Possible side effects include moments of spontaneous gratitude, pure joy, a desire to live fully while we can, and an urge to give back.
When my Granddaughter Sophie was seven, she came home from school with a completed project titled, Les Petits Bonheurs. (small pleasures) This project was a booklet where she had illustrated a “small joy” on each page. I was so touched with the wisdom of her teacher and the small joys that Sophie had written and illustrated that I decided on the spot that I would do the same, although, I chose to use photographs rather than drawings.
In so doing I was struck by the impact Japanese Psychology had played in helping me to notice all the small joys in my ordinary moments. In fact the practice of “paying attention,” is in itself a joy because it reminds me every day, in the midst of obstacles and confusion, to look and see what else there is to notice beyond the default of the obvious.
Life can be messy
Yet, I can take a moment and enjoy the beautiful blue of my breakfast bowl. A bowl that a potter, unbeknownst to me, built, glazed, and fired in a kiln many miles away, which I now get to use. I can notice the skill of the lab tech who carefully and kindly, draws blood from my small and rolling veins. I no longer take for granted the helping hands; the red cardinal; the first peony; the golden light prior to sunset; the open arms of my grandchild or the extraordinary kindness of my Mother. All of these beautiful, significant and ordinary moments are many times in clear view.
In troubled times, it is easy to believe that life is bleak, and there are undeniable bleak moments for us all. Yet, there is also the truth that kindness is rampant, and beauty is everywhere, whether we notice or not. The practice of noticing, using a wide-angle lens, gives us a chance to expand our view. And with that we rejuvenate, experience gratitude, and possibly consider what we can do today to make the world a better place, right where we are.
Paying attention to small joys tends to open hearts, eyes, and minds to see more clearly the reality and wonder of this day, like no other, with its endless flow of beauty and surprise. I heartily recommend this practice, in the midst of daily life, for ourselves, and as a way to be a small joy for others.
Note 1:) When I was in Japan six years ago, I witnessed this scene many times of a younger person not just helping but caring for an older woman or man who needed help. I was deeply touched and inspired by these ordinary moments of kindness. This was a small joy for me.
Note 2:) It is one month today that our dear Mother died. She taught us to notice the small joys and to show appreciation in word and deed. My sister and I naturally miss our Mother, but we don’t wish her back. She lived a long and good life and we see her, and her delight, in all the little things: dragonflies; wild strawberries; sunsets; moon rises and cheese scones. All the commonplace things so easy to miss unless you pay attention.
Note 3:) I have received and continue to receive beautiful words of comfort. Thank you! I deeply appreciate your kindness in every single word. Thanks for dropping by and I will be back next week. A deep bow to you all, Trudy