Our lives are a crazy mashup of expectation and anxiety. On Mondays we wish it was Saturday, and on Sundays we could kill to skip the week ahead. On Saturday nights our hearts race just by thinking one half of the weekend is gone. While doing a boring task we just think about getting some rest, and while resting we just think we still have more work to do. We love reading but constantly crave for the next book, feed, tweet or article. We love movies and TV shows but it's always about watching the next big thing. We hate having to do stuff we don't like, so sometimes it just seems we're doing stuff we like to make our brain forget that there's so much we hate about our lives.
No wonder stress is among the most debated issues of modern life. We can't seem to enjoy anything without thinking about what comes next, no matter how good (e.g. that fantastic trip abroad) or bad (e.g. you need me to do WHAT as soon as I get back to the office?). I also suffer this. I hate it.
I'd like to propose we start thinking differently, and that means starting a battle no one truly enjoys. No, not with your boss. Nor with your co-workers. Nor with company policy. Nor with your family. Nor with the status quo.
We should really start a battle with ourselves to make it (whatever it is) interesting. Not necessarily good. Not necessarily creative. Not necessarily cheery. But interesting at least. Why interesting? Because our brains are wired to enjoy what's interesting, because interesting captivates us and makes us embrace whatever's happening. Is your job managing newsletters? Writing shitty banner copy? Managing shady projects? Then you have two options: do something else someplace else, or make that same job a bit more interesting.
Here's the catch: interesting is not about other people. Interesting shitty banner copy is not about making the client laugh. Interesting newsletter management systems are not about getting your senior's approval. Interesting shady projects are not about cutting through the clutter or pulling some strings and actually getting covered by industry news. Because all those things are external to your work, and they are most likely unmanageable on your behalf. Grumpy clients will be grumpy clients, newsletters will be newsletters and shady projects will be shady projects. That's a fact.
But your reality is not a fact. It's a perception. And perceptions are a genius part of our existence because they make dreams come true before our very eyes. Not what-I've-always-wanted dreams, but crazy-ways-to-see-things dreams. Until our perceptions change regarding whatever moment we're facing, we'll always live in a world ruled by expectation and anxiety.
So interesting things are actually about how you look at what happens around you. Can you laugh at a license plate? Speak to a turtle (even if it doesn't reply)? Care enough to re-arrange your computer's folders per type of file or project? Deconstruct the design and balance of the food in your plate? Are any of those things even interesting? According to other people, no; but that's the wrong way of seeing things, because again we're focusing on what's external. And external things are things we can't control. And what we can't control inevitably leads to either expectation or anxiety. Which suddenly makes things less interesting. "Do what you love" is not as strong a statement as "love what you do".
By making it interesting we forget what comes next or what came before, because things aren't interesting in retrospective. Maybe they lead to nostalgia or happy memories, but they are no longer interesting in the moment; just a fragment of something which was interesting at a specific point in time. They are also not interesting in the future, because obviously you still haven't experienced them. At the moment, however, things can either fall in one of two categories: interesting or not interesting. If they are interesting, enjoy them and stop reading this. If they are not, make them. Copy and paste all those contacts to the rhythm of your favorite hip-hop song. Re-read that client email while singing. Focus on making pretty things for the sake of pretty, not necessarily making things pretty for other people to judge.
This may be a harder than fighting the status quo because the status quo does not always depend on you. But bet who does depend entirely on you. (I won't say it, you're smarter than that). So fuck that Saturday isn't here yet, or that your vacation is coming. Those things are facts to enjoy when they come, not while other interesting things may be happening. Physics will tell you that time is just a perception, an illusion. So maybe we can learn a bit with the nerds that dedicate their lives studying it. If time is an illusion, why can't we use that in our favor? Why not make all things an illusion and not just a sterile moment? It's what some people call imagination. And if someone ever tells you that reading an email while singing is crazy, and "all in your head", just be thankful for that. You already have the advantage.