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How to find happiness in life

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.

Also, if you enjoyed this article please consider tweeting it or giving it a mention on facebook. Thank you so much.

Picture credit:  Bobb Fwed

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5090/5248561398_8d6cc1a870.jpg

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Maria Frid August 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm

Thank you Chris for this gentle peek into your life. Yes, happiness has eluded humankind for a very long time. We do sense that it is our birthright; it is even in our US Declaration of Independence, the right to pursue happiness. Yet pursuing indicates that it is not present and not a part of our beingness, is that not the great illusion.

I love resting in your words, “Happiness is so close”. relaxing here where I am, enjoying whatever task in front of me, taking a trip, buying a car, etc. Realizing that life is precious opens the door to contentment and understanding. I am grateful for your insights Chris!

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Christopher Foster August 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hi Maria, thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, the Founders took a brave and essential step, but we are all evolving rightly, aren’t we. And one sign of our essential maturing is surely the willingness to take a second look at any of our prior beliefs and experiences.

They may still be very valid and true, but — so often — life has moved on and there is a new realization and awareness waiting to be born isn’t there? Again and again and again.

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Hilary August 10, 2011 at 1:46 am

Hi Chris .. you set out so many points in your story .. don’t procrastinate – get the jobs done … enjoy your time … the earth gives us pleasure .. and those so many little things can make us so comfortable and pleased with their doing … Delighted to read .. thanks Hilary

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Christopher Foster August 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Bless you Hilary. Life has so much promise doesn’t it. When we were very small we all felt that sense of promise and excitement and wonder, unlimited potential, the remarkable thing is it is still present. Happy to share the journey with you. Take care.

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Gail Brenner (AFlourishingLife) August 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

I absolutely love this post, Chris. It is about the ordinary moments of life. No need to seek out blissful experiences or even think that what we have is not enough. If we truly, fully experience one moment all the way, life will never be the same. Thank you for paving the road to happiness with so much heart.

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Christopher Foster August 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thank you Gail. Your thoughts are beautiful and very moving. I especially love this one: “Truly experience one moment all the way and life will never be the same.” What a challenge is in those few words. And yet what a promise. I think it is a promise that has been with us all our lives.

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Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition August 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

Christopher,
I’ve always found that it is the simple things in life that make me happy too. Taking a walk and being out in nature always perks me up. Running into a neighbor and chatting makes me happy and reminds me of how much I enjoy being part of my community. I also agree that knocking off those chores takes a weight off my shoulders and is completely satisfying too!

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Christopher Foster August 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

Lovely thoughts Angela, thank you so much for sharing them. I love what you say about consciously enjoying the community where you live. I take your words to heart. Blessings.

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Tess The Bold Life August 13, 2011 at 10:11 am

It’s easy to get swept away on the aspiration treadmill always chasing and striving. Happiness lies within, no where else, no other place or time. Happy Saturday.

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Christopher Foster August 14, 2011 at 10:16 am

Tess, thank you so much for stopping by. Absolutely. It’s not fun spending our life on a treadmill. We always have a choice don’t we.

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Chrysta Bairre August 13, 2011 at 11:27 am

I loved this article and it ties beautifully into something I heard this morning- all I need to do is be open, honest and willing.

This morning I also reflected on the wonderful sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with completing simple, manual tasks. And this thought occurred to me as I walked by our yard, eyeing the weeds popping up through the rock and mulch.

Thanks for the inspiration on this lovely Saturday morning!

p.s. We’re practically neighbors! I live in Fort Collins. :)

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Christopher Foster August 14, 2011 at 10:08 am

So happy to hear from you Chrysta. It’s good to be practically neighbors! Have a great time in your yard:-)

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Ken Wert August 22, 2011 at 1:43 am

Thanks for sharing these moments with us, Christopher!

I think your advice to take interest in others can be so fulfilling. I try to encourage people all the time to strike up conversations with people waiting in lines, riding an elevator. I have met so many fascinating people this way.

I wish you an amazing week full of more moments of love and joy!
Ken Wert recently posted..Live instead of Die

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