Get back to basics

They were our best yard sale customers of the day. They bought a picnic quilt from my mom. Then some toys. Then they picked out some kitchen items at our table. And a bag full of other random items.

Then they came to a framed print of a leaf with the word "Inspire" on it. She wanted it. With a smile he asked, "Isn't that basic?" and then they explained they had watched a spoof video (that I can't find in spite of all of my best Googling) about "being basic" (think #soblessed and other seemingly trite phrases). 

But here's the thing. Basic makes sense. There's brilliance in simplicity sometimes. I remember reading All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten in high school. To quote Robert Fulghum, "All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate-school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.

  • Play fair.

  • Don't hit people.

  • Put things back where you found them.

  • Clean up your own mess.

  • Don't take things that aren't yours.

  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.

  • Wash your hands before you eat.

  • Flush.

  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

  • Live a balanced life--learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

  • Take a nap every afternoon.

  • When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup--they all die. So do we.

  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned--the biggest word of all--LOOK."

A lot has happened in my life since I read these words in high school, and I started making the world and my words more complex, because I thought I had to. Then I started giving speeches, and most of the research I did, whether on positivity or productivity, turned out to be pretty straightforward, and, shall I say, basic? I remember helping to hand out a book on positive relationships my boss had purchased for each employee. One woman rolled her eyes and asked me, "Isn't this all common sense, Christin?" I'll tell you the same thing I told her, "None of this is rocket science. It should be common sense. But we forget it all the time. And I'm making a career out of helping people remember." It's why I keep doing these positivity talks and hosting Happiness Hours - to keep reminding others. And myself.

Last summer I read Sonja Lyubomirsky's The How of Happiness. In the foreword, she asks this, "Why do many of the most powerful happiness activities sound so... well, hokey? To be sure, some of us find exhortations to 'count your blessings,' 'live in the present,' 'commit random acts of kindness,' 'look on the bright side' or 'smile!' trivial at best and corny at worst. Yet as I shall plainly illustrate, these strategies, when practiced in effortful and optimal ways, have been borne out in numerous studies to be incredibly effective." They're also easy to remember, which helps increase the chances we'll apply them. 

So I'll keep trying to make lemonade when life gives me lemons. When I get a no, I'll remind myself that when one door closes another one opens. When I feel sad, I'll sing, "Don't worry, be happy." I'll keep channeling my inner Pollyanna and playing the glad game. And I'll be happier because of it.

I'm not the only one. The couple at the yard sale? They bought the print after all.

Get back to basics. 

Photo by vision webagency on Unsplash

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