How to find happiness in life? It's a question that has been around for a long time. But personally, I don't think we have to look too far to find the answer.
I've nothing against looking "beyond" to exotic possibilities such as a new relationship, a new Mercedes, or an exciting vacation somewhere far away. But what I experience is that true happiness, lasting happiness is something that happens in little moments -- and in little tasks. Little tasks that perhaps (I hate to confess this) I was secretly trying to avoid.
A strange impulse came over me
Consider the strange impulse that came over me around six o'clock the other evening when JoAnn and I finished watching the evening news. There were two small jobs that I knew needed doing in or around our little townhouse but which I had been putting off for a day or two -- heck, let’s be honest here, for weeks or even months.
Suddenly, the thought arose in me, "I could do these jobs right now."
I call the impulse “strange" because when you get to be 79, and when the clock passes 6 p.m., you might think you're entitled to take the rest of the day off.
But I'm so glad I listened to the nudge that life brought to me. I cleaned out and tidied the garage, which had been a disaster area ever since we moved into our townhouse a year or more ago, and was home to half the dust in Denver.
Then it was on to the weeds
Knowing I was on a roll, I didn't stop there. I was having so much fun that I decided to do the weeding at the front and back of the house that I have conveniently ignored for weeks.
What I want to report to you is the simple realization that little moments and little tasks really do carry the seed of true happiness in them. The joy I knew last evening was twofold. I enjoyed doing the work. But I also find it's a pleasure now to enter or exit the garage -- while every time I pass by the flower bed in front of the house my eyes gleam with satisfaction. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Happiness is so close
You want some more examples of how close happiness really is? I stepped out of the house to take my early morning walk, and there was a neighbor weeding some flowers on top of some large boulders that sit behind our row of townhouses.
This lady is aging, but aging well. She is in her 80s. But there she was, moving around these giant boulders like a small child -- and having just as good a time as a small child.
It was a pleasure talking with her and simply being with her for a few moments. And it was a pleasure, as I was walking away, to look back and see how carefully and deliberately she eased herself back to the ground after finishing her task. She has a youthful, unconquerable spirit but that doesn't mean she doesn't take care of her body.
Then I met one of my favorite dogs
On I went with my walk, until some distance away I noticed one of my favorite dogs standing on the path outside its house looking at me. It's a tiny little creature named Kelly and it was keeping its owner company while she sat in her porch and read the morning newspaper.
Kelly was abused in an earlier life and came from an animal shelter. So she’s a bit frightened and sensitive. I was wondering whether to walk over and say hello to the little mutt when she took matters into her own paws and began walking toward me.
It was a good little walk actually. And being such a tiny little creature, it took her awhile to get to me. But finally, there she was, looking up at me as I stretched out my hand to pet her.
As I say, she has had a troubled past, and you can see the trouble still lingering in her eyes. But you can see something else there too. Love. Kelly just wants to love and be loved, like we all do. It was a simple moment – but a magical moment.
How to stay happy and fulfilled
So how do we stay happy and fulfilled in life? We stay open to the love that is being expressed all around us through such an amazing variety of forms and people and creatures. While at the same time contributing our own love to the healing and wellbeing of the planet.
A few last thoughts.
1. Let go of preoccupation
Slow down and smell the roses, as they say. When you let a little stillness into your life something shifts. You stop being so preoccupied with your thoughts and concerns and you have room in your heart to see the magic of existence in you and around you.
2. Be interested in other people
It costs nothing to be interested in other people and in what is going on in their lives. People feel it when you are expressing a genuinely friendly attitude and they feel it when you appreciate them. Happiness inevitably increases.
3. Be genuine
Above all, be yourself. Be who you truly are. The wisdom of the ages is in you, and it will guide you surely to the fulfillment and the destiny that is right for you as you listen to its gentle nudge in your heart.
Any moment will do to be happy. The simplest, most unglamorous task will suffice. I send you love and blessings and would be delighted to hear from you if you have any thoughts on this post.
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Picture credit: Bobb Fwed