As I write this first sentence I sit with ambient light and matching ambient music sipping an iced latte with almond milk. I’m thinking of the simple things. I recently asked strangers on UF’s campus what’s something simple that makes them smile. They said waking up, the sun, flowers, other people smiling, and even olive oil. They remembered the simple things.
The same day I asked different people what the highlight of their day was. They said eating lunch with friends, meeting a kind professor, people buying pumpkin bread, and eating an everything breakfast bagel for breakfast. It was the simple things. But the simple things are often the most overlooked in the moment.
On almost any good memory I look back on I realize it isn’t an extravagant event or some super rare occurrence, it’s usually the simple things. Almost every memory feels better to look back on than how it felt at the moment. It’s because of the simple things. In hindsight, I can recognize the simple things and appreciate them. But in the present moment, they become easy to forget.
Part of it is trying to beat disappointment to the punch. When living in a good moment we put up a wall that distances us from being fully present in the experience. We have past experiences, trauma, and fear that make it hard to embody the moment. It’s almost like we’re afraid of hurting ourselves so we get there before the pain can. We let our anticipation take over. Another part of it is our perspective. It’s being present at the moment.
When I’m able to notice my breathing, appreciate my fingers typing these words, appreciate the now, and sit here in my mind and think “I’m here,” that’s when I enjoy the simple things. I enjoy the simple things when I put them in my headspace and make them known. This is why gratitude journaling is powerful.
When I think of something new to be grateful for every day I remind myself of the simple things. When I detail specifically why I’m grateful, it unlocks a special part of my mind. I find out reasons to be grateful for things I never thought about before.
I once approached a girl I didn't know on the UF campus and asked to lay with her in the grass. She agreed and we lay next to each other for nearly an hour. We both opened up and both shared intricate sides of us. In hindsight, I see the simple things so clearly that I missed in the moment. The fact of laying down with a total stranger and having such a good conversation is what I see now.
She showed me a side of her that she doesn’t express enough, her creative side. She showed me some of her drawings and some of the creative things she likes to do. At the moment I appreciated it, but in hindsight I adore it.
I’ve realized the feelings in the present become amplified when they turn to memories. With memories, there is no risk. You don’t get hurt, you won’t mess things up, it’s already happened. But at the moment we self-sabotage the good, simple moments. We’re so stuck in our heads at the moment and these thoughts take over the ones that matter. We forget about the present moment and end up swimming in our pool of thoughts.
We come across another fish that asks "how's the water?" and we reply, "what the hell is water?" We get lost in the ocean of our minds, and sometimes we get so used to living this way we don’t even realize it. But with memories, there is nothing to worry about. You can feel free to enjoy the little things.
But what if we let go of these self-sabotaging habits in our minds? Then you see your mind talking and you can realize that you don’t have to be so attached to it. It’s not about making the thoughts go away, it’s about sitting behind their presence. Then you can look around you and notice the simple things.
Close your eyes and listen to the ambiance. Pay attention to what you hear. Repeat in your mind "hello" "hello" "hello" until you hear the voice talking. Now just listen. Now you notice what didn't before, and you didn’t realize that until now. You are now in the moment. Finally, you know what water is.
- Stain (co-founder)