Fish in the Sky and Other Little Things
Sometimes I think about things that I’m pretty sure only a kid would appreciate. I love getting into conversations that ponder the Why?, What if?, or Do you think? about ideas that maybe don’t interest most adults. This is likely one of my strengths as a psychologist – having curiosity about topics that are a bit atypical or approaching topics from an atypical angle.
For example, last night I noticed car taillights that looked like the eyes of a certain comic strip character. I could have easily spent another few minutes/hours analyzing other taillights. However, since the person with me was older than 14, I knew that this exercise would not be met with the same gusto I was feeling.
Another example is the time when I saw this cloud that looked like a fish. I quickly grabbed a photo of it, suspecting that it would have a short lifespan. After a few minutes, the cloud took on another random pattern, as is the tendency of those flighty (or flaky?) aerial fish. You can probably guess that the fate was similar for a Chinese Dragon I found flying across the sky. I shared these phenomena with others, but they were not nearly as fascinated as I was.
I consider these events to be sort of like miracles. Why? The miracle is not that a million water atoms happened to come together to create an image. Rather, the miracle is that I happened to be looking up at exactly the right moment, and that I was actually in the mindset to notice a pretty awesome occurrence.
Months later, I realized that these moments could provide a helpful life lesson. As a result, I put together a strategy that helps us get unstuck, shifts our perspective, and guides us back on track. This concept is not a new discovery. In fact, children use the last two parts of this approach all the time – I suspect that adults merely lose touch with it over the years.
I’ve broken this strategy down into four elements: Status Check, Use Your Eyes, Don’t Use Your Eyes, and Appreciate and Allow.
Status Check – I stopped to take in my surroundings. The purpose of the Status Check is to make sure that you are on the path you’ve chosen, following your valued ideals, and intentionally forming a meaningful life (rather than just going with an arbitrary flow).
Use Your Eyes – I used my eyes to see what was really around me. This can be difficult because our tendency is to leave the present, stop seeing reality, and focus on wishing that reality weren’t so real. These fantasies about nonreality often involve “should” and “must” thoughts. If you instead take stock of reality and compare it to the big picture (what led you here, who are you, what else is happening in your life, what are your goals), you’ll see that reality plays a vital role in your current and future journey.
Don’t Use Your Eyes – I became open to seeing reality from a different perspective so that I could notice the Little Things. Sort of like those visual graphics tricks where a picture can look like either a wine glass or two people looking at each other. The question you can ask yourself is, is this the only way to see reality or can I perceive this in a way beyond what I typically see? It is likely that there are Little Things (maybe not the exact ones you wanted) in your current world that can be embraced, be seen differently, or present opportunities.
Appreciate and Allow – Sometimes we feel stuck in a certain mindset or mood, as if some external force has banished us to a state of gloom. Usually, though, how we are thinking or feeling is within our power to change (although sometimes we choose to feel badly – there are legitimate reasons for this that I will cover in another article). Therefore, when Little Things present themselves in your life, you can make the choice to Appreciate them and, harder still, you can make the choice to Allow them to affect you in a positive way.
Please don’t get me wrong. Even though I’ve packaged this into a neat four-part strategy, the integration of this practice is not so cut and dry. Sometimes we need to nudge the process along with lots of internal coaching. However, every once in a while, it is really easy, and Little Things are sometimes quite large and hard to miss; we just need to open our eyes. Oh, and if you happen to miss some Little Things? Don’t worry, even if you don’t catch them this time, there are always more fish in the sky. #DrDug #LittleThingsFromDrDug