It can be a bit of a scary world out there, and at times I find myself worrying about worst case scenarios. When we went away to Paris recently, particularly because of events there in recent months, I found it difficult to relax. I often do in large cities, on planes, or in unfamiliar surroundings. A number of you commented saying how much you liked the city, and I was conscious of wanting to enjoy it and see the beauty rather than feel fear.
Co-incidentally, before we went, I picked up a copy of Psychologies magazine, and there was an article about "not being terrified by terrorism". It made useful suggestions about managing worrying thoughts, and recognising that they often reflect a situation we have seen on television, or in the news, but not what is happening to us in that moment. Instead, it suggested concentrating on the reality of the situation you were in and "present-moment living", taking in the beauty of your surroundings.
While in theory it seemed logical, I found it difficult to apply! It was fine in a peaceful hotel room, but out in the bustling city, I could see what a lovely place it was but it seemed too soon to dismiss those events as distant and unlikely. My brain wouldn't simply dissociate what could happen and what had happened from the present moment. Then we visited Notre Dame, and The Husband pointed out a quote on a poster. It stood out, in some ways for the wrong reasons, as a glossy, modern display board in the middle of the glorious architecture. It was a picture of Pope Francis, and beside it a quote, which included the phrase "have the courage to be happy". It stuck, and as I sat in a pew, I kept mulling it over, and it felt more powerful than the advice about being in the moment. I realised that it allowed room to recognise that the world can be scary, to accept that bad things can and do happen, often unexpectedly, but also highlighted the importance of enjoying the good, and focussing on the positive anyway.
It wasn't a sudden revelation, and I didn't immediately stop worrying. But it did give me a simple way of thinking, that suddenly made it easier to wander around the city and appreciate it properly. An almost gentle defiance, to make the very best of life, rather than live in fear, to have the willpower to enjoy each day as best you can. I have carried on reflecting on it since, and it does feel a little like an anti-dote to those worst-case scenario thoughts, although they are not as prevalent back in familiar surroundings. It does, even so, serve as a reminder to notice the good things, and take the chances to be happy as they come. This weekend has been filled with a theatre trip with my Grandad, a delicious meal with The Husband, and a slightly mind-boggling day having an initial look at prams, and travel seats, and nursery furniture. There is much to be happy about indeed!