Yet everything can have an effect on us. And all things affect us from a distance, the near as well as the remote things, nothing touches us; everything reaches us across divisions. And just as the most remote stars cannot enter us, the ring on my hand cannot do so either: everything that reaches us can do so only the way a magnet summons and aligns the forces in some susceptible object; in this way, all things can effect a new alignment within us. And in view of this insight, do proximity and distance not simply vanish?
—Rainer Maria Rilke
When we look back on our lives we often remember big moments — achievements, heartbreaks, challenges overcome. But why do we remember these? Is it not just because we decided to allocate particular emphasis on these milestones in our own interpretations of our lives?
On an individual level, the difference between significance and insignificance is often just our interpretation of events. We let the anticipation of ‘big’ events overwhelm us. We let the memory of ‘big’ events intoxicate us. And yet this only occurs because we’ve decided what’s big and what’s not; we choose to only allocate our mindfulness towards experiences we deem worthy.
This creates a cycle of attachment to those outlying events when they do occur, which is rarely. Why do we save our attention and intrigue for ‘special’ happenings? What happens when we decide to make the unspecial special?
This is what mindfulness is — it teaches us that we have the power to appreciate the little things in life. Little moments of happiness and peace with ourselves, our loved ones, our animals, and the drudgery of our daily lives can be transformed, by mindfulness, into ‘extraordinary’ experiences. This just requires our conscious attention, which we cultivate whenever we meditate or savor the moment.
Find more of these moments. Use your awareness not to highlight the rare peaks and valleys of your life but to find beauty in the plateaus, the spaces in-between. This is where life really lives. When we appreciate it in this way, it becomes less of a destination-oriented journey. It helps us truly appreciate where we are.