It's the beginning of March, and already most of us have forgotten our new year's resolutions, or never made them in the first place (me). Post-covid, they seem even more elusive than before, as everyone seems to be searching for health, emotional health, and happiness. Lofty goals, to be sure. We want it all, and we want it now. Give us the tools, show us the app, and let's make this happen.
For most people, resolutions are a bit like that box of magic tricks that we get when we're children - we follow the rules, try them a few times, and if they don't work out exactly how we expected, we disappointedly put them away, and label them as a fail. But y'see, they're not really a fail. What they are is just something that we needed to practice a bit more. Like happiness. Happiness is something to be practiced. Not, contrary to what we're sometimes led to believe, a special gift that has been bestowed on the very lucky and few. However, neither is it a giant bundle of love that greets us every morning with colorful birds singing in our living room and magical rainbows floating out of the tea kettle.
What they forget to tell you, is that it's somewhere in-between. It's the everyday stuff, it takes practice, and it takes a wee bit of effort to create our own happy moments and adapt our lives as-needed. Having recently downsized, I've had to exercise a ridiculous amount of restraint in how I decorate. It's been both a challenge and a journey, however, before I'd even finished unpacking, I grabbed all of my emotional tools, and forced myself to create a few everyday pieces of happy. Grandiose happiness wasn't on my list. Instead, it was how can I corral the chaos and spread bits of joy throughout my home. Every solution needed to be simple, quick and comforting. I needed instant gratification, and a happy home as soon as possible.
Paring down the basics is such a lesson in happiness, and, it's blinkin' scary. I'm very sentimental, and having friends and family all over the world, I tend to collect and keep memories that make me smile. Yes, they're organized, but there's a lot, and paring them down was difficult.
So, it was time to put on my big girl undies and practice what I teach. It was time to, once again, adapt to my surroundings, and love the space I was in. Of course, we all want happiness, but the reason we chase it (or think it's too hard to find) is because we're too busy looking for the big stuff, hoping for world enlightenment and that coveted ah-hah moment.
But that's not what it is. Happiness is more subtle than that - it's something soft and kind that we choose to practice within our daily lives, as often as we can. It's a little bit of "fake it 'til you make it" that eventually becomes an almost unconscious habit. It's never perfect, but if we practice, it gives us something that's always there, waiting in the background, helping to lift us up whenever we need a boost.
It's about finding, creating (and looking for) joy in the most tiniest of details in our everyday lives. Ridiculously, obscure details that may seem insignificant, but will all join together to form our daily dose of happy:
A smile or wave to someone passing by.
Anticipating and truly enjoying that first sip of coffee in the morning.
Sending a gif to a friend, just so they know you're thinking of them.
A cherished photograph on your fridge.
Noticing early signs of spring when you're out and about.
Choosing to wear your favorite color (often).
Laughing at funny animal videos on social media.
Buying duck eggs from the local farm.
Listening to music as often as possible (on the way to work, while unloading the dishwasher, or just because you need to hear that certain song).
Sitting outside in silence, watching the world happen around you.
Planning what you would like to do next (big or little).
Gleefully anticipating what might be in the mailbox today.
Of course, I don't even pretend to have all the answers, but I can tell you, that one of the simplest bits of instant happy, that you can do right this minute, is to just put something (anything) that you truly enjoy, somewhere unexpected in your home.
Pop a souvenir magnet amongst your knives and forks.
Tape family photographs inside your closet door.
Nestle a very small, cute something in the corner of a step.
Write an inspirational word on the wall, in pencil, where only you can see it.
Have a favorite knick-knack waiting inside your refrigerator.
Or, do as I do, and keep a miniature troll doll sitting in your coffee cup cupboard :-)