Happiness Part V: We Know Too Much


Day in and day out, we are being bombarded with information.  Some of it will be correct and some of it will prove to be incorrect yet, we will absorb it all as though through osmosis.  Whether we are truly paying attention or we’re subliminally and subconsciously picking it up, we have most of that info, rumbling around in our brains somewhere and it’s acting upon us like a slow release pill, coming out in dribs and drabs. It’s likely that we don’t even recognize that info is there or that we’re utilizing it in one way or another.  Our brains are wonderous machines with a filing system that makes computers look like toys.  Reality is, we know far more than we need to know and it’s causing us both stress and distress.  It’s a road block to being happy.

Remember back a few entries ago when the scenario of children being happy was the centre point of that piece?  If not, you can review it here.  Part of the reason that children are generally happy is that they don’t know enough to be un-happy.  Not only have the brains of children not developed enough but, they don’t know enough to be upset, stressed, worried or any of the adult things that we, as adults, have come to learn to do.  They live in moment because they can’t really foresee much trouble in the future.  Ignorance is sometimes, bliss.

Let me give a scenario here that may help demonstrate that point better.

Two men are in a car, stuck on railway tracks.  They cannot move back nor forward.  The elder gentleman in the car has a form of dementia and is busily reminiscing about days gone by that he remembers with fondness.  The younger gentleman, fully able to compute the dangers of what is happening, is trying not to frighten the older man while trying to start the car again with no success.  Off in the distance, he sees the faint lights of an oncoming train and keeps trying to start the car, filled with panic now.  The elder man is completely unaware of what is happening and continues on his trip down memory lane with pure joy and delight, laughter and a smile while beads of sweat drip down the younger man’s forehead.  Finally, in vain, as the train approaches rapidly, the younger man exits the car, opens the door of the passenger’s side and drags the old man out of the car to safety.  The train soon demolishes the car into a tangled heap of metal before coming to a stop.  The young man tries to catch his breath while the elder gentleman simply says, “why did you stop me?  I wasn’t finished my story.”  Both men experienced the same situation.  The difference in their reactions were simply that the younger man knew what was going to happen while the elder man was blissfully unaware of the danger lurking down the tracks.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be aware of dangers or ignorant of facts nor, uneducated.  What it is saying is that we are overloaded with information that oftentimes, is false, misleading and most importantly, un-needed.  We can’t be child-like because we now know too much.  As a matter of fact, we know more than we really need to know and that, in and of itself, causes stress, distress and un-happiness.  We are now incapable of simply living in the moment and being amused with simple things like the taste of our coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, the clouds that are floating past us above, the purr of our cat, the sound of a stream, a song that we love or many other of the most soothing and amusing things in Life.  Instead, we are analyzing everything silly, thinking about what lays ahead, how much damage it’s doing to us and the world, some study that proves that the caffeine in our wonderful tasting coffee can kill us or how the water in our bottle of water might pollute the earth or be polluted by the chemicals in the plastic bottle or wax that lines the paper take-out cup is toxic.  We’re usually reading or listening to the news which is filled with doom and gloom as that is what sells air/paper time and we’re using technology devices such as our cell phones to look up more crazy-making information.  The list is endless as to how information is slowly not only taking away our happiness and ability to be happy but, is potentially causing us stress that will or could kill us sooner or later.

How many shootings do we need to hear about before we can say, “there’s a lot of kids, killing others with guns”?  How many studies have we all heard, read or talked about that eventually get reversed or at the least, changed because newer studies have proven differently and yet, we’ve given up that great tasting coffee or bread or eggs and, it’s now not only ok to have them but, we find out we should have been having them all along as they’re beneficial to us?  How many car accidents do we need to see on the news at night with people we never met, don’t know and never will know before we get the idea that driving a car in today’s world and in traffic or driving distracted or impaired, can kill us? Do we really need 24/7 news stations that cover a story live and have “experts” on panel to discuss every nuance of the situation?

The bottom line is that we have far too much information floating around in our heads that not only don’t serve us beyond simply having a fact/knowledge but, are harming us in one way or another.  It’s all certainly a stumbling block towards being happy.

If you want to feel a bit happier,

  • Turn off the news or put down that newspaper
  • Quit Googling or Binging or whatever search engine you use for a bit
  • Turn off your cell phone or use it to actually CALL a friend or relative and enjoy talking to them instead of texting or ignoring them.
  • Stop taking every study too seriously because it will eventually turn out to be changed or reversed by another that will follow.
  • Either turn up your favourite music and sing or dance with it or, listen to the birds chirping, the stream sounds or your cat purring for a change
  • Watch a comedy or inspirational movie instead of a horror, police or crime show
  • Read a book or story with an inspirational message behind it
  • Buy yourself an adult colouring book and colour for a change.  Heck, get out the crayons and colour a child’s colouring book.
  • Ditch the “Know-It-Alls” who are walking encyclopedias but, are as negative as hell
  • Limit time with or eliminate those people who are bringing you nothing but headaches or demands for you doing something for them
  • Spend more time with people who make you feel good and most of all, make you laugh
  • Get silly. Roll down a hill, play with toys, splash around in a local pool just for the fun of being in water and weightless or buy yourself a teddy bear.  Seriously.
  • Stay out of your head and thinking for even an hour a day.  Just pay attention to things around you that are soothing and relaxing.  If you can’t find that, find them in your memory bank.  They’re there, believe it or not.
  • Be thankful for what you have right now even if it’s not your dream situation
  • Set aside a worry time of 20 minutes where you write your worries out into a dollar store notebook then shut the journal and tell yourself worry time is over until your next planned session then, get on with something light, silly and funny

These are just a few ideas.  There are plenty more.  If you’re going to Google anything, search for ways to have fun.

Stay light, stay laughing, stay away from people or information that brings you down to a stressed out level as much as possible.  Just be.  Be in the moment and enjoy the little things in Life.  Be happy!

Blessings, Love and Light from my little corner of life to yours.


Cell Phones Or Human Contact?

I have quite the quandry on my hands.  I am due for an upgrade on my cell phone.

Normally, that would be great news as I do love technology and learning new gadgets however, upon walking into a cell phone shop to look at the newest models, I found myself totally overwhelmed with the amount of selection available and set out to get help from a sales associate.

He was a nice young man who seemed to have a lot of knowledge and personality.  I figured that at least I’d made the right choice in someone to aid me in my quest.

“Ron” (the sales associate):  How can I help you today?

Me:  Well, I’m eligible for an upgrade on my cell phone but, I don’t know what I want yet and there’s so many to  choose from.

“Ron”:  What are your needs?  Let’s start there.

Me:  Basically, I just want to be able to make a call, check my email, have a camera, and…well….maybe, be able to get onto Facebook.

“Ron”:  Ok, so pretty basic features then so, every phone here will be able to do that for you.

Me:  Great, that narrows it down, Ron.

“Ron”:  (Polite laugh)

Me:  What’s the difference between the iphone, an android and a Blackberry?  I already have a Blackberry but, it might be time to change.

“Ron”:  Everyone has their preferences.  Some love their iphones, some their androids and some their Blackberrys.

Me:  Again, thanks Ron.  That narrows it down yet again.

“Ron”: (Another polite chuckle as he looks at his own android phone to see a message and quickly text back)

Me:   Ron, I see that you have an android.

“Ron”:  Yeah but, I also have a Blackberry and love both for different reasons.

Me:  Ok, Ron…tell me why you love your android and why you love your Blackberry.

“Ron”:  Well, I keep my Blackberry for certain people to contact me and, I have my android for me…my personal use.

Me:  Explain what you mean by why the Blackberry for certain people and the android for your personal use.

“Ron”:  Uhhhmmm…uhhhhmmm….I like my android because it lets me watch sports, listen to music, and play games but, I like my Blackberry because if I want to write long emails, I can do it better on my Blackberry.

Me:  (Thinking we’re finally getting somewhere)  Ok, so the Blackberry is something that you use more for emailing and the android you use more as an entertainment center?

“Ron”:  Well, sorta…I write emails on my android too.

Me:  But, you just said that you prefer your Blackberry for your emails, why?

“Ron”:  I don’t know really.  I’ve learned how to swype on my android now so, it’s just as quick.

Me:  Swype?  What’s that?

“Ron”: (Taking his android, the size of a small book, out of his pocket and making a finger gestures like a voodoo priest over the phone).  I can highlight the letters that I want to type and it will automatically enter the word…see?

He continues to show me words…though they’re all wrong and he seems to spend more time correcting them than anything else.

Me:  Uh-huh….but, it seems to be rather inaccurate.

“Ron”:  Yeah, it is really for texting.

Me:  But, you said that you can write emails just as well on this phone as your Blackberry.

“Ron”:  Well, yeah…when you get used to using the touch typing pad.  I need more practice at it.

Me: (Clearing my throat, getting a little antsy at this point)  Ok, Ron…let’s move on to the other features of the android.

“Ron”:  Oh, they’re so cool.  I can do this (again with the voodoo finger movements and several screens later).  I can sit in the restaurant and look up what movies are playing then, (more finger movements) I can watch the trailer for the movie to see if I want to go see it. (Flips phone sideways to show trailer playing).

Me:  Interesting, Ron.  What else can it do?

“Ron”:  Well, I can watch the sports replays if I miss the game while I’m at work and busy with customers.

Me:  But, won’t that take a large data plan to be able to do those things?

“Ron”:  Yeah but, I have 6 GBs a month so, I never run out.  But, my girlfriend only has 500 MBs a month and she’s close to the edge every month.

Me:  So, then in order to use all of these android features fully, I’d have to have a large data plan.

“Ron”:  Well, it depends on what you want to use it for.

Me:  What if I only want to be able to send emails, text, maybe post something to Facebook or Twitter?

“Ron”:  It depends on how much of that you want to do.  If you want to watch and post Youtube videos, you might need a lot more.  But, you should see the Blackberry Playbook.

Me:  What’s the Blackberry Playbook?

Ron takes me over to a large tablet looking item and proceeds to show me all of its features.

Me:  That’s great, Ron but, it’s a tablet, not a phone.

Ron:  Yeah, but you can read books on it and it’s got an onscreen keyboard and….

Me:  (Cutting Ron off, mid-sentence)  Thank you but, I just want a phone.

Ron again texts someone on his phone again and another sales associate takes his cell phone out of his pocket, mid-sentence while with his customer.  I see the smirk and watch him move his fingers in the same fashion over his screen.  Ron looks back at his phone and smiles then, proceeds to type something back.

At this point, I’m sure that Ron and the other sales associate are having a great laugh about my own questions as well as that of his customer, another man, a little older than me, who is also seemingly asking questions.  I’m sure the conversation was comprised of one central message, “Old Farts don’t know what they want. Let’s sell them a house phone.”

Waiting while the two sales associates finish their little banter….I turn to see my husband taking his ancient flip-phone out of it’s holster clip on his pants belt and take a call.  It’s nothing more than a tiny screen with the numbers on the pad and walk away, talking happily, unconcerned about other features.  The phone was doing what we really needed it for, the ability to make a call.

All I wanted was to be able to make a call and perhaps, check email here and there.  Did I really need an entire entertainment center in my purse?  Was I really going to watch tv, check out movie trailers, watch Youtube videos?  I already have a GPS in my car.  An ipod to listen to music with.  An e-reader for my books.  Did I really need much more than I already have?

My husband had blissfully finished his phone call unaware of even how to text someone and completely happy with his archaic dinosaur of a phone so, what was I stressing over?

The answer was so simple.  Forty-five minutes and several sly grins between two sales associates later, I realized that I already had what I needed and wanted.

Me:  Thanks Ron for all of your help but, I’m going to stick with the phone that I have.

“Ron”:  Ok, that’s what I’m here for.  If you change your mind, here’s a catalogue of our phones and what they do.

Forty-five minutes later, loaded down with pamphelets, a catalogue, a business card and feeling drained but satisfied, we crossed the street and hit Tim Hortons for coffee whereupon I realized that everyone was sitting with other people in the coffee shop, cell phones in hand, ignorning those they were with, to play with their phones.  Not one of them were talking to one another.  They were all busily texting, swpying, watching videos or tv, talking to others elsewhere and not giving the actual flesh and blood people they were with, so much as a glance, let alone a word.

It was then that it hit me that we are moving towards a world of technology where other humanbeings will all become cyber avatars on cell phones.  We’re literally carrying around our lives on these things.

I turned to see one young man, doing banking on his cell phone.  He was transferring money over to someone else and it became apparent that he was transferring $10.00 over to the guy, sitting right across the table from him to pay him back for the lunch sandwich and coffees they were eating.

My husband reached into his pocket, pulled out his wallet and paid for our coffees with a crisp $10.00 bill.

We then went on to talk about other things and enjoy our time out together.

Sorry that I wasted your time “Ron”.  While I may be old enough to be your mother, I’m far from stupid.  I recognize that we are missing out on human contact with all of these expensive gadgets.  I’m both old enough and yet, young enough to realize that human contact is still the best thing in the world for us.  And, I’m sticking to that idea.