One of the keys to a happy life is to fully experience the simple moments of pleasure that life brings your way. Too often we go through life missing out on the simple moments, never recognizing or experiencing the joy found in everyday things.
“Each today well-lived makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look therefore to this one day for it and it alone is life”. Sanskrit Poem
You have the power to rewire your brain to recognize and experience the happy moments. You can learn to experience moments of happiness as easily as you now experience moments of irritation and frustration. An average day offers the potential for both and it’s up to you which of these moments you will give your power to.
It’s easy to give up your power to the irritation, dwelling on it and making it bigger in your mind while letting go of the memory of the kind stranger. You gave away the happy moment, instead choosing to focus on the anger.
Try doing just the opposite. Immediately let go of the anger and take a moment to appreciate the thoughtful gesture of a door held open. Mentally linger on the happy moment. While it may seem like a small thing, so was the moment of irritation. Yet that moment could have filled you with a lingering irritation that caused you to snap at others, further spreading the irritation.
Your thoughts are very powerful. Your thoughts fuel your emotions with either positive or negative energy. You must become aware of what’s going on all around you in order to make a change.
Look for the thoughtful gestures. Perhaps your spouse or housemate did one of your chores. Is it your job to take out the garbage or empty the dishwasher? Are you supposed to feed the dog or make the bed? If someone did the chore for you, take notice. Think about how thoughtful it was. Even if the person had an ulterior motive, they still did the job for you and now you don’t have to.
Be aware, say thank you, and show your appreciation. Make a big deal out of it. Encourage that person to be thoughtful more often and you are creating future moments of happiness. A show of appreciation is a powerful gesture.
Compliments are often overlooked as well. Do you really notice when someone pays you a compliment? Good job, well done, you look nice, what a pretty dress, you’re so good at that, nice tie, nice haircut, what a clean house, you’re a good driver – these are all compliments that you should be fully aware of. Don’t shrug it off. Someone wanted to share a positive moment with you and you should take notice, perhaps offering that person a smile and a thank you in acknowledgment.
Happy moments come to us in many forms. A sweet note left on the counter, a letter in the mail, a text message or email that shares good news or positive thoughts all provide moments of shared happiness.
“All the windows of my heart I open to the day”. John Greenleaf Whittier
Opening the front door to a warm, sunny day after a cold spell offers the potential for a powerful moment of happiness. Stop running long enough to feel the sunshine. Stop, take a moment and notice the world around you. Look at the flower buds and the trees just coming into leaf. Feel the warmth of the sun on your face. Listen to the birds singing. Notice the pretty icicles melting. It only takes a moment to experience the moment. Take it all in before you go forth in a mad rush for the day.
What if it’s a gloomy day? What if it’s cold, windy and rainy? How can you find a moment of joy in this? Believe it or not, there are several possibilities depending on your plans for the day. If you’re staying home, look out the window at the miserable weather and appreciate how cozy and warm you are indoors. Isn’t it nice that you don’t have to go out on such a miserable day? Find an enjoyable indoor activity and embrace it.
You might have an amazing view out the window. Snow and ice offer a pretty winter landscape. Even rain and lightening can be fun to watch. Some people enjoy listening to the raindrops hitting the roof. Pour a cup of hot cocoa or tea and enjoy being comfy at home, watching the world unfold outside your window.
More often than not you’ll be forced to brave the elements to go to work, school or run errands. Pay attention to the people waiting at bus stops or walking down the street. Imagine how awful it must be not to have a car on such a miserable day. Become aware of your soft, comfy car seat and the heat blowing from the air vents, then look at the pedestrians again. Experience how nice it feels to be in your car versus the alternative.
“This instant is the only time there is”. A Course In Miracles
Don’t let life’s distractions take you out of the moment. The ability to enjoy a meal often gets lost in the shuffle. Don’t just go through the motions, enjoy your meals. Phone conversations, television and other people can take your mind off of the pleasure of eating. Be in the moment. Savor the flavor. Fully experience the taste, texture and smell of your favorite foods and beverages. Even if you partake of it every day such as a cup of coffee, be aware of how it tastes and smells. Don’t just stop to enjoy the rare treats, anything that tastes good to you is something to be savored. Imagine the joy you’ll share if you’re noticeably savoring a meal and the chef is nearby. Two people experiencing a happy moment together increases that happy moment many fold.
If you need someone to watch for examples, try watching children and pets. They are so in the moment. Children and pets don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow, they experience every moment as it comes. Each moment is alive in its own little bubble, insulated from all the other moments. Set aside thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow, this morning and tonight, and embrace this very moment in its own right. Be as a child again and experience the simple joys in life. Don’t dilute the moment with mental distractions.
“As you grow older you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do”. Zachary Scott
Set aside your adulthood and experience the world as you once did. Were you a jigsaw puzzle addict, board game fiend, or did you prefer to explore the woodlands? Maybe you loved to roller skate, bicycle or swim. Whatever you most enjoyed as a child, try it again now. Buy a puzzle, play a game or go hiking in the woods. Start bicycling or skating again. You’d be amazed to discover that the inner child in you still enjoys the world.
Happiness is a habit that can be learned. At first it may feel forced and unnatural. Taking a moment to experience a sunny day may seem silly. Studying a bug on a tree branch may seem like child’s play. Noticing kind deeds and saying thank you might feel too small to make an impact on your life. The whole endeavor might feel fake to you.
Stay with it and give it time. You didn’t learn to read in a week. You spent years in school learning how to read. Isn’t the potential for a happier life worth a little effort?
Happy moments are cumulative. They add up like pennies in a jar. Twenty pennies doesn’t feel like much but thousands of pennies add up to real dollars. Every single day has 1440 potential moments that can fill your jar with happiness.
Small moments of joy are all around you. Pet lovers can stop to appreciate the humorous antics and love from their pets. Parents can take a moment to notice a simple gift from a child and the love that gift represents. Hugs from anyone should always feel good. Never let a moment of kindness or thoughtfulness go by without feeling the love. By fully experiencing the many small moments of goodness in your life, you will be creating the foundation for a happier life.
“There is no such thing in anyone’s life as an unimportant day”. Alexander Woollcott
(Photo © Anita Patterson. Image from BigStockPhoto.com)