When you’re paying attention to something, you start noticing it everywhere.
I’ve been thinking about heroism lately. The obvious heroes save or protect people despite personal risk, such as firefighters, police and security people. Others who likely never expected to be called to such action rise in a moment of need, such as Alabama school bus driver Charles Poland, who was shot and killed last week while trying to protect students from the gunman.
There are many everyday, quieter heroes. My friend who takes care of her mother as her needs increase due to dementia. Parents who set aside their own needs to respond to their ill children. People who behave ethically when nobody’s watching and it would be easier to not follow the rules. Individuals and groups who work to improve their community and the world.
Any of us can be a hero. Be inspired by the great work and the opportunities around you. Don’t wait for a burning building or until you’ve figured out how to do something “just right.” Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (a proverb commonly attributed to Voltaire).
Life is a series of small moments. Don’t miss them in a rush to focus on the Next Big Thing you think you have to do. (I’m as guilty as anyone. My “to do” list is way too long.)
I’m so glad that a friend shared on Facebook this sweet and sad essay about an elderly woman’s last taxi ride:
I like its lesson:
We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.
But great moments often catch us unaware — beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
This stuff makes sense, and it’s backed by scientific research.
Six habits that help people cultivate happiness in their lives:
- Pay attention.
- Keep friends close.
- Drop grudges.
- Get moving.
- Practice kindness.
- (No surprise!) Give thanks.
Thanks to First Unitarian Church of Rochester for sharing that link from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, http://greatergood.berkeley.edu. The center sponsors groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being and helps people apply this research to their personal and professional lives.
I haven’t yet read The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky, a “positivity psychologist” and professor of psychology at University of California.
But based on Jacob Sokol’s great blog post about it — http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/08/30/12-things-happy-people-do-differently — I can tell I’d like it. The psychologist lays out 12 ways to increase happiness in your daily life. They ring true for me, including:
- Appreciating what you have makes your life happier.
- See the endless opportunities around you, even in bad times.
- Be kind to others, and you’ll feel good.
- When life takes a bad turn, you have choices about how you react.
- Cultivate opportunities to be so immersed in what you’re doing that time stands still. The psychologist calls these “flow experiences.”
- Be physically healthy. Exercise is equivalent to Zoloft (the prescription antidepressant) in making people happier.