…Or, Why Little Things to Great Things Lead
It seems that everybody these days wants to be happy. Which, of itself, isn’t a bad goal. It’s just not one that I think is sustainable.
What?! I hear you cry!
Before you switch off in disgust or start yelling at the screen, let me explain myself.
To my way of thinking, happiness is a big event in your life. It is a swelling of emotion from a constant background to a peak – usually associated with a particular moment or event – and then, inevitably, it subsides. Leaving the person who experienced that happiness looking for another hit. This is why I believe that although happiness has its place – and a very important place – in life, it cannot sustain either the spirit or the person from day to day.
Enter simple pleasures stage left.
Day to day, I aim to be content. Not exactly a fashionable attitude in this ‘must have the best’ world of ours, but an eminently sustainable one. Contentment is the background radiation to my life against which the surges of happiness and joy stand out in technicolour beauty; it is the constant that allows me to experience life in full, never dreading disappointment or the fear that I could never experience such joy, such emotion again for I know, day by day, that what I have, what I do, what I feel is enough. It is pleasure taken in being alive, in the simple pleasures of life, in nurturing my soul on a daily basis. It is the blanket of comfort I throw over my days knowing that if I am troubled or sick, in pain or down, that it will pass and I will once more be myself.
I never realised, until I deliberately thought about it, how many simple pleasures I have in life. Or how each little pleasure, stitched together into a larger whole, provides layers of comfort, of direction, of tiny joys burning into the fire of continual contentment.
The first sip of a really good cup of tea. The fragrant waft of steam from the open oven door when the loaf of bread is ready. Noticing something new whilst travelling a route taken every day. Discovering a new author. Taking notes as I read. The way polyphonic music both moves and soothes my soul simultaneously. Opening a new magazine and wondering what new lands I will journey to. That sudden lift of the heart on witnessing a bird take flight. Watching waves crash against the shore during a winter storm. Reading a cookery book, dreaming of the dishes I will someday conjure.
None of these things, taken singly, amount to much. Their power lies in the moment, that tiny little lift to the spirit that is then maintained by noticing the next small thing. This is the crux of contentment for me, the ritual of noticing the small graces of my existence and of acknowledging them, however silently.
Unless we keep an eye out for our little pleasures, they pass us by. We gulp the tea without tasting it, the steam from the oven is merely inconveniently hot, the route travelled just another task in the daily grind, the book or magazine just an hour’s diversion, the waves crashing on the shore only noise and wetness. Beauty unseen, joys dampened, comfort disdained.
Treasure the little moments, for they truly lead to great things.
Treasures hide where they may. Search for yours today.