May 19, 2010

The Art of Happiness

"For most of life, nothing wonderful happens. 
If someone bases happiness
on major events like 
a great new job, huge amounts of money, 
a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, 
that person isn't going to be happy much of the time. 
If, on the other hand, 
happiness depends on 
a good breakfast, 
flowers in the yard, 
a drink or a nap, 
then we are more likely to live with 
quite a bit of happiness."
~by the ever-wise Andy Rooney

This morning I tweeted out that I was in hard-boiled egg heaven because all seven of my just-cooked eggs slid right out of their cute little brown shells with the same ease as I put away my winter coat this spring  . . I'm talking eggshells nearly dropping off in half-shell pieces. I realized, while I stood at the sink for a mere 45 seconds, that I was sucking on a virtual piece of bit'o'honey. The moment tasted sweet. Happy if you will.
So, I thought I'd break my blogging silence of late with a post about these kinds of moments of simple, sheer happiness. And exactly how we can go about having more of them in our lives. We all want that . . . being in a good state of mind goes miles and miles toward reaching our weight and fitness goals (and any other kind of goal for that matter), and makes a strong contribution to our ultimate success. And, we all want that.
I realize, tho, that as soon as we try to formulate something like happiness, we've kind of missed the point because happiness is one of those pleasures that just, well, happens. Like when I peeled the first hard-boiled egg and the shell was just so darn cooperative that I eagerly grabbed the next and wondered if it'd be the same. Happiness. You just can't plan that kind of thing. 
On the other hand, if I EXPECT that the shells WILL slide right off every time, then every time they don't, I'm disappointed. Frustrated. Impatient. And, we all know who wins when we grow impatient with stubborn eggshells!
On a bigger scale, we can start to see how this kind of reaction and mindset can quickly get us into trouble. When our goals are frustrated, we lose our peace. When friends and loved ones struggle, it derails us. When our moods are less than positive, we talk ourselves into indulgence. When life isn't perfect, we complain. We simply expect a rose garden, and when we get poked with a thorn our myopic vision keeps us from seeing that the two go perfectly, naturally together.

That's why I love the simplicity of Andy Rooney's words so much. As soon as I complicate my life, my expectations necessarily reach for the sky as a means of survival. And, I don't mean a staircase to heaven. There is just no room for messing up, for delays or for taking time to heal before continuing on. There is no room for all the life that happens when we aren't looking, the little miracles right in front of our eyes every single day that were made just for us, or worse we haven't the time to notice the troubled look in a friends eyes or the silent cry of a child in trouble.

Frustrations, struggles, bad moods and imperfection are part of life. But, what we decide to do with these little bumps in the road will often determine how far down the road we get. And how much happiness we ultimately experience.
If we allow them to dictate our happiness on the journey, we'll probably hang out around the bumps longer than we should, analyze them dozens of times over, measure their height, wonder if there's any way around them, and in the process end up digging a nice little rut for ourselves there on the side of the road.
So, what I'd really love is if you, my awesome readers, woulc comment with some of the simple pleasures in life that make you happy. I really can't wait to hear what you've got to say! Please add in your comment, no answer is too foolish or little or dumb.  This should be you guys! 



  1. Oh, where do I begin. Pretty much all the minutes in the sun with my kids playing outside. Everyone is happy. They are old enough to not have to be hand held, so I can actually talk to a friend or read a magazine. Another happiness moment is going to the grocery store with Gabe (3yo). He narrates the entire shopping experience with energy and pizzaz and NO breaks. It cracks me up! I love those moments! Great post Cheryl!
    Heidi Munson

  2. What a great idea. Yesterday I sat in my basement office and watched through the door as my son, home from college with a friend, had several high school buddies over. They ate the cookies I had baked and played video games and laughed and talked. I eavesdropped and was happy in the moment.

  3. Great POST!!! I loved this, yes happiness is almost always in the little things and it happens without us looking for it and often without us seeing it. For me it was breakfast on my deck yesterday, the way the organic strawberries tasted like REAL strawberries, the swirl on the top of my coffee and the warm sun on me. Other times, it's the way my kitties smell when we go to sleep and the way we are taken care of everyday by the creator.

  4. My simple pleasures:
    When my husband brings me my coffee.
    My little dog asleep in my lap.
    The first blooms of spring plants.
    A nice visit with an old friend.
    A good book.
    Walking through my neighborhood in the sunshine.
    Trying a new recipe and having it turn out great.

  5. @Heidi Those precious moments with our kids are some of my most memorable happy moments too! I have this photo of my three boys all sitting in front of the fire place before church on a Sunday...and every time I look at it, I remember how seldom they looked so shiny!

    @Karen OMG, yes, conversations by or with our kids when they get older is one of life's most fun things...we get to enjoy them in a whole new way!

    @Mary I had the most delectable pot of french press coffee this morning, sitting on a couch for three hours with a new friend this morning! Talk about happiness!

    @Jo And none of those things really cost any money! Just little gifts waiting for us to open every day! LOVE it!

  6. Hearing the wind in the trees.
    Hearing the birds chirp.
    Seeing baby ducks on the canal.

  7. @Christina Uh huh, the sounds of nature, the FEEL of nature whether its sunshine, rain, wind...definitely happy-making ingredients for me too!