Monday, December 26, 2011

2011: Small Good Things

Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) by Astronaut Ron Garan

The human mind has a tendency to focus on the negative things that have happened to us. Memories of traumatic events are more deeply formed than the positive ones. Science blames the hippocampus for ensuring that we recall bad events. An adaptive mechanism to prevent these events from reoccurring in the future. One dwells and reviews images of a poorly edited movie, which rely on perception provoked by negative emotions rather than factual memories.

The positive events are mundane in comparison. We take repetitive stability for granted. The human mind does not think about "it could be worse", but is dissatisfied that "it could be better" and is not. Such is the human condition.

I attended a series of mind-opening and -altering lectures, during which a gifted professor introduced me to the concept that the quantum path not taken might be the alternate path we would not want to be on. In simple terms; the bad things that did not happen to us.  If we were to keep track of them, we would quickly realize just how fortunate we are.  He listed a few examples and I was inspired to do the same.

It helps that I am a compulsive list maker and keep a (somewhat sporadic) writing journal. Writing a Proustian list of aggravating and disappointing events is easy. Writing a list of the pleasant moments takes a little effort; the "small stuff" is so easily forgotten.

The 2011 list of random small good things:

1. I started a blog. Glad that I did.
2. I met some incredible people in the blogosphere and am impressed by the quality of writing. I have come to think of many of you as my geographically challenged "friends", although I still think it is strange that I am communicating with people whom I have never met. I am working on that.
3.Then again, I had a fascinating conversation about art and science with a complete stranger in an art gallery.
4. I bought art supplies, books and journals.
5. I bought other things, but this list is not about "stuff".
6. Nothing unreasonably heavy fell on me.
7. Nothing unreasonably large ran me over.
8. Someone I was not particularly fond of has retired.
9. Spawn is taking his medication and I still have all of my digits.
10. Sharing hilarious moments with HQ, my friends and select relatives.
11. Had an argument with someone about a scientific theory when he walked into a mailbox, which I used to prove my point. And it was not "Hrunmpf!" Still laughing.
12. Living with a circus troupe of feline entertainers.
13. Finding lost treasures while organizing.
14. Finding pebbles, leaves and interesting things while hiking.
15. Watching birds and other wildlife.
16. Watched a group of fat squirrels put on weight for the winter, this amuses me on an annual basis.
17. Learning something new.

The list is long. Life is short.


  1. My tendency to be negative has been on my mind a lot lately. This holiday season is not my particular favorite time of the year. For some reason, this year has been even worse. I'm always trying to remind myself of the good things, but the bad things seem especially overwhelming. I wish I was a list maker. Maybe I should make that a resolution for the new year. I'm glad you started a blog Antares, I really enjoy reading it.

  2. Merry Christmas AC.

    I think what you're pondering here is something that occupies us all now and again {or now and again and again and again.......} and while there are no easy answers, scientific or otherwise, I believe that life is for asking those questions, seeking those answers but most of all for enjoying the journey, even though sometimes the path is uneasy, uncertain or even painful. Life, like science, is perhaps all about mysteries and seekings. Jings, I didn't mean to spout like that.

    I'm glad you started blogging to and look forward to whatever comes in 2012. Thanks for 2011.

    From {hopefully} a geographically challenged friend.

  3. @Meg, holidays can be hard for many. And sometimes the bad things outweigh the good ones. I hope that 2012 is a more positive one for you.
    Lists are gooood. Especially the pen and journal kind.;)
    Nice to have met you too and thank you. Looking forward to your next 2013?

    @Alistair, Merry Christmas to you too.
    While far from an aversion to pondering and contemplation this falls into the less is more category of life.
    Appreciated the spouting.
    However, I do not think that call centers need to be part of our journey;)

    Thank you, probably more aliens and spacey things. Looking forward to yours too.

    Absolutely, my friend.
    Virtual pint?

  4. Virtually anytime/anywhere......

  5. I hope this next year brings you good things, friend.

  6. Love the list. Reminds me of all the little things I took for granted this year too. I guess I didn't have to deal with anything particularly large or heavy either so that's something. Right?

    Merry Christmas, buddy!

  7. Your list is a great reminder to me. Love #2

    Merry Christmas and may 2012 be a great year for us all.

  8. #1 has been so good to me too. Thank you for being a big part of that. And now, also thanks to you, I have more insight into my negative thinking. *curses hippocampus*

  9. @Alistair, nice one.
    Thought so. *clink* Cheers.

    @Laoch, thank you, hope for and wish you the same, friend.
    Statistically speaking it should.

    @Vinny, get your own.
    I mean list, so you can send it to me in a few weeks. Everyone takes boring for granted.;)
    I suppose so, you were moving large boxes though.

    Merry Christmas to you and family and your inner geek.

    @Nubian, you're welcome.
    Send me your reminder in a month or so.
    That's cuz you guys ar shpecial.
    Hear, hear. Merry Christmas to you, bear and T.

    @dbs, here we go again.
    No, thank you for inviting me to become a part of that.
    Don't curse the hippocampus, you need it for memory formation, otherwise you'll end up like the guy in Memento...the movie with...the guy...
    It's starting already.

  10. It is sad that some humans don't get enough out of positive emotions.. if they did I suppose they would strive for more, not feed on negativity and drama.

    I'm going to make a list to:)

    lists.... gotta love em. Must makes them.

  11. Count me on the list of people who are happy that you started a blog, Ant'.~

    I'm also happy to be able to read about feline acrobats.

  12. @Sprite, unlike rats they also don't get rewarded by empathy;)

    Lists are good. You should post the ones that can go public.

    @Katsidhe, thanks Tapetum Lucidum, I appreciate it.
    I think entertaining us is their training method.

  13. Antares- You've done gone inspired me. Time to sketch out my own list.
    Hope you had a marvelous Christmas. Wishing you the brightest of all New Years. :D

  14. You have given all of us something to think about! I am one of those glass-half-full types and spend a great deal of time pondering the myriad joys and pleasures of my life. #1 on my list just now is not having to shovel snow. The birds and the sqirrels are able to eat a la carte and not depend on me trudging to the various buffet stations. The feline safari members are able to stalk denizens of the tundra at will. It's all good.

  15. @Jayne, good. I think they're rather useful, adds up to be our lives.
    Wish you and yours the same. Thank you.

    @Damon, thank you for joining.

    @Lord Wellbourne, most of the time so am I. That's the list, you're on the right track.
    The local wildlife is well taken care of.


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