been leaning on a lot in 2020, taken from his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five, that unusual sci-fi time journey that mixes the genuine and the fantastical in a story struggling to contextualize the surreality of the authors experiences experiencing the firebombing of Dresden, Germany throughout World War II. As the lead character bounces through time and across the galaxy, coming across man-made grief and extraterrestrial beings, the phrase “So it goes” ends up being a sort of darkly comic refrain, a shift in between one mysterious, chaotic moment and the next (or the previous– time travel humor!).

Its exceptionally apt expression for this year, but today I discovered that I may improve my outlook on the future (presently: bad) if I attempted to live by another bon mot from the late author of classics like Cats Cradle and The Sirens of Titan.

And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were pleased. Its an unbelievably easy idea, nearly insultingly so: What good does noticing being happy do you when you are specifically unhappy? … think about how much time you invest focusing on how unhappy you are. I can believe of five examples in the last day in which I focused my psychological energy on thinking about being unhappy. I can think of no circumstances where I took and stopped stock of the opposite, of all the excellent moments that still fill my days, even during this hellish and unpredictable year.