I noticed this little girl the other day. She was surrounded by her family when she tripped and fell down. She didn’t cry though, at least not initially. It wasn’t until her dad asked her if she was okay that she burst into tears. There was a pause after she fell but before she started crying where she was thinking about how to feel. Even though she wasn’t hurt, she thought she had to cry because that was what made sense. In her mind she knew that falling was associated with crying. When her parents expressed concern, she knew that crying would lead to attention. This is pretty much a commonality among all children this age. My point in telling this story is that it shows how early we start getting these preconceived notions of how to feel and how to be.

It’s the same idea of going to the store not needing anything and ending up with a cart full of items that we convince ourselves that we need. Sometimes I spend a lot of time thinking about how I would be without the preconceived. I know it’s inevitable. We can’t live our lives without influences from other people or things. But sometimes I think the preconceived causes a lot of unhappiness. When we go shopping, for example, it is easy to become completely overwhelmed by the things we can’t afford. Or when we go to someone’s house and think ‘If only I had a house this nice, I would be happier.’ The ideal that happiness is related to possessions is so scarily easy to fall into.

A wise professor recently told me that everyone has blind spots. We all have bias in our lives, although it be unintentional. The key is acknowledging the blind spots and accepting them as a weakness in our judgement. If the acknowledgement part doesn’t happen, they are just spots. Think about that for a minute.

I think the key is to step back. Remove the comparisons from your life. Spend time in this beautiful world or with people who make talking easy or just quietly alone with your favorite book and a mug of coffee. Sometimes we need alone time to reflect and figure out who we are without anyone else.

I challenge you to make more moments and collect less things. Value the intangible experiences that you keep vividly repeating in your head in fear of forgetting the indescribable feelings brought on from this time in your life. Those memories you just want to keep in a tiny box that you can open them when you need a reminder of the goodness of humanity. Those moments when you can’t fathom or interpret what it is your’e experiencing, you just know that it’s the most amazing experience of your life. Collect new experiences. Learn new things, even when you’re old. Never stop having first times.

To end, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite song lyrics of all time, credible to the talented Jack Johnson:

featured image: Coast of Northern Ireland, 12/30/15

I wanna take the preconceived out from underneath your feet, we could shake it off, instead we’ll plant some seeds. We’ll watch em’ as they grow and with each new beat from your heart the roots grow deep, the branches they will reach for what? Nobody really knows, but underneath it all there’s this heart all alone.

-Jack Johnson, All At Once


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