‘Be quiet and stand still.’*
(Maggie Berg and Barbara Seeber)
When we say thank you for something we’re noticing it and we will notice it again. Gratitude matters for the future.
Instead of keeping moving, we pause, and in pausing we allow something not only to register in our head but also to move something to our heart. This is important when it comes to its usefulness. But I am not only thinking about usefulness and efficiency and functionality.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about the experiences of life:
‘There are two main strategies we can adopt to improve the quality of life. The first is to try making external conditions match our goals. The second is to change how we experience external condition to make them fit our goals better.’**
This is an interesting note for how gratitude alters perspective and perception: gratitude in the basic things of life but also the more significant. Csikszentmihalyi goes on to differentiate between those things that give us pleasure and enjoyment:
‘Pleasure is an important component of the quality of life, but by itself it does not bring happiness. Sleep, rest, food, and sex produce restorative homeostatic experiences that return consciousness to order after the needs of the body intrude and cause psychic entropy to occur. But they do not add complexity to the self. pleasure helps to maintain order, but by itself cannot create new order in consciousness.’**
These things help us to feel restored but not to thrive. On the other hand:
‘Enjoyment is characterised by this forward movement: by a sense of novelty, of accomplishment. […] After an enjoyable event we know we have changed, that our self has grown: in some respect, we have become more complex as a result of it.’**
The warning here, then, is not simply to focus on pleasure because it will never move us forward into personal complexity – no matter what the adverts tell us.
Chip and Dan Heath, in their exploration of the power of moments, write about how:
‘Peaks spice up our experience.’^
Peaks are the things that stand out for us and are memorable within an experience. Their advice in this direction?:
‘Just by disrupting routines, we can create more peaks.’^
Ursula Le Guin writes about how our imaginations need disruption too – we’re thinking about how we can notice more, be grateful for this, and use these things to create our future:
‘The imagination, like any basic human capacity, needs exercise, discipline, training, in childhood and lifelong.’^^
We’re moving. Notice, be grateful, store, use in the future.