"Enjoy the little things in life... for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."
I see the start to this New Year as an opportunity to live positively in the moment, in the right here and now of things as a means to enjoy the little things in life. I've been acutely aware of this level of attention to just being, noticing the little things around me as well as my gratitude and joy for them. In no particular order, here are a few things I've come to appreciate as we enter 2021:
HEALTH. No matter how good or bad we might feel, we always have the opportunity to maintain and improve our health. In fact, the chance to do something positive for our bodies and minds is present almost every single day. Often, it's something quite simple.
PURPOSE. Everyone needs a sense of purpose, a reason for being, no matter how big or small. This not only gives us a reason to wake up every day but a non-faulting joy. This, too, can be something simple.
TIME. Who knew how scheduled we had become? Always having to be here by this time and there by that time. And then, all of a sudden, events, activities and travel began to be canceled one by one. As the calendar cleared, more time arrived. Some struggled while others flourished. Friends shared their schedules, some by planning lunch with their families, others with take-out Fridays with friends. Many had game nights while others began daily walks with friends and family. I seized this opportunity to complete some DIY projects around the house, take weekend drives to discover new areas and catch up on some reading.
A TRAIL. My sister and I took several hikes over the holiday. Trails are not straight lines; they tend to twist and turn in ways you don't always see coming. Walking along the path, we reflected on our opportunities and insights, our knowns and unknowns. We admired the beauty of a tree or another plant. We wondered at the space and time we were sharing. We appreciated the path as an expression of our day-to-day lives and a reminder to appreciate life's little nuances.
FAMILY AND FRIENDS. This is where memories are made. My friends and family implemented traditional Sunday family dinners more than nine months ago. As a child, these were expectations; now, they provide a space to share thoughts, ideas, and emotions, listen, provide empathy or simply laugh. It is also a time to practice patience as dinner is rarely served on time when I'm cooking.
In addition to our dinners, we have enjoyed many walks with authentic conversations about aging family members, health, the arts, relationships, employment opportunities, retirement, and philosophical questions about life, joys, and fears. We met neighbors and their families as they walked the neighborhood or completed yard work. We enjoyed poetry readings and music with friends in their front yards.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS. The space that simply sits right outside our windows, doors, and walls is always available to us. Its condition may change, but it is still there. It provides new and evolving scenery and a constant and consistent moment. It is a space where one can feel connected to something larger than themselves and find a fresh outlook.
Each of these little things aggregated to a year of incredibly positive experiences. Only paying closer attention to them made a huge difference in my openness to new adventures and points of view. I believe that this is how a person creates happiness for themselves and those they come in contact with. I hope that by enjoying the little things in life more often, I may cultivate more positive experiences and deepen my gratitude in 2021. I wish the same for every one of you.