My last article, 3 Ways to be Ridiculously Happy, garnered me a bunch of emails and a couple of new subscribers. Thank you.
Of particular interest was how I managed to keep the box that held the _____s I had to give, empty for so long.
Let’s see the world through my eyes for a sec…
The earth is a tiny planet in a tiny star system in an unremarkable arm of an unremarkable galaxy in an unremarkable corner of a universe which by all accounts could be one universe of an infinite number of universes. By sheer probabilities alone, there may be billions of similar star systems with billions of planets in the Goldilocks Zone that teem with billions of forms of life, from single-cell bacterium to that ridiculous Psy person. There may be one creator, a whole bunch of creators or no creators at all. Everything may be part of a divine plan or everything could be free-wheeling about, guided by complex mathematical equations and as Richard Feynman states, ‘jiggly things’.
I am one of a 108 billion people estimated to have ever lived and died since H. sapiens sapiens (yes there are two sapiens) became a thing 200,000 years ago on a planet that’s been around for 6 billion years in a universe that’s been around for 14 billion. It took humanity over 75,000 years to figure out stuff tastes better cooked and another 65,000 years to write it down. Of the 108 billion people who have ever lived, each one of us can only name a handful that truly altered humanity. The rest, like me and likely you, will have come and gone and hopefully done a little more good than harm. (Actually, for most of human civilization, most people lived hand-to-mouth and doing good wasn’t actually a goal. Not getting shanked by your neighbour was, and hence the birth of tribal morality.)
Whatever feeling of absolute joy or crushing tragedy that I have experienced or will experience has happened or will happen to almost every other human alive. I’m not the first nor the last to experience anything. At this moment, an unnecessarily large percentage of the near 7 billion people alive right now are living in abject poverty and have never known a day without war, famine, and human trafficking. Each day, about 200,000 new people are born and most of them will be born into a life of hardship. And outside of a small handful of people, I don’t even exist. I am enormously insignificant and most of our worries and anxieties are enormously insignificant.
Your kitchen renovations didn’t turn out as planned? A child soldier was just killed in the Congo.
You didn’t get that promotion? A young girl in rural China is being lured into a life of prostitution right now.
You don’t like your co-worker? A man is currently rooting through a landfill in Guatemala to find plastic bottles to sell.
So back to how I keep my box of _____s empty.
Context. If you have health, you have everything. Most of us don’t have real problems. We just have sh_t that doesn’t go our way once in a while.
I’ve developed a knack to instantly put things in context and see almost every problem or concern as data points on a continuum of data points – subsets of larger whole. When you are able to stop seeing your own issues as the most important issues in the universe, you can see other people’s concerns with more clarity and more objectivity. And when you see other people with more clarity, you’ll very quickly figure out what’s real and what’s bullshit.
And you know what? Most problems have solutions that require work and effort but a lot of people don’t want to do the work or hear the solution because it takes away their opportunity to complain about it.
And I’ve got no ____s to give to people who nag.
Hence the empty box.