Archives for posts with tag: taking in the good

It’s a lovely Saturday. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop, doing things with tools and wood. I am in my studio, taking time for art, study, meditation, and writing. My second coffee is down to it’s last tepid sip, and sunshine filters through the leaves of the pear tree beyond the window. It’s a nice moment. I sit with it awhile. I don’t need more, or different. This, right here, is enough.

Nothing fancy, just a view.

I don’t know what the rest of the day holds, or the week ahead, or what next year will be like. Right now, none of that matters; I’ve got this moment, here. It’s not fancy or exciting or extraordinary. It’s actually quite simple, a bit unremarkable, and there is nothing much about it significant enough to be especially share-worthy. That’s actually why I am sharing it. We get so used to chasing “happiness”, seeking novelty, excitement, or diversion, we forget to enjoy the simple pleasant moments life offers up pretty generously, much of the time. We wonder when life feels constrained, frustrating, disappointing, or filled with futility and sorrow, why there’s nothing pleasant to rely on… but don’t often acknowledge what we did (or more to the point, didn’t) do to build that “reference library” of personal joy to reflect on, and savor in less satisfying times. I can’t honestly “help you” with that, though, aside from pointing out how much importance your presence in your own experience really has for you.

One moment, experienced thoroughly, savored in recollection. Still nothing fancy. Just a moment.

In the simplest terms, if you want an implicitly pleasant and positive sense about your experience of “life in general” – an “upbeat outlook on life” – you’ve got to cultivate that, and one sure path to that destination is to be truly present, conscious, and involved in living the small pleasant moments in life. There are verbs involved. Practice. Incremental change over time. It’s the sort of thing others will observe has changed about you, before you are wholly aware a change has occurred. Savoring the moments, however simple, of contentment, quiet joy, or everyday satisfaction, builds that database of positive feelings and experiences that become the foundation of our outlook on “life in general”. It’s not all about the extreme joys of great moments; those moments are beyond “every day”, and we know that.

One coffee, one moment – but the picture is not the beverage.

I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” with a soft smile on my face, contemplating some little thing my partner said that warmed my heart or supported me. I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” watching fish swim in my aquarium, or how the light streams into a particular window in a particular way. I don’t grudge myself contented moments flipping through the pictures and origin stories in favorite cookbooks. The time spent is meaningless out of context, and precious beyond measure enjoyed whole-heartedly on some small thing that satisfies. It’s not the time itself that matters, so much as what it is spent on. πŸ™‚ Time spent content or joyful is definitely worthwhile, however simply spent. My opinion. Works for me. (Your results may vary.)

Still smiling, coffee finished, and having written a few words on a quiet Saturday… I think about the world beyond these walls, and wonder about taking a walk. Certainly, this feels like a good time to begin again. πŸ™‚

 

I started the morning with meditation. Coffee came later. πŸ™‚ Nice morning for it. Not much to say about it. Pleasant morning.

It’s a work day, in the time of the pandemic. I am grateful to be employed. I’m grateful to be housed. I’m grateful that so much is going to so well in my life right now. I sip my coffee and sit quietly with thoughts of what is going well, what feels good, what is working out smoothly. Thoughts of sufficiency, thoughts of contentment.

…The point is not that my life is perfect, the point is to spend more time “dwelling on” what is going well, rather than investing that time in ruminations of what “sucks”, what “isn’t working out”, what is “holding me back”, or things that are painful, problematic, or inconvenient. Seriously. It’s a key practice I can’t recommend strongly enough; spend more time contemplating what is working, what is pleasant, and what you enjoy in your life, than you do fussing or bitching about what isn’t going as well. It has the potential to change your implicit experience of life, to change your actual brain, and could result in a more pleasant experience of life, generally. It also just feels better.

We don’t just find our “happy place” – we also create (or destroy) it.

…Isn’t “feeling better” one of the things we’d all like to do? “Being” a “pessimist” (or someone who is very negative about life) is not a permanent affliction (doesn’t have to be, anyway) – you can choose. πŸ™‚ Yes, I’m even suggesting that in the face of living a “terrible” set of circumstances, it is possible to have a better experience than you may be having… with some carefully chosen practices, practiced with care and consistency, over time. No guarantee, of course; I’m not an expert, nor a doctor. My results have varied, surely yours will, also. Still… over the past decade I’ve gone from being a very cynical, rather bitter, wholly negative human being to someone who is generally fairly positive, mostly pretty optimistic, comfortably content much of the time, who feels a secure sense that, generally, most things will (or could) turn out acceptably okay. πŸ™‚ It’s enough (for me). Life feels pretty good, mostly.

…There are a lot of implied new beginnings in that last paragraph, not gonna lie. A lot of work has been involved in getting myself from “there” to “here”. I still have occasional down days and blue moments. I still sometimes struggle with my emotional wellness and mental health. I’m a human, being human.

I finish my coffee with a smile. Go for a walk? A soak in the spa? Do some yoga? Start work early? I think things over…

…It’s time to begin again. πŸ™‚

Sometimes finding a happy place is surprisingly close to home.

I woke early. Ridiculously early. 2:22 a.m. early. lol Doesn’t wreck the taste of my (early) morning coffee, and I am content to be here, in the early morning quiet, a bit earlier than usual.

…To be fair, I went to bed early, too, as a result of not really sleeping the night before; I was just wiped out, after a busy day of working through the fatigue, and the extra work of seeking to manage my moment-to-moment behavior in the context of shared work, all day, with colleagues I respect, and who see me as both adult, and as a management professional, well… yeah… I was exhausted by the time I got home. My Traveling Partner kindly suggested I just go ahead and go to bed, fairly early in the evening. Realistically, I was a bit too stupid with fatigue to think of that. LOL “Bed time” came early last night. I’m up early this morning. No surprise. No stress. Good coffee.

I sip coffee. Breathe. Relax. Let the stray thoughts come and go. Let fears and doubts go. Another breath. Another moment. πŸ™‚ I think back on moments from yesterday – not the work moments; the work moments will take care of themselves in the context of work, when I am in the office and on the clock, once again. Nope. Those don’t need my attention right now. Instead I am thinking back on flowers, on the scent of the early morning breeze, the smile of a friend in passing, a hilarious joke I’d already forgotten; this is a moment for building a firm foundation of emotional resilience through a favorite practice. I am “taking in the good“, and enjoying my morning coffee, contentedly.

Even the flowers in urban landscaping can become a meaningful moment of delight, contentment, and joy.

I think back to an earlier starting point on this journey, and how much misery filled my moment-to-moment, hour-by-hour, day-to-day experience of living. It often felt so entirely pointless. It was, at first, a major challenge to “find” even small moments of anything wonderful, beautiful, uplifting, joyful… and here I am, a couple years down this very strange path, and in spite of the often overwhelming seeming miseries and hardships of the world, I can find a moment of joy to savor, almost any time, almost anywhere. It’s a nice change. (Yes, of course, there were verbs involved, and a lot of practice. Worth it.)

A moment of will, a decision to “let it go”, and the choice to turn attention to something small, something beautiful… can change the character of an entire day.

I breathe. Relax. Repeat. Moments to contemplate simple beauty. Moments to savor a good cup of coffee in the chill of morning. Moments to enjoy being, without an agenda, without the stress of time or timing. Moments, so often, are enough. Stuck in a shitty one? Breathe. Relax. Let it go. Just let that shit go. Take another breathe. Sky still blue? Are you okay, right now? Another breath, another moment. Repeat as needed. Take a walk. Keep breathing. Let the stressors weighing you down fall away for a moment – you can pick those up later, if you really feel you must. Another breath, another moment. Another choice.

…I catch myself thinking about a singularly unexpected (and challenging) moment, yesterday; a colleague’s emotional investment erupting to the surface, catching me by surprise. I value their opinion, and experience. I spend a moment considering a question; what do they need to feel heard, on this? I make a point to set a reminder to follow up, to take time to listen deeply. I don’t know everything. This is a shared journey.

…Then I let that go, too, and return to this quiet moment, and this delicious cup of coffee. Soon enough it will be time to begin the day, for now, this moment here is quite enough. πŸ™‚

Yesterday was lovely, generally speaking. Good start to the dayΒ sort of morphed into a pleasant commute that became a productive and jovial work day that finished softly with an errand, a slightly different route home, and gentle conversation with my Traveling Partner, before winding down and becoming a peculiarly early bedtime that was also a night when I did not easily fall asleep. lol All in all, a lovely day.

I make a point to take a few minutes to look back on yesterday, specifically because it was a good day. We so easily fall into the habit of obsessing over the details that were raw, or annoying, or didn’t work out, or which trouble us, picking at those moments like sores – we can’t help but keep fussing with them, but allowing that to become who we are results in a fairly poor quality of life experience, and I’ve been practicing differently. I let myself contentedly gloss over most of the small moments that “missed the mark”; I am entirely unconcerned with those. I focus on what worked. I contemplate good feelings. I smile and remind myself about the bits that were unusually pleasant and replay those in great detail while I sip my morning coffee. I practice “taking in the good“.

I smile again when I remember I just ordered Rick Hanson PhD’s new book, too; “Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness“. I chuckle when I also recall the remnant of youthful cynicism that suggested, last night, that there “wouldn’t be anything really new in this…” in subtle discouragement… but… I can’t help but also be very aware that “we become what we practice”, and that whether this is fully 100% new material is not actually relevant to having a good experience of living life. It matters more to practice the practices that support me on this journey to becoming the woman I most want to be. πŸ™‚

So far, today is another pleasant day, in a life that is largely characterized by contentment, these days. It’s hard to want to “begin again” when “now” is, in this moment, quite easily enough. πŸ˜€

I’ll just be over here practicing. πŸ˜‰