Seeing old things through fresh eyes
So it’s Gratitude Wednesday and I have something to share with you. I was visited this weekend by an acquaintance from South Africa. This is not such a strange occurrence, however. Since living in Berlin, I have been visited by quite a few South Africans. Some of whom are incredibly close friends while others are people I know or sometimes people I don’t know but with whom I share mutual friends. I don’t know if this is a particularly South African thing, but it doesn’t seem to matter to what degree our familiarity is back home because once they’re here we usually carry on as if we are old friends regardless. There is a kinship and sense of shared heritage, culture and currency that connects us straight away.
I have mentioned before that my first few months in Berlin were really tough. It was always awesome for me to have people visiting but at times I felt bad for being a bit of a moaner and not really having a lot of nice things to say about the city these foreign guests were visiting.
But now I am into a different phase. Things are going well for me. I have a steady flow of clients, a beautiful apartment that I have to myself and a lovely group of friends who I can call on and who are there for me, no strings attached. Just the other day I sat with a group of my girlfriends who had gathered to give support to one of our friends who is going through a tough time. I looked around the room and saw people who were perfect strangers to me only a few months ago – a lovely mix of ladies from Canada, the States, Serbia, Australia, and Denmark – and I felt real special to be a part of this newly sprouted community. Berlin is a place of extremes and just like that I have gone from experiencing it as a big, mean bully to a warm, welcoming buddy.
And that brings me back to my story about my friend visiting this weekend. This person, bless his soul, is just the most enthusiastic high-spirited individual I’ve ever come into contact with. I have been accused of being “bubbly”, “manic”, and “over-excited” at times. I do, for example, still talk at a 100 miles an hour whenever I’m in a good mood or particularly when I’m around my favourite people. But I’ve always kind of been shy about my over-jealousness or wanted to be cool and not show how excited I was for something because I thought I should. You know what – screw that! This guy’s enthusiasm was so infectious and delightful that myself and my friends really missed him when he wasn’t around anymore.
What’s more, is that he wouldn’t stop going on about how cool Berlin is. He must have asked about 1000 questions about how the city works and each time he just got more and more excited. When walking around with him, I started to see things through his eyes. I started to notice the things in my neighbourhood that I have already started to take for granted, things that make Berlin unique and cool. The next day, I went to work along my usual route but this time I imagined the questions he would ask and the look on his face when he discovered yet another incredible fact about the city. And it worked! I began to feel happier and more excited about my surroundings. I looked at things slightly afresh and I imagined myself in a few years time, looking back and thinking about these memories I’m currently making. It’s amazing.
But this kind of enthusiasm for life doesn’t have to come only from new experiences. Sure, it’s awesome to travel and I am privileged beyond belief that I am having these experiences. I know that this is possible now for anyone. If a new person can shift the way I see my familiar surroundings then any of you can do the same in your own lives. Just because you’ve done something a hundred times doesn’t mean there isn’t the opportunity to see it differently on the 101st try! Surely, all you have to do is go for a walk in nature and you will discover this truth. There are no two sunsets alike, no two waves that form and crash in an identical pattern, and no trees that don’t look different depending on what time of day it is or which season it is. Our world is in constant flux and motion. Our perspectives too.
So, how have you changed your views on things recently? Is there something that you were able to transform just from looking at it a different way? If you open your heart and let gratitude in, the world around you is guaranteed to appear brighter. The future will look more hopeful. Think about it. What would you like to see differently tomorrow? Aaand go…