"It's the little things in life." A lot of us have said it. I know I do, all the time. How often do you really buy into that saying though? Do you even notice "the little things"? Do you feel joy thinking about "the little things"? Do you point out "the little things" to others? Or like most people, are you so wrapped up in all the nonsense we make into "big things"?
My daughter, Charlotte, is three years old. While it is not all that uncommon for her to have an occasional meltdown, for the most part, she is so unbelievably enthusiastic about all of the little things in life, that it is hard for me to ignore.
"FLOWERS!!!!!!!!" she squeals on these first days of spring. "MOMMY, A BALLOON!!!!!!!" she exclaims at the sight of one. "I WANNA PUSH THE BUTTON!!!!!" she delights as she runs to the elevator. "MOMMY, YOU'RE HOME!!!!!" she announces euphorically when I return from work. Oh, how I wish I had that kind of excitement in life each day!
The other day I asked her, "Char, will you promise mommy that you will forever and always be this cute and sweet and enthusiastic about life?" Her response was, "No, mommy, I can't." While at the time, it was all I could do to not start hysterically laughing, it really made me think. Why can't we forever and always be that enthusiastic about life??? Why can't we feel that over-the-top, I'm-gonna-burst-I'm-so-excited, feeling every day?
Duplicating that extreme level of elation, may not be realistic for most people, but it is possible to sprinkle some of that joy into our lives. We just need to become more present. A client recently told me she walks to work through Central Park almost every day. She often gets to work and barely remembers how she got there. She tends to get so caught up in her thoughts about everything she wants to do and how she's going to manage getting it all done, that she misses out on the opportunity to freak out (in a good way) about all of the beauty surrounding her. This is a prime example of how most of us operate in life.
So, how exactly do we become more present so we can feel more of that goodness on a day to day basis? First, it sounds simple, but practice looking around. When I catch myself walking quickly down the street completely focused on getting to my destination, if I simply pause for a moment and look up, I feel in awe of New York City the way I was when I moved here fifteen years ago. Catch yourself, and see all the awesome around you!
Next, don't take life so seriously! Most of the things we think are a big deal, aren't, in the whole grand scheme of life. Take a deep breath, relax a little, and know that the calmer and happier we show up in the world, the smoother life flows. Getting worked up and being reactive, does not solve or fix anything. All it does is make you cranky.
My hubby often laughs at me because sometimes when I eat something new, and it's delicious, I get super excited and refer to it as special. Savor all of the "special" moments in your life. All of those "little things" add up, and with practice can start to feel big.
The world is full of wonder and beauty; you just need to pay attention. Some examples of things to note (in case you need a little extra help): hearing a baby giggle, your husband/wife/partner giving you a kiss when they come home, blossoms on trees in springtime, the smell when you walk into a bakery, the feeling of a cool breeze on your skin on a warm day, the sunshine peeking through on a cloudy day, a smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend, snuggling with your kids, finding a great parking spot, hearing a song on the radio that makes you want to sing, finishing a great book, a walk in the snow, morning coffee, sunsets, the sky, the sound of rain, letting chocolate melt on your tongue, and the list goes on and on.
Life is full of ups and downs. The more we learn to focus on the simple pleasures, the easier it is to cope during those times that may be more challenging. It really is the little things that fuel our souls. Once we start paying attention, more smiles, laughter, love and happiness are guaranteed!