Pay Attention to the Good Times With Kurt Vonnegut

There is a quote from Kurt Vonnegut that I often relied on in 2020, taken from his 1969 novel Slaughterhouse 5 , this strange sci-fi time travel that combines the real and the fantastic with a story that struggles to contextualize surrealism. the author. Experience of observing the bombing of Dresden, Germany, during the Second World War. As the protagonist flies through the galaxy, facing artificial sadness and extraterrestrial beings, the phrase “So it goes” becomes a kind of dark comic chorus, a transition from one inexplicable chaotic moment to the next (or the previous one – humor about time travel !).

It is incredibly pertinent phrase for this year, but today I found out that I can improve my vision of the future (currently: bad), if I try to live by using another bonus from the late author of classic works, such as “Cat’s Cradle” and ” Sirens of Titan “ .

I ran into this in a 2016 publication in the Elephant Journal , a website dedicated to “living in awareness,” in which writer Stephen Mogling highlights an excerpt from Vonnegut’s 2005 collection of essays, A Man Without a Country, noting that it changed his view of how to increase his own happiness. A quick Google search for the quote revealed that she also inspired many others , so – during Lifehacker’s Happier Week and of course one of the worst years the world has gone through in a long time – I thought it would make sense to share this with you. … This comes against the background of a passage in which Vonnegut conveys a little life advice he received from his uncle Alex:

But I had a good uncle, my late uncle Alex. He was my father’s younger brother, a childless Harvard graduate who was an honest insurance salesman in Indianapolis. He was well-read and wise. And his main complaint about other people was that they so rarely noticed when they were happy. So, when in the summer, say, we drank lemonade under an apple tree and lazily chatted about this and that, almost buzzing like bees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the pleasant chatter and exclaim: “If this is not good, I will not.” I don’t know what it is. So I am doing the same now, and so are my children and grandchildren. And I urge you to notice when you are happy, exclaim, mumble or think at some point: “If this is unpleasant, I do not know what it is.”

Pay attention when you are happy. This is a ridiculously simple idea, almost offensive: what good is it to notice that you are happy when you are clearly unhappy? But … think how much time you spend thinking about how unhappy you are. Think about how nice it is to wallow in a bad mood and be bored with your boss and colleagues. To accept your anger at the injustice of the world on your children that have nothing to do with it, even if they may be so annoying. I can think of five examples from the last day where I focused my mental energy on thinking about being unhappy. I cannot remember a single time when I stopped and judged the opposite, of all the good moments that still fill my days, even in this hellish and uncertain year. My daughter’s new obsession with squinting and making faces. My son cheerfully asked Alexa to play inappropriate songs. Curled up on the couch next to my wife to read after the children finally fell asleep after the evening quarrels and bargains. Noticing happiness when it comes is part of the practice of mindfulness and not too far from the idea of ​​reinforcing your goals and improving your outlook with positive affirmations ; Both of these methods are general therapeutic methods. Perhaps if I get into the habit of noticing the mundane, wonderful, everyday moments in the moment , I can go to bed, charged with the possibilities for the happiness that tomorrow brings, instead of greeting every indistinguishable day of the pandemic with my own dark comic chorus: “Oh, it again. “Perhaps you can too.


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