“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not the inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

—Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Today, my twenty-third birthday, seems like a good a day to stop and reflect on the things that make life worth living. This year my birthday gift to myself is to give more space to the people and things that make life good. Happy birthday to me; may this be the best year yet…

Complaining versus Celebrating

Complaining is silly. Either act or forget. —Stefan Sagmeister

We complain about everything anymore. We complain when our food isn’t prepared as fast as we’d like. We complain when someone pulls in front of us on the highway. We complain about people around us. We complain about poor typography and bad kerning. We complain when a company updates their classic logo. We ask for change but then complain when it actually happens.

I was pulling up an article on Wikipedia on my phone this afternoon and it wasn’t loading as fast as I wanted it to. “Oh come on,” I thought to myself, “the 3G service here is terrible.” And then I caught myself. Wait a minute. I have the internet on my phone. I can hold it in the palm of my hand. What right do I have to complain about a website taking a few extra minutes to load?

I think it’s much more redemptive to celebrate the things that make us happier and our lives easier than complain about the things that don’t. Comedian Louis C.K said “Everything is amazing right now but nobody is happy.” Instead of complaining about my 3G speeds, I could be celebrating that I can pull up one of the handful of books I have on my phone to read when I’m eating lunch. The one I’m reading now is about a sailer who encounters a large whale. I downloaded it for free.

Or how about how the wind blows through my hair as I walk to class in the morning holding a hot cup of coffee? Or maybe the way the sun makes a beautiful grid pattern on my wall mid afternoon as my room is bathed in gold. Or what of that new auto dark mode in the most recent Instapaper release? Now, that is something to celebrate!

Complaining is easy. Complaining doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t make anything better and it doesn’t fix that thing we are complaining about.

So here’s to the small moments in life that make everything better. Complaining is silly. I’d rather celebrate.

“The very best form of self-promotion is celebration. To celebrate is to share the joy of what you do (and critically also celebrate what others do) and invite folks to participate in the party. To show off is a weakness of character — an act that demands acknowledgement and accolade before the actor can feel the tragic joy of thinking themselves affirmed. To celebrate is to share joy. To show-off is to yearn for it.”