I am notoriously bad at keeping story ideas, one-liners, and half-written anecdotes everywhere. My desktop is a cluttered mess of digital and physical “sticky notes” with quotes and reminders. There is one sticky note that I created almost three years ago. It was to be the end all be all of notes.
I titled it “Rules to Live By” and was only going to make an addition when I felt like I had discovered some profound truth worth sharing with the world. It’s been years and only two things have made it onto the list.
Rules to Live By:
- Genuinely take interest in the lives of those around you.
- Fight science. Don't give in to adaption. Continue to see the things that once blew you away how you saw them the first time you looked at them.
First, and perhaps more importantly, genuinely take interest in the lives of those around you. There is no better way to care for a friend than to listen when their eyes light up, to see the heart they want to show you. It doesn’t matter if you think sports are dreadful. Ask them how their soccer game was. It doesn’t matter if music isn’t your thing. Listen to the song they keep raving about.
When it comes to matters of nonprofits and Kindness, I understandably geek out more than is necessary, but I will always remember the shared excitement of friends who, despite having different priorities, share my joy at something that matters to me.
Second, fight science. When I was completing my senior thesis for college, I spent a lot of time researching Happiness and Positive Psychology. One frequently discussed idea is the hedonic treadmill.
Defined by Google, the hedonic treadmill is the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of Happiness despite major positive (or negative) life events or changes. Basically – you get really excited about that new job. You think that new job is the best thing ever and you are so grateful and giddy to go to work. But after a while - weeks, months, years - the excitement fades away. You are no longer interested in the staff kickball team and the idea of walking into your office no longer feels like a blessing.
Like a treadmill, we keep running to catch up to the new best thing instead of realizing that a few years, months, or weeks ago, we were dreaming of being where we are now. The hedonic treadmill is a pretty natural phenomenon, but also something I became extremely aware of post-research.
Everyone is guilty of chasing rainbows, losing sight of what they once only dreamed of now that it is in their hands. It takes a lot to remind yourself of this. It takes a lot to fiht science. It takes a lot to look at something and remember that first spark of excitement that made you want it in the first place.
I’ve had this sticky note for years and have – to this day – never added another rule. I’m not promising it to be that simple, but I am wondering if my “rules” can be written a little more simply:
Rules to Live By:
- Be kind to others.
- Be grateful always.
^ Sedona, Arizona via #SmileProjectRoadTrip