Monday, October 19, 2009
The Secret of Happiness is Small Frequent Moments of Gratitude
(Tulips pushing up through the snow in my backyard. This picture always brings to mind a favorite quote: "In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invicible summer." Albert Camus)
"I come in the little things, saith the Lord." Evenlyn Underhill
If you want to know the secret to joy, it is not found in all the big things you dream about. For the big things, like a baby's birth or fresh-found love, or the dream house, dream job or dream car only come around infrequently, and who can afford to put their joy on hold for the rare Big Moments?
No, the secret of people who keep their child-heart alive is that they collect small joys one after another and pause, just briefly, to notice and be grateful. They collect small bits of happiness until they pile up, like a bowl of sea shells, or strings of pearls, or a bouquet of wild flowers.
Here's a poem from a very old book that I came across today, that reminded me to quit waiting for "When the Big Event Happens" ... as I have only to look around, in this very moment, this very room, to find joy.
I HAVE FOUND SUCH JOY
I have found such joy in simple things;
A plain, clean room, a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk, a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight glimmers through a door.
I have found such joy in things that fill
My quiet days; a curtain's blowing grace.
A potted plant upon my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut and placed within a vase;
A table cleared, a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved beside me there.
Oh, I have found such joys I wish I might
Tell every woman who goes seeking far
For some elusive, feverish delight,
That very close to home the great joys are;
The elemental things - old as the race,
Yet never, through the ages, commonplace
by Grace Noll Crowell
It is so easy to let concerns, worries and fears overtake our minds and overshadow the goodness in the present moment. I usually find that my peace is stolen the minute I ruminate over yesterday's mistakes or losses; or worry about some supposed upcoming disaster. When I can corral my mind to the here and now and look around for the small blessings that are mine in this moment, I get "centered" and relax and remember the happiness I'd temporarily forgotten. My biggest A-Ha moment of the past few months is that when I need strength to face today or tomorrow, the most reliable place to find it is ask God to open my eyes to the joy that is already mine. Then to hold, savor, give thanks for all the small blessings within my reach. When I am filled back up with joy, I find that strength comes, almost as a side-gift, by the way.
So I don't pray for strength as much as I pray for joy. Because when joy arrives, courage, clarity, strength and wisdom seem to just tag along as well.