Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How Happy Are You Right Now?

Yes, I was going to give you some recipes for cornbread muffins today, but I changed my mind after reading from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Two resolutions I made for this year are already falling behind: one is to read through the Bible; the other is to read a page from Simple Abundance every day. This morning I decided to catch up on both.
I would like to share every page of Simple Abundance with you, but that isn't possible, so I'm focusing on a subject that is dear to my heart--HAPPINESS. Many of the pages in this book offer ways to understand that you have everything you need to be happy...if you only knew it. It will take some coaxing and determination to fill your days with a happy attitude, but it can be done.
And a beginning point is to answer the questions: How happy are you right now? Do you even know? Looking at other people in your life, you may know how happy they are, but you haven't taken time to notice the specific things in your own life that make you happy. Sarah has this to say about it:

What is missing from many of our days is a true sense that we are enjoying the lives we are living. It is difficult to experience moments of happiness if we are not aware of what it is we genuinely love. We must learn to savor small, authentic moments that bring us contentment. Experiment with a new cookie recipe. Take the time to slowly arrange a bouquet of flowers in order to appreciate their colors, fragrance, and beauty. Sip a cup of tea on the front stoop in the sunshine. Pause for five minutes to pet a purring cat. Simple pleasures waiting to be enjoyed. Simple pleasures often overlooked.

That sounds easy, doesn't it? It IS easy, but it still has to be done! Somehow, you must find a few minutes to find out what is missing from your days--or perhaps what you haven't recognized as adding to your days. You may already know that Sarah's mantra is gratitude, and she advises that you write down 5 blessings every evening. It's called a gratitude journal and it will change your life. It's the reason I decided to read from her daybook...one page of encouragement for each day of the year.
There is someone else who knows a lot about happiness--Dennis Prager. He wrote a book on happiness and titled it Happiness Is A Serious Problem: A Human Repair Manual. It didn't start out as a book, it started out as a talk, but it struck such a nerve in the people listening that he was asked to write more about it. I hope you'll read the book, but I'm going to spoil the ending by telling you that the conclusion of the matter is that you cannot be happy without gratitude. I repeat it often because it rings so true.

When I think about writing a blog, I sometimes wonder why I do it. But the deepest answer I can give is that in sharing myself, no matter how trivial the words may be, I'm also sharing my own ways of searching for happiness. I think we've somehow lost the capacity to be happy because of the chaos we've created in our lives. Trauma and drama have gained the upper hand and the "joyful simplicities" are lost to us. But they don't have to be. Sarah ends this entry with a challenge:
Let us each grasp a new idea this year. Let us grasp the awareness of what it is that makes us truly happy. Let us consider our personal preferences and learn how to recognize, then embrace, moments of happiness that are uniquely our own.

Weighed down by the heavier duties of our lives, we may push away any effort at re-gaining happy days, for surely we have all had them at one time. And we all know that there are happy moments in our lives even now. But just as we can't be happy without gratitude, we can't have abundance when we're pessimistic. Focusing on lack won't bring us the abundant life that Sarah advocates. She says that optimisim, like happiness, can be learned. In her January 11 entry, Sarah tells us that with the downturn of the economy, we can easily have a downturn of the spirit. But she says to experiment with smiling at everyone you meet today, expect something good to happen to you no matter what happened to you yesterday. Sounds like a plan! See if letting go of yesterday--all your yesterdays--will allow you to look optimistically at today.

I watched a Martha Stewart Show this morning with many older women on there giving their recipe for happiness and long life. One of them, Madhur Jaffrey, is a chef who has written almost thirty  cookbooks. Her advice was not to look back, but to always look forward. Forget about what happened yesterday and live today. Her new cookbook just came out. It is At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The chicken dish she made on the show was easy and delicious, using spices in a new way to me. And I was convinced that I needed that cookbook!

Another woman, who was in her nineties, said for us to learn something new every day. And another woman was 101 and still bowling with a 10-pound bowling ball, even though she'd had a stroke and wasn't as good as she used to be. Still another woman was 92, and had been a ballroom dancer for the last five years. What I saw was that these older women have the determination to keep moving, to go on and on, to make the days of their lives count! You can do it too!

Have a good Tuesday and count your blessings!



  1. I think we sometimes forget to count our blessings and we do have so VERY much to be thankful for.Hugs Mimi,so glad that I have your blog to read ~~

  2. Thank you, Sherrie! I'm thankful for your comments! They're very encouraging and I enjoy the connection they bring. Hope you're staying warm up there.