I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard or read the phrase, “Enjoy The Simple Things in Life.”
If I’m being completely honest, the concept sounds fantastic in principle, but I’ve never really been entirely sure how to achieve this.
You see, I have this habit of complicating matters, putting undue pressure on myself.
And I mean putting pressure on myself with even the most mundane of tasks like dusting the front room for example.
I’ve even been known to over complicate things that I enjoy doing, such as working out.
My mind is a troublesome and perplexing enigma, and sometimes I wish it would just leave me alone.
However, there’s been a strange occurrence in the old gray matter over the past couple of mornings and I think I may finally understand what it means to enjoy the simple things in life.
It Started With A Walk
One of the main things you typically hear about trying to be happy is that it’s important to exercise.
The release of feel-good factors during exercise is well-documented.
I’m talking endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.
Okay, admittedly none of these things mean a lot to me, but I understand that exercising gives me a natural high.
At the time of writing we are slowly but surely coming out of lockdown in London and I was overjoyed to hear that gyms will be opening again on Saturday 25th July 2020.
I’m so looking forward to that first session on Saturday even though I know by Sunday morning I’ll be walking around like I’ve pooped my pants and will probably not be able to lift my arms above my head.
Oh the joy of “almost” being a newbie gym goer again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve exercised daily in the past 4 months of lockdown. It’s my thing. I can’t do without it.
But, a 16kg kettlebell, a 20kg sandbag, some sprints, some running, countless push-ups and pull ups will only go so far when you are a self-confessed gym-junkie.
So, in anticipation of the wondrous forthcoming event this Saturday, I decided to go for a walk instead yesterday morning (well that was an anti-climax).
I’ve always enjoyed walking and generally get in about 20-30 miles of walking a week (in addition to the gym sessions).
However, having taken lockdown extremely seriously, I’ve hardly ventured out of the house in a number of months.
Well that’s not strictly true, although my sprinting and running (and the very occasional walk) was typically done at 6am when there were literally only a handful of people around.
Anyway, I digress (I am going to take a guess and say that those 3 words are going to be the most frequently uttered words on this website. In fact, I wonder if I can get ranked in the search engines for those 3 words? Well you can only ask, can’t you? “Dear Google, please rank me on page 1, position 1 for the phrase – Anyway I digress – thank you.”)
I’ve done it again, haven’t I?
Okay, back to the point of the story.
So, as I was saying, Monday morning (yesterday) I decided to go for a walk.
The sun was out, but it was a very comfortable 16C (61F), and therefore perfect for strolling for a few miles.
I followed a route which took me past my old Primary School and through the park I played in throughout my childhood.
Okay not much to look at here, but this is the scene of one of my greatest victories.
I’m not entirely sure how old I was, but I’m guessing about 11.
We were in a heated battle, 3 against 3, the cricket match of our lives.
There was 1 ball left in this over and we needed 2 runs.
There was still an over to go afterwards, but it was their best player to bowl that one.
He had built up a head of steam and was roaring in from the railway track end (yes, there’s a railway track behind me) and he made Brett Lee look like a part-time Sunday league spin bowler.
I couldn’t face 6 balls from him without having my stumps splayed all over the place.
So, as their “not so good” bowler (well he was about 8-years old at best) came in to bowl the last ball of his over I could feel the nerves building up inside.
He bowled a long-hop, it bounced mid-pitch, I waited for about 97 minutes for that flat tennis ball to bounce another 3 times before it reached me.
I swivelled my hips Viv Richards-esque and smashed the ball for 4.
I’m sorry, I’m not entirely sure what happened there.
I appear to have got caught up in a bit of daydreaming here and I’m pretty sure at least 70% of my readership have absolutely no idea what I’m even going on about.
I could have been reciting War and Peace backwards in Bengali for all you know.
But, my point, and there is a point – this short trip down memory lane while strolling through the park – well remember – enjoy the simple things in life.
And there’s more (but no more cricket stories from my youth I promise).
Okay, one final bit of cricket. For those who don’t know Sir Vivian Richards, shame on you.
Time For A Coffee
After just over 6 miles (around 10km to those who have no idea what 6 and a bit miles are) I decided to stop off at the local Costa Coffee (not a Starbucks fan I’m afraid).
Yay! The coffee shops are finally open.
I ordered a large coconut latte (no, I’m not some new-fangled, modern, overly health-conscious moron. My profuse apologies to any “new-fangled, modern, overly health-conscious moron’s” reading this. But, you probably don’t want to know what milk does to my insides).
I went outside, sat in the sun (the temperature had now risen to a mind boggling 22C or 72F, well this is London and we’ll take whatever’s on offer, and decided to read a few personal development articles, like you do.
Once again, I felt this joyous wave of happiness and contentment wash over me as I sat there. It had been many months since I had just sat outside the coffee shop, read an article or two, slurped my coffee, and people watched (I love people watching, but don’t we all?)
As I sat there with a warm smile on my face I was once again reminded – “enjoy the simple things in life”.
What Did I Read?
The first article I read was 6 Positive Mental Health Takeaways From Staying Home.
Point number 5, “Learn more about your family” jumped off the page (smartphone) and smacked me right between the eyes.
In a way I’m glad that my late mother and father weren’t here to experience lockdown and the terrible covid-19 onslaught we have suffered over the past few months.
Life was a struggle for them both for a number of years prior to their passing. And they both would definitely have been in the firing line if they were still alive. Heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems between the two of them – 2020 would have been a real struggle.
However, reading the article above and especially the point of learning more about your family, I decided to ring one of their oldest friends there-and-then.
There’s a couple who live in Glasgow and they had known my parents for over 50 years. I knew they were currently going through their own struggles – the husband is suffering terribly with Alzheimer’s and is completely housebound, while his wife has become his full-time carer.
It had been a couple of months since I’d spoken to her, for which I felt bad, but I didn’t want to appear to be a burden and constantly hassle her, although one phone call every couple of weeks couldn’t have done any harm.
As it turns out, she was extremely grateful for the call, and I was highly appreciative of it too.
We obviously discussed the difficulties she’s currently facing with her husband. The fact that he now has no idea who she is, the constant coming and goings of healthcare workers (Thank You NHS), plus she hasn’t left the house herself in months.
We then shared a couple of stories, spoke about old times, and I even discovered something about my father I had never previously known.
After around 30 minutes we said our goodbyes, and I promised I’d call again very, very soon.
Yet again, that warm feeling came over me (not the sun) and I felt really good inside.
You know exactly what I’m going to say:
“Enjoy The Simple Things in Life”
Why-oh-why do I have to try to complicate being content and happy?
A walk in the park and a trip down memory lane.
Sitting in the sun, sipping coffee, reading, and watching the world go by.
A chat with an old family friend.
It really is as simple as that.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who is forever chasing happiness. Expecting to attain some godly-like nirvana.
However, as it turns out, sometimes life’s simple pleasures are all you need.
Thank you for reading.