Want Happiness? Think Small.
I feel strongly about looking for the small things in life in order to find happiness.
Yes, I am a hypocrite.
It pains me to admit I don’t always look for the small things. There are days I just don’t find them, mainly because some days I only focus on myself, on what I need to get done. I slap on a thick pair of blinders and race through my day, only seeing the obstacles that are too big to step over. Those days, I’m not very happy. I’m agitated, frustrated, annoyed, and, at best, just there, nothing good, nothing bad.
It’s okay to admit when we fail as long as we get back up each time we fall (hang on while I dust off and then we’ll get started).
Big events, big ticket items we want, don’t make us happy in the long run.
We all feel (at some point in our life) that if only we had (insert whatever material item that is out of budget reach) we’d have happiness because our lives would be so easy. I’ve been in this trap. My laptop was having issues and writing was difficult and I could do so much more if I had a computer that worked. Then I got the computer that worked. And I was still distracted. All those videos I couldn’t play before, I could play without buffering. Later I was distracted by a compatibility issue with my software and hardware. It sucked.
We all understand material items don’t necessarily bring happiness. But big life events do. A major moment in life, wakes us up and angels sing and we learn our lesson and we become fabulously productive or more appreciative or we overcome whatever is holding us back.
That doesn’t work either.
My family discovered this when we were busy painting, tiling, and re-carpeting our house along with working and tending to everyday chores and errands. Our twins were five and our oldest was eleven. Even though we were stressed we didn’t back off from our vision, we pushed forth each day, despite the twins breaking out in a head-to-toe rash from the paint fumes. Outside air alleviated the rash and we continued forth.
Then I got a call. “Mom?” and the tone of my son’s voice stilled my movements. Everything ceased. He had just left on his bike to meet some friends. He’d only been gone maybe ten minutes. My first thought was Oh my Lord, he got hit by a car. I could hear sirens in the background…both from the phone and the open windows.
He’d been hit by a car. My first gut thought was right. Thankfully, he was able to call me himself. And in the grand scheme of things, he was okay. He was bruised, had road rash down one side of his body, had a small cut above his eye, and had a shredded elbow. But he was standing and he was here.
And, like any monumental moment, my husband and I realized we’d put the family on the back burner and that’s not where family belongs.
So we stopped. We focused on our kids, we spent time doing things together, watching shows, taking a ferry ride, going into the city. We slowly finished our projects and rejoiced that we had learned a lesson.
Skip ahead a few years and our lesson diminished.
We got busy in life again. And we slowly fell back into our old ways.
The big things cause us to notice our deficiencies. Which is good, but knowing doesn’t necessarily fill the gap. We might put some sand in the hole. But it gets swept away with the ebb and flow of life. We need support beams and cement. To do that requires rebuilding our foundations.
It requires being thankful for the smallest events, the smallest gestures, the smallest trinkets.
Literally, we need to stop and appreciate the sun streaking out from behind clouds.
It takes work. It takes reflecting each day on small things that could have turned our day miserable. Making three green lights might not seem like such a great deal, but if we had to stop for all three red lights, we’d count that to our day’s woes.
Even when we are in jobs we don’t like, we need to take the small pleasures when we can. Maybe that one coworker, you know the one, nitpicking, ego-centric, does-no-wrong, was gone all day at a conference. Yeah, maybe we wanted to go to that conference, but we need to relish that we don’t have them over our shoulder for that day.
Start the happiness hunt today.
Because some days just really stink, share the small things you find in the comments. Open our eyes to something that we may also count as a happy find. Maybe you had the exact change at the grocery store, maybe you got a $2 coupon for that one product you’ve wanted to try AND (double-goodies) it’s on sale.
The Constitution doesn’t promise us happiness; it just says we have the right to pursue it. So let’s tie up our sneakers and find it.