I hate to admit this to you, my dear Noticers, but I have been kind of down in the mouth. I generally think of myself as a sort of happy, yellow flower type of person, trying to Notice the positive. So my mood lately is disturbing me.
But the world seems worse than usual, with the wars in the Middle East, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, and conflicts in Thailand and Venezuela, and now trouble in Ukraine. Here is a list of countries that have armed conflicts now, compiled by Prof. Joshua S. Goldstein: Syria, Sudan/South Sudan/CAR, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq/Turkey, Yemen, Somalia, D.R. Congo, Nigeria, Israel/Palestine, India, Burma, and Thailand.
Depressing, huh? There is little the US can do about many of these conflicts, and even less that I can do as an individual. So my question is: Is it ok to look for happiness when so many people in the world are suffering so much? And besides the wars, there is famine, flood, drought and all sorts of plagues. Let me not even get into poverty in our own country, domestic violence, gang warfare, trafficking. OH MY!
Well. Deep breath taken. What are your thoughts on this? Do we have a right to pursuit of happiness amidst such suffering?
I definitely believe we need to know what’s going on in the world and not live in our own little cocoons. And I really do think that the good and the amazing and the beautiful are just as much a part of the world as the brutal and the dogmatic. Hmmm. Maybe I am talking myself back into my happy, yellow flower persona. Maybe Noticing marvelous, delightful things provides the fuel to keep us going and engaged in the wider world.
Yesterday I went to the theatre at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Arena Stage was recently rebuilt into a huge, airy, gorgeous building. The windows soar skyward from the floor and look out onto the Southwest waterfront and the river. The day was beautiful – a hiatus between polar vortex and snowstorm.
As I gazed out the windows of this beautiful new building, I was overcome with the gestalt of it all. People were strolling along the waterfront. Lucky dogs were fetching balls thrown by their enthusiastic owners. Bike riders were racing down the road, faces into the sun. And as a bonus on this March day, sailboats filled the river. It was a beautiful scene. So worthy of Notice and so smile-provoking.
Then I watched the show. Mother Courage and Her Children. Wow! This is the major anti-war play written by Bertolt Brecht. It was a stupendous production. I left the theatre worn-out. War in real life. War in the theatre. War. Violence. The stubbornness and stupidity of mankind.
But then I thought of the dog-players and bike-riders and sailors and strollers that I saw. And I thought of the yellow flowers that I love and other things like toddlers learning to walk and friends laughing together and children learning to ice skate. And then I sighed. I cannot not resume my pursuit of happiness through Noticing. And I really hope my pursuit is contagious.
©2014 Margery Leveen Sher
MARGERY IS AVAILABLE TO KEYNOTE YOUR MEETING OR CONFERENCE with a motivational talk peppered with both startling wisdom and humongous laughs:
“Notice What You See and Be a Hero at Work”
Margery Leveen Sher is a speaker, writer, and entrepreneur with decades of experience as a consultant for major corporations and government agencies. She is the founder and Chief Noticing Officer of The Did Ya Notice? Project, and is currently writing the definitive book on Noticing.