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Thursday, April 26, 2012

It is the little things that mean the most: Finding joy and gratitude in the simplest acts


Clichés are often eschewed for their overuse or stereotypes. I think we can actually gain a great deal of insight and wisdom from certain clichés. One of the most profound is, “Little things mean a lot.” Rather than view the platitudes that some clichés invoke, I look for the universal truth and commonality that lies within.

This leads me to the point of this posting, which is to celebrate and honor the little, simple, things that can bring so much joy and pleasure to our lives. That is, if we are conscious enough to notice and appreciate them.

 Here is a list of simple acts which bring me great happiness and joy:
  1. Every morning my husband makes me a cup of tea. While this may seem a mundane little ritual, to me it is always romantic, thoughtful and incredibly kind.

2. Getting a text message or a phone call from one of my children. They are grown up and have lives of their own now, and I don’t expect them to call every day. It is really a lovely, simple, treat to hear from them and know they are thinking about me.

  3. Talking to my granddaughter. Anyone who has a grandchild will understand this one. Being a grandparent isn’t the same as being a parent. You really DO get all the wonderful parts of being a parent with none of the bad things. Spending time with my granddaughter reminds me of how wonderful it is to be loved by a small child, and it brings back the sweetness of mothering my own children. Just hearing her say, “Oma”, is one of the simplest delights of my life.

4. Having someone do something for me, unsolicited, that makes my day lighter or easier. Whether it is my husband making a special dinner, or my daughter cleaning the house, or the time my oldest son stopped by the house and delivered a meal; simple acts of kindness are amazing and wondrous.  

5. Receiving a card or a letter from someone. I know this is a dying concept, but I still absolutely adore receiving a card or a note from a friend or family member. I would rather receive a heartfelt card, with personal sentiments written on it, than a gift.

6. Giving or receiving a sincere and warm hug. Some people enjoy hugs more than others, but if you like hugs, you know how rich and wonderful it is to receive one from someone you care about. Physical closeness, whether to a beloved pet or family member, is bonding and calming. Holding my sweet poodle in my lap is one of the simplest joys in my life.
7. Enjoying a meal with a friend or loved one. It doesn’t have to be a posh or fancy place. Just sitting with someone you really care about and being able to spend that time with them is a simple, but joyful experience. I don’t get to see my sister as much as I would like, but when we are able to break away from the hectic lives we lead, and enjoy a meal together and talk, it is absolute heaven.

8. Having someone remember a special day or memory. A small, simple, act that brings me great joy is hearing one of my children or loved one share a specific memory with me. Recently, my younger son asked friends on his facebook to write a favorite memory on his wall, and he would share one of his. That was such a great idea. Remembering and sharing memories is a simple, effortless act of sharing.

9. Spending time with my parents. Now that they are getting older, and especially because my mother is struggling with the onset of Alzheimer’s, time with them has become very precious. A simple pleasure, because it doesn’t matter where we are or what we are doing. Just being with them, whether it is for an hour or a day, is meaningful and a joy.

10. Receiving praise or respect from co-workers and boss. This simple act certainly doesn’t need explaining. I am very fortunate to be in a place in my career where I regularly receive praise and am shown respect for my knowledge and abilities. It has taken a long time to get to this place, and it brings me great happiness and contentment.


 11. Being able to look in the mirror and like what you see. A truly simple act, with enormous impact and potential. Yes, I look older and yes, there are many imperfections, but I like the person I am and am happy with my life as it is right now. A simple, but profound, state of gratitude, acceptance, and serenity.
If we can’t find joy in the simplest things, there will be no rest or peace or happiness in the grandest ones. For all the wealth and trappings of glamour, fame, or worldly adoration, if a person is unable to find joy in everyday acts of kindness and simple pleasures- happiness and contentment will elude them.

It is all too easy to become lost in the acquisition of material goods and objects. Who wouldn’t enjoy having a new car, or taking an expensive vacation? Obviously those things are the “easy” way to experience a sense of pleasure or contentment. But without having a basic foundation of gratitude and an understanding of the value of simple joys, things that can be bought will only become a substitution and a distraction for the beauty of the little things. Nature does indeed abhor a vacuum.
 
ENJOY the simple acts of kindness and find ways to express them to those you love. Life is too short to lose sight of the richness that simple pleasures can bring.



2 comments:

  1. I feel strongly about all of those, especially hand-written notes!

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  2. So much can be just taken for granted but they are so important to life. Well done with such rich words. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete