Negative Visualisation

Reflecting on and celebrating that which we have.

By Richard Andrews

A week ago Storm Christophe battered or rather soaked the UK. After walking one of our dogs in the pouring rain and returning home, my wife told me we had a problem with our electric supply. The emergency electrician was not able to source the fault and though it shouldn’t have taken as long as it did, we were without central heating; hot water; a washing machine and a dishwasher for the coldest week of the winter so far.

For 6 evenings the 2 of us and our 2 dogs have cuddled up snugly, or tried to, in a warm throw we were bought for Christmas. Watching TV, from the one socket that worked downstairs, in front of an inadequate gas fire.

This morning the fault was located – inevitably a simple one – and the problem resolved. This afternoon we have: basked in the warmth of heating; luxuriated in hot steamy baths; loaded the washing machine & dishwasher. Things that a week ago we took for granted.

Made me think. I have never found anything that gives me life long happiness. Getting a new car; being promoted; losing a few pounds or many alternatives give me a sense of happiness that is short-lived and I can find myself on a hedonic treadmill. The reality is I cannot stop the dynamo of my desire.

Would I be better off if I were to reflect on what I do have and celebrate the fact that I have it? Would I be more contented filling the gap of desire by imagining what life would be like without the things I do have? Instead of spending my life yearning for that which I don’t have look around me and enjoy what I do have? Cold though we may have been there was still much to take pleasure from – the photograph above was taken on a snowy morning in Wollaton Park, Nottingham this week.

Perhaps our recent experience has gone some way to help me get off the hedonic treadmill. Being without those things I often take for granted has helped me to accept, appreciate, and even savour the life I am already living.

My thinking has been influenced by a book by William B Irvine – A Guide to the Good Life

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