The United States, among other countries, has developed a toxic work environment revolved around too many hours and unnecessary stress. It has become engrained in the culture and some people even brag about their lack of sleep or the 80-hour weeks. One of the biggest problems with this type of mindset, though, is the effect on how people see the world.
There isn’t anything outright wrong with working a lot or holding stress, especially if you enjoy it. What is objectively bad is when this stress impacts the way in which you see the beauty around us.
Albert Einstein, considered one of the smartest men ever, once said, “If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” Einstein, who understood the physical make-up of the world as well as anyone, frequently shared his admiration for our planet’s structure and beauty.
The world consists of beautiful nature, art, food and a host of other things.There is so much to appreciate and experience. Those that are able to take a step back and recognize the enormity around them are both more inspired and humbled. Being able to do so gives people more energy and increases the vividness with which they see the world.
The trick, like many tricks, is harder in practice than in theory. It is to pay more attention to your surroundings. Soak up the sunsets, the expertly cooked meals, and the serenity. Also, continue to explore the world around you. Here are 6 things that you can learn about that will improve your appreciation for the outside world, which will, in turn, make you happier and more productive:
We eat 2-3 meals a day for our entire lives. There, of course, will be times when you are in a rush and just need the sustenance. When you can, though, appreciating food is a great way to add to life.
It will make each meal better and will develop your food palette so that you can appreciate more flavors and combinations.
The best way to do this is to learn more about food. Even a book talking about our palette and the impact of different flavors will set you in the right direction. Pay attention during meals and really focus on the food as you eat it.
People that love food, even in times of deep stress, are able to use a meal to recharge. They are able to enjoy the host of flavors and deeply enjoy their plate. This is instead of scarfing it down with their mind completely occupied with other things.
It sounds odd at first glance, but even a rudimentary understanding of architecture and buildings will give you a deeper appreciation for them.
Most of us are normalized given the number of buildings that we see on a daily basis. In reality, though, each one took a significant amount of time and energy to build. This is especially the case for the large and exquisite ones.
Having a baseline understanding of architecture will leave you appreciating the structures around you as you go through daily life. This is especially valuable when you are in big cities and traveling through Europe or parts of the Middle East that have beautiful constructions.
You do not have to be a physicist to appreciate the advances that society is making in all fields of science.
The word science is intentionally broad because there are so many scientific areas that you could appreciate about our world. Those that understand chemistry appreciate the ways that atoms form together to create the planet we have. People with a physics background can appreciate the laws that govern nature. Geologists appreciate rocks and their extensive history.
You could learn about as many of these topics as you would like. In doing so, you will see a rock not just for another silly rock. Instead, it will be an igneous rock that has formed over the course of thousands or millions of years.
4. The history of the planet.
History is an exceptionally broad term as well with many paths to explore.
What will add immediate vividness is understanding the history of our species. How did we become humans? How does evolution work? Why are societies shaped the way that they are today?
Books like Sapiens or Guns Germs and Steel can give you immediate deeper appreciation. Realizing the advances that society has made and where we stand in that change of sequences, now, is an overwhelming feeling. It gives you a different view of people and cultures, as we are a byproduct of thousands and thousands of years of change. Plus, it can help in your future decision-making. Framing your choices as a function of historical events and lessons learned in the past can be very useful.
Music, paintings, theatre, television. The list goes on and on. Learning more about these different forms of art will allow you to more deeply enjoy them in action. Understanding the complexity of a painting or the beautiful ways that a song meshes together add true vividness.
The best way to learn about these things is to spend time exploring them and asking questions along the way. You will begin to widen the breadth of your appreciative reach. Consequently, you will have more much fun going to a concert, visiting a museum, or even listening to Spotify and seeing some graffiti on the street.
6. The other (not so) little things.
There are so many other phenomena that we see and experience each day that we have been normalized to. Taking the time to stop and appreciate those things, that, in truth, are beautiful and complex is something our society does not do nearly enough.
Cars, for example, are so normal to us. 80 years ago, though, they were as foreign as virtual reality is today. The fact that a machine that small can safely house a family and drive 70 miles an hour, for hours on end, is an incredible feat.
Or, take the structure of cities. Someone decided to layout each city, with its neighborhoods, parks, and centers in a specific and, in many cases, thoughtful way. We rarely think about how easy it is for us to get from point A to B now, either. This is especially valuable since the emergence of Google Maps and Uber.
These little phenomena are everywhere around us. Taking the time to think about any one of them, especially if you learn its history, makes the way you see the world around you much more exciting.
Take a minute to breathe.
Appreciating the world around us ultimately requires taking the time out of your day to stop. Think about what is around you, the enormity of the planet, and how special it is that you get to be a part of it.
You can work crazy hours and take on stress, but life is too short to not also appreciate all of the beauty we are fortunate to have.