Thursday 6 November 2014

Little Victories

Yesterday morning I woke early, yawned profusely, and went downstairs to make myself a cup of coffee. I flicked on the kettle then jumped at the discovery of a giant bumblebee sat on my windowsill. 

I leaned in, unable to tell if it was alive or dead. 

I blew a little air on it and its feelers gave a little twitch in response.

It was nearly November - I probably hadn't seen a bee since about April - and with the invading chill from outside, it had most likely crept inside for a little warmth and shelter before it died. I felt my brow furrow in sadness.

So I quickly grabbed a spoon, dotted a little speck on honey onto it, and placed it as near as I could do the little guy without touching it. It's little feelers began to twitch faster and slowly it waddled onto the spoon and stuck its little tongue into the golden pool.

I smiled and leaned in to take a picture, and as I did he stuck his little leg up as if to say thanks.

After about ten minutes he stepped back off the spoon to clean his little legs, then launched up into the air with a satisfied buzz. I opened the window behind him and after some mandatory face-slamming into the other closed window, he buzzed off merrily out the window and into the world. 

And I can't explain it, it just made me the happiest girl on earth. 

But a few moments later I knocked over my cup of coffee on the counter top and it spilled all down me, that fleeting innocent happiness vanished instantly from my mind, and my day set off to a terrible start. 

It's funny phenomenon, isn't it?

It's an unfortunate trait of the human condition that regardless of however many sweet little smile-makers we encounter through the day, one tiny little bad thing has the unfortunate ability to completely lay waste to them all.

Why is that we attribute so much weight and power to negative things, that we allow them to completely overshadow the almost weightlessness we attribute to the positive?

It's a sad fact that's true for most of us, and I think any person who receives 30 compliments on their new haircut will completely forget how good that made them feel when that one person inevitably says they preferred how it looked before.

Perhaps it's the way our minds are programmed, maybe it's just the social media-infused world we live in where everything is either extreme love or extreme hate - all I know is I'm as guilty of this as any.

But I don't want to think this way.

And however innate it may seem, I'm firm in the belief we are able to manipulate our own perspectives, and we can consciously choose to change the way we think.

And so for one week, I made a note of every single little moment, big or small, that made me happy, so when something inevitably went wrong, I could look back and appreciate how important that bad thing really was, in comparison to the good.

I call them 'Little Victories'

And here are a few things that made me smile this week:

- As I walked along the length of Farringdon train station after a long and exhausting trip running errands carrying my weight in bags and parcels, I looked up from my phone to see a flurry of creamy pink petals caught in the breeze, dancing through the late afternoon light which peeked around the side of the station in a golden beacon.

- I was sat in a coffee shop jotting down some plans in a notepad, when I looked up to catch a young boy of about 8 holding open the door for his heavily pregnant mother and his two little sisters - identical twins who wore the exact same yellow cardigan over grey pinafore, and red bows in their long brunette hair.

- After waiting outside in the freezing cold for about 40 minutes for a very late someone, a woman with big bright eyes and ringlet curls approached me and introduced herself as working for a local media agency who were scouting for extras for a music video, asked if I'd be interested and gave me her card.

- As I left my house for work, I found the most beautiful black and white cat sat on my doorstep. New to the area I had no idea who the cat belonged to, but when I reached down to give it a pet, it rolled over on it's back to reveal the most perfect markings which made it look like it was wearing a tuxedo. It was also possibly the most affectionate cat I've ever encountered and followed me at my feet all the way down the road.

- Riding a packed commuter underground train through Central London, the blustering breeze from the window vent at the end of the carriage sent one man's hat flying off his head and down the carriage. Unable to move in the rush hour cram to go and retrieve it, a woman picked up the hat and the rest of the carriage played 'pass-the-parcel' to get it back to him.

- As I waited outside my friend's block of flats for him to answer the buzzer, I glanced up across the little cream-lit windows of the block to see in one, a man and a woman, each armed with a guitar, sat intimately facing each other, both singing.

And the wonderful thing I found, was what first became a conscious effort to focus on the small, happy positive things in life, soon blossomed into an automatic recognition and appreciation of life overall.

At times the world may seem a dark and unforgiving place, and often really feel like everything is against you, but if you take a moment to stop and realise the Little Victories of life, I really don't think it's all that bad after all.