How The Coronavirus Lockdown Has Given Me A Renewed Appreciation For Things
I will put my hand up and admit that I was one of those annoyingly hopeful individuals that aimed to emerge from the lockdown with a renewed sense of appreciation for the things I never even knew that I took for granted beforehand.
I had never considered myself as particularly ungrateful prior to this situation. Years of self-induced, new-age programming, gratitude journals, positive affirmations and an irritating glass half-full, cheerful demeanour have rendered me a one-man appreciation machine.
The thing is, machines aren't human.
Humans feel things. That's the great gift of being a human being. We feel things and then we can express to our fellow humans what we are feeling, and then we can revel in our shared humanity. There's no other creature on this planet, or any other planet that I am currently aware of, that can do that.
So what I have been learning to really appreciate is, ironically, that it isn't that helpful to try to always appreciate.
You can have too much of a good thing, it seems. I've read one too many self-help books over the years, and listened to one too many personal growth audiobooks. And whilst there is nothing particularly wrong with reading uplifting stuff, it can cloud your ability to think and feel for yourself. You begin to take on more 'shoulds', 'woulds' and 'coulds'. You should be more appreciative. Could do more to help other people. Would be enlightened if it wasn't for your upbringing. Every single one of those is still an attempt to be something other than you are.
The self-help/personal growth world ends up becoming a self-unfulfilling prophecy, a bit like the diet industry. Diets don't work generally because they don't address the core issue of why people eat in the first place, and willpower only goes so far. Self-help keeps you on the treadmill of striving to be better, freer, happier, healthier and more enlightened. Treadmills get you nowhere, whilst giving you the sensation of movement.
So I've been much happier recently to embrace being imperfectly perfect. What I am learning to appreciate is my quirks, my foibles, my shifting moods, my rising and falling energy levels, my recurring thought patterns, my fears, my anxieties, the things I do appreciate, the things I really don't.
And that is all just before 9 in the morning!