Keeping It Simple
Police Psychology has many facets. This is one I learned quickly working with officers.
I sat and dutifully listened to a story I had heard many times from my parents and now from my friend’s Brooklyn relatives. It seems that people who were children of the forties and before remember a time when there was no refrigeration in their homes. To compensate for what seems a necessity nowadays, people had ice blocks delivered to their homes from a centralized ice house. These blocks were put in an ice box with all the perishables that needed to be kept cool. This process led to one of the world’s simplest pleasures, and a pleasure that I have envied since the first time I heard this story.
As the iceman would travel down the street on a hot summer day, a pack of children followed his truck. As he chipped off a hunk of ice from the big block to fill each order, small pieces would break off. These small pieces of ice were given to the children to cool themselves down in the summer heat. Each small piece of ice was cherished, bringing immeasurable pleasure to the overheated children-who are now misty-eyed adults remembering the gleeful event seventy years later. Imagine, a piece of ice – frozen water. Is there anything simpler?
Simple – Then and Now
Today, when ice cream comes in thousands of flavors, with exotic names like double-fudge-upside-down-magic-cookie-cream-monster crunch, I would still bet that those simple pieces of ice brought more pleasure to those kids. In fact, I would be willing to venture that most of us will never know a pleasure comparable to that simple “piece of ice.” It is sad to realize that in a time so filled ·with the “riches” of life – IPAD’s, smart phones, Facebook, YouTube and the rest – we actually live in great poverty for the pleasure of simple things, like that simple piece of ice.
In an attempt to better meet our perceived needs, we are denying our basic needs. In an attempt to make life easier, we are complicating our lives. In an attempt to create some kind of lasting happiness, we are setting the conditions for happiness to be transient. Happiness was around long before we intervened. Happiness was, and still is, achieved by focusing on the simple pleasures in your life.
Happiness is Simple
Do you really believe that people in or society are happier than the settlers on the Western frontier who had very little? Are our children today happier playing on their IPADS than the children of the thirties following that ice truck? We have been made to believe that technology will provide the hope for mankind. We’ve been made to believe that a psychological understanding of our inner selves will transform us. The hope for mankind does not lie in scientific advances that add to “more.” It does not lie in the creation of bigger and more complicated toys. Happiness does not lie in any complex techniques of psychology designed to give you new insights into the inner self. The hope for mankind lies in the focus on the “simple” things in life. The hope for mankind may actually be a step back in a time when science is propelling the world forward at a phenomenal pace. The hope for mankind is learning again how to make things simpler amidst a tornado of technology, nasty news stories, and information.
Beginning to Simplify
Three things you can do now to begin to simplify your lives.
- De-clutter: Get rid of the clutter around your house, in your basement, in your room and in your children’s room. Be careful to keep the few things you do use, but remember that cluttered cages cause animals to be sick. Overcome the entropy that can turn your life into a landfill. De-cluttering is the ultimate start to make things simpler.
- Deprogram: Get rid of the complicated thoughts and patterns you have in your thinking that create an avalanche of misery. Let people one up you, let people have differing opinions. Get rid of the concept of self-esteem. Learn to focus on your efforts, not others opinions of you. Learn to focus on your self-talk, not the talk of others. Fight to not get too upset about the randomness of the world. People who don’t try to control the actions of others are much happier in their lives.
- Desire: Make the goal of life to live experiences, not collecting things. Teach your children this early by concentrating your money on giving them fun experiences. Take them to a horse race, or a show, or a vacation. Worry about managing your time, not your possessions. Toys get discarded — memories never do.
Start the journey to make your life more rewarding now. You will never look back and regret it.
Gary S. Aumiller, Ph.D. ABPP
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