Stop chasing the magic and it will find you

Columnist Beth Cooper Howell says if people stop searching for the next big thing long enough, it will come to them when they least expect it

My good friend Penny and I regularly share inspirational e-mails – those ones cynical people fob off as platitudes or hippy nonsense because the world doesn’t reward people for smiling and waving, does it?

Or doesn’t it? After dipping into one of her sage e-mails again this week, I am still utterly convinced that magic exists. I don’t know how it works, or why, but it’s not something we’re being taught at varsity or the go-for-the-jugular corporate environment.

Ja, you say, but bad things happen to good people no matter how much they give to charity or spend their time being nice or avoid negative thoughts. If magic exists, then where the hell is it?

What I’ve found is that you don’t have to understand how it works to make it happen. And that the big things you want will probably miraculously appear at some point – but only when you sweat, in a good way, the small stuff.

You’ll probably find as well that what you thought would make you happy, really doesn’t. And that’s where the magic happens. A couple of years ago, Penny sent me a story about living in the moment. It went something like this: women tend to put off what gives us a moment of joy or bliss because it’s not in the schedule, or is undeserved or doesn’t fit in with the routine we’ve created in order to earn enough money or bag the best soulmate or achieve the right body, which are the things we think we want. And when we don’t have them, we aspire to them. But in the process of looking ahead, our sleep-when-you’re-dead attitude is having an opposite attraction effect.

We’re so busy eyeing the summit that we’re ignoring the coffee and rest stops on the way. There’s the anecdote about the serial dieter on the Titanic who refused to eat the chef’s cream dessert because she was afraid of getting fat on the cruise. Or the mom who kept promising to dance in the rain with her daughter soon, only to find that the girl had grown up overnight and didn’t want to get wet.

The secret to getting up and having a passably happy day is as simple and exhausting as busting a butt cheek at gym. It takes practice, but earns results.

The twist is that you have to find something good in every single person or situation.

It’s funny, when you do that, because every brick-carrying, fume-belching truck will pull in front of you then, or perhaps your baby will projectile vomit or husband schedule a meeting at bath-time.

But that’s the thing about magic, see. Every single time I didn’t blow up, tickled my children randomly and learned how to say I love you in Italian just because, I was adding to my personal happiness investment.

Instead of wasting my time worrying about avoiding bad times or aspiring towards better times, I was filling my mental love bucket.

And this means that brick-carrying, fume-belching trucks don’t bug me as much, when I remember to blow ’em a kiss.