Did we need something big to happen to remember the joy of small things in life?
My mindfulness practice has led me to discover the joy in ordinary things in my daily life in the last couple of years. Many things that I used to call cheesy became my routines to give me happiness in the days where I don’t have anything interesting happening. Some days I simply enjoy the sunlight shining in my neighborhood while I’m walking for work. Some days it’s just getting a cinnamon bun from my favorite bakery in the city. But how did I switch perspective towards enjoying simplicity?
For most of us, the easiest way to become aware of simple things in life starts with a gratitude routine.
But I will not tell you to list 3 things that you are grateful for in your journal. Writing doesn’t necessarily make it true. What makes it meaningful is the feeling that the moment gives you. We hear in the spiritual world that when you feel truly grateful for something in your life, you attract the same energy. It doesn’t sound wrong, right? Would you go to someone that complains a lot about you not being there? I bet no. That’s why we should cultivate the feeling of gratitude for small things instead.
When you see a beautiful sunset, embrace the moment, and simply be there. Don’t judge the ugly building in the same place. Be there with your senses open in the moment. If your mind quickly takes you to judge something else at that moment, it gives you a message about how long you can enjoy something that you find genuinely beautiful. But this is still part of your mindfulness practice. Because mindfulness doesn’t tell you to be happy all the time. It tells you to accept all feelings as they are and release whatever is not serving you anymore. Noticing is the first step. If you noticed that you can’t enjoy a moment for a long time, well done! You took the first step to mindfulness.
The next step is to practice joy in your daily life. Yes, it comes with practice if it doesn’t come to you naturally. You can start by thinking about 10–15 things that give you joy in a very ordinary moment and try to bring awareness to those things when they are happening. Be cheesy as much as you want. What is important is to think about moments that don’t require the existence of other beings. It is pretty easy to feel happy when we share a moment with someone else. It is more fun and distracting to take us away from the crowd in our heads. The important thing is to still feel happy when there is nothing major happening in our lives.
The current lockdown obliged us to find happiness in our homes, where we have limited options to enjoy the day. It is a powerful starting point to bring awareness to many people at the same time. It invites us to slow down and not wait for the outer sources to make us happy. We suddenly found joy in just baking banana bread, enjoying the fresh air out of our windows, going for grocery — although it is quite like an adventure. We miss eating ice cream outside, drinking the bad coffee in the office and the list is full of things that we didn’t acknowledge our privilege to have them before.
But these are daydreams about the near future. Until we find the new normality, there is no place else to be than the present moment. Start right now by filling the gap between the now and waiting for something big to happen.