Embracing everyday joys make life worth living
When I was a child I could lose myself for hours wandering around outdoors, catching butterflies, playing with sticks, taking in every bit of nature that I could. I loved reading in my room all afternoon. As a teenager, I discovered the joy of taking a ridiculously long hot bath on a Saturday afternoon, then wrapping my hair in a towel and making a batch of cookies or a peach cobbler from scratch.
I believe that being able to enjoy the mundane moments has made me more emotionally resilient as an adult. Even throughout the worst years of my life when I was dealing with abusive relationships, unemployment or low-paying jobs, I never stopped appreciating the beauty of a sunny afternoon, a talk with a friend, or the calm presence of a cat purring on my lap.
When everything else in my life was complete shit, I found joy where I could. During the years when I had to buy my groceries on credit, I took great joy and satisfaction in making a big batch of black bean soup that I could eat for a week. Cooking on Sunday afternoons for the week ahead became an act of self-love rather than a chore. Later on during my second marriage, I translated my love of Sunday cooking into a bi-monthly “First Sunday” event for friends and family. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
During my twenties, I lived in Florida for six years and several times a week, I would head to the beach after work to just sit and soak in the peace. The sound of the water calmed me and washed away any stress from the day. I never complained about the summer heat. How could you complain when you have an ocean?
For many years, I thought I would never have children. I told myself I didn’t want them, I wanted freedom. I wanted to be able to live my life without restriction. When I decided to become a mother in my early thirties, I was delighted to discover that my approach to life works perfectly with being a parent. Since I never lost the ability to find happiness in the act of catching a firefly, wading in the creek, or drawing a chalk picture on the sidewalk, I have always had fun with my kids. I truly enjoy them in a way that many parents do not.
This afternoon I took a long walk around my neighborhood picking up sticks from the sidewalk as tinder for my firepit tonight. I’ll enjoy a glass of wine as I watch the flames lick the night sky and think about my past and my future. There is contentment and happiness all around us if we dare to look.
So many people go through life thinking that happiness requires some grand plan or adventure. That it requires money, the perfect relationship, or exotic locations. I don’t think any of that is true. Happiness merely requires opening your eyes wide enough to see the beauty and joy all around you. And then enjoying it.