As I prepared to listen to TEDxBarcelona “Happy Maps” featuring Daniele Quercia, I wondered why I was drawn to this talk. At Yahoo! Labs in Barcelona, Daniele and his colleagues imagined new ways to use online maps to improve our lives. While his talk had certainly caught my attention, what did it have to do with mindful living? What might I learn that I could share with my readers?
It wasn’t long until I knew: taking the shortest way is not always the most enjoyable path in life. While Daniele was talking about distance – to be specific the most direct route for him on his bicycle to work each day – I began to imagine how this enchanting story could have deeper meaning. My mind was busy already!
While Daniele is part of a project to make “happy maps” – routes that bring pleasure for different reasons such as scenery or pleasurable seasonal scents – I was imagining how I might navigate my day-to-day “excursions” in a more pleasant way. What if I made my everyday tasks (especially the “boring” ones) into labors of love? For example, paying bills: I could use a lovely new pen and choose heart-warming stamps to complete the task. I could choose not to cook the ‘fastest’ meal for dinner but one that may take a few more minutes but brings the aroma of fresh garlic or sautéed shallots. And in my relationships: what if I spent a moment telling someone how much I appreciate something they have done before asking about a troublesome issue: not in a dishonest way, rather in an honoring way? How might taking a different route in the way I think and behave enhance my life and the life of others?
As Daniele explains, there is a difference between logic and imagination…a BIG difference and he speaks to this in this excellent TED talk. Give it a listen and see if what this engaging young man has to say speaks to you. As he states: “happy maps” take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way.” Why not try a new path? Where are you going to start? What might you imagine?