As we all launch this new year with big hopes and big dreams, I am also reminded that what ultimately makes us happiest is finding enjoyment in the everyday details of life. After all, we may have big splashy events, proud accomplishments, and exotic vacations to bring us joy sometimes…
The rest of the time, however, we are simply taking step after step to move our lives forward, and taking care of the everyday details of life, which may not always seem very glamourous or exciting.
I’m looking forward to living some big dreams this year, and am also reminding myself to practice joy in the little moments, which make up much of our days.
Finding Happiness in Life’s Little Moments
Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield has a wonderful book called, “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.” He reminds us that while we may have moments of spiritual awakening, bliss, and the joyful feeling of a job well done, there is also: the laundry.
In these human bodies, living on Planet Earth, some tasks are unavoidable if we want our lives to work. Laundry, dishes, showers, making the bed, shoveling the snow… There are tasks that may not always feel like fun, and yet must be done for our lives to run smoothly.
I am doing some work right now to clear our my closets and bookshelves, because I’ve accumulated a good deal of “stuff” and clutter over the years, and I want my home to feel clear, clean and open.
This means extra time spent on the house, and I’m practicing finding the joy in that!
The Gifts in the Everyday
I am working on goals and visions for this year and wanting to create on a bigger level than I ever have before. And, I’m practicing finding the gifts in all that I’m doing to make life run more smoothly by working on my house.
My house is a gift. I own a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was built in 1845, and it’s beautiful, with high ceilings, hardwood floors, ornamental fireplaces, archways, and pocket doors.
I’m working to open up the space again by clearing out extra books, clothes, and magazines that I’ve accumulated over time. I love my “stuff,” and yet I know there’s so much of it that I never touch.
I can give it away and benefit someone else, and create more open space for myself again. More clear open space means the energy will flow better, and I’m leaving space to create more.
Finding the Mini-Miracles
I also have an intention this year around miracles: asking for them, watching for them, journaling about them daily. I am finding mini-miracles in taking on these small tasks that help create a beautiful environment in my home.
Grocery shopping is another example. I went to Trader Joe’s Sunday night, and apparently got there right after the big weekend rush. Their supplies of vegetables and fruit were depleted.
A handsome young bearded employee wearing a lei came over to apologize for it. I let him know that him wearing the lei made up for everything, since it made me smile.
When I was checking out, the cashier started talking to me about New Year’s resolutions. He said that he had been meaning to write down a page full of affirmations and then tuck it into his wallet, so he’d see it every time he want to pay for something.
We talked about how affirmations are a practice, just like other spiritual practices. It’s not the act of writing them down initially that makes the difference, but repeatedly reading them until they become a part of our beliefs in our subconscious mind.
He said that he would go home and write them down that night. I loved it that our conversation helped him to move forward with an intention.
And I went home and wrote down a pageful of affirmations myself.
This is something I hadn’t been intending to do, and yet it just felt right. It was a little gift that came out of an evening of grocery shopping, which is a basic important task that ended up feeling very joyful.
I had some insightful moments that came from the simple task of going through mail! I’d been away for a few weeks over the holidays and had a big pile of mail and magazines to deal with.
I started going through the mail and found a copy of Oprah’s O Magazine partway through the pile. The cover described an article that would help you to “Do This One Thing… And Find Joy.”
I’m a bit of a joy junkie, and I decided that I would take a few minutes to read the article. Partway through the article, which was Oprah interviewing Brene Brown, Brene shared her thoughts on parenting.
I was moved to tears, and decided I had to send it to a friend of mine who is raising a beautiful little boy. I just knew it would resonate with him.
And indeed he was nearly moved to tears as well. There was an opportunity to share love that arose just from doing a basic household task that needed to be done.
Pairing Up to Make It More Fun!
I am going to partner up with a girlfriend to work on clearing out my closets and bookshelves. I think it’s more fun to do this work with someone else, and this friend of mine is always the most enthusiastic person at clothing swaps that I host for women friends.
I know she’ll be overjoyed to take some clothes off my hands, and to help me to decide what to give away to the local women’s shelter. I’ll feel better letting go of clothes I’m not using, and knowing that they will be making life better for other women.
I’m going to do all that I can this year to make the basic tasks of life really fun, whether that means playing dance music while I clean house, talking to a friend while doing dishes, partnering up with friends on certain tasks, and just being present in each moment no matter what I’m doing.
While watching for miracles, and seeing what arises daily, while doing the work to live my dreams in 2014, I’m also going to be loving life in the everyday moments!