"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy." - Guillaume Apollinaire
When life gets stressful or unmanageable, I’ve found the best thing to do is to put my attention on simple, small things that bring a measure of happiness.
Some years ago, during a very challenging time, I found it nearly impossible to focus on anything except the unfolding drama and the emotional impact of the situation. Life felt so overwhelming that one day I decided to just stop thinking about the issues at hand, and took a look around me.
I saw trees. Beautiful trees stretching their branches upwards, trees full of birds and squirrels, and trees just being calm and peaceful. Because I love trees, I decided to give myself periodic “tree breaks” for a minute or two whenever I felt overloaded. My goal was to take a brief moment to stop whatever I was doing or thinking, and just look at and appreciate trees! As I did this, I felt my stress level lower, my happiness level raise, and found I could suddenly think a little bit more clearly and breathe a little bit more deeply.
Looking at trees and noticing the calming effects of these “micro-appreciation" moments, led me to think about other ways to give myself mini joy-breaks when I needed them. This practice evolved into a simple and fun form of self-care. My morning cup of coffee became an opportunity to take a focused, quiet minute. I allowed myself to be exactly where I was in the present moment, with my attention on the aroma and taste. I asked myself to not think about anything else but simply enjoying my cup of coffee, as if it were a small gift I could appreciate - for just that little bit of time.
When our To Do list is too long, when the forces around us feel overwhelming, or when we find ourselves thinking and rethinking the same thoughts over and over again - try taking a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there, to quiet the mental distractions and pay full attention to one simple thing that brings you a small measure of happiness. A flower. A lovely picture or photo. A thought about your loved one. It doesn’t take much effort and definitely not much time.
I realize this idea may sound silly to some people! But, I’ve found that these little moments of self-care can have powerful effects in alleviating the big stresses of daily life. Appreciating the small, simple joys can truly support our greater happiness and grand plans.
Until next time – be inspired!