The Small, Happy Life

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Here is the thing about me, by nature I’m a really laid back kind of girl, who doesn't get overwhelmed with things and doesn't let difficulties get to her. Somehow that girl got lost on the way and one day in my 20's I realized that I became overly goal-oriented with a bad habit of worrying too much.

After this realization I spent the last few years trying to restore myself and rediscover my old ways. I made a conscious effort to resist following the conventional path, despite the world trying to force all things bigger, better and faster onto me. It’s been a long journey, since learned habits tend to stick, but every now and then I stumble upon an article that gives me that extra encouragement and a push into the right direction.

A few weeks ago, David asked his readers to send in essays about their lives' purpose and the way they found it. Expecting most to write the usual clichés of our high-achieving culture of big dreams and ambitious goals, he actually got gobsmacked by the number of people who found their purpose by going the other way, by pursuing the small, happy life. Two of those stories totally hit home for me:

Elizabeth Young once heard the story of a man who was asked by a journalist to show his most precious possession. The man, Young wrote, “was proud and excited to show the journalist the gift he had been bequeathed. A banged up tin pot he kept carefully wrapped in cloth as though it was fragile. The journalist was confused, what made this dingy old pot so valuable? ‘The message,’ the friend replied. The message was ‘we do not all have to shine.’ This story resonated deeply. In that moment I was able to relieve myself of the need to do something important, from which I would reap praise and be rewarded with fulfillment. My vision cleared.”

“Perhaps,” she concludes, “the mission is not a mission at all. Everywhere there are tiny, seemingly inconsequential circumstances that, if explored, provide meaning” and chances to be generous and kind. Spiritual and emotional growth happens in microscopic increments.


Terence J. Tollaksen wrote that his purpose became clearer once he began to recognize the “decision trap”: "This trap is an amazingly consistent phenomena whereby ‘big’ decisions turn out to have much less impact on a life as a whole than the myriad of small seemingly insignificant ones."

It's so good to know that I'm not alone in the way I want to live my life and despite loving the occasional seat in the fast lane, I will always prefer a simple moment. My biggest fear is waking up at age 85 to realize that I spent my life chasing dreams, and even if some came true, they didn't actually make me happy, because I never stopped to enjoy and feel the things that matter most.

So, now your turn, tell me what is your purpose in life? How do you live it?

P.S: Your happiness makes your friends happy, too.
P.P.S: Life lessons and undone...

(Quotes via The New York Times. Photos by/via André JosselinSasha JuliardThings of InterestDiana Pappas)


Anonymous said...

My sister and I were recently talking how strong of a person you must be to not get lost in the crazy goal-oriented world we live in. Thx for touching my heart.

Emily L. said...

I just came across this article as well and it resonated deeply with me. For the past few days I've been posting a few small things that made me happy that day, to remind myself that just because nothing BIG happened that day, it was still a good day. Just quick snaps with my iPhone, posted via iPhone!

Jana said...

This post is especially relevant in our online worlds. It's easy to think we want what someone else has. Instead, I'm happy to raise my children to be decent and loving human beings. I'm happy to love and accept my man as the person he is and to always treat him like my boyfriend. And to take on small creative projects. I had one blog from 2008-2013 and then i felt like I said everything. I started drawing so I started a second blog and after over 500 designs-I think I have done everything I want to do there. And now I am building a small brand of handmade items. I'm going back to where I started over 15 years ago. It feels good. It feels fresh again. And I like the smallness of it. I feel grateful to be able to have so much choice in my life.

Unknown said...

When I drop off from time to time of reading my favorite blogs and finally come back I'm always so inspired every time I stop by yours. This means everything to me right now as I'm trying to find what it is that I want to share, what makes me me, and learn more about the reasons why I'm here. I am trying to learn to live more in the moment and enjoy it instead of trying to capture it and share it on social media. I also need to stop comparing my work to others and just love it no matter what someone else is doing, even if someone knows their blog or their name more than mine. I am who I am and that's all I can be. xoxo

Unknown said...

Beautiful! Love your post I was just talking with my best friend last night about how some of the people work and push so much harder than I do at school but I don't think that kind of energy makes me feel or create better, so I am just interested in doing things at a pace that feel good and in the end, that's what makes everything turn out okay.

Merry Meri said...

What a beautiful post! It is so tempting to just go go go and always focus on bigger and better and "what's next" isn't it!? I think my purpose in life is simply to be happy and to create happiness where I can for the people around me. This gives room for me to evolve, make decisions and hopefully check-in every once in a while to take stock on how I'm spending my time and whether it is making me feel happy. This isn't to say that I want to avoid challenges, struggle or conflict, more that the general pursuit, the thing that should win out, is the choice that generates a happy return. Thanks for the exercise love! xox

Sally Tharpe Rowles said...

I love this post as it expresses my philosophy perfectly. I so agree with celebrating the simpler things in life. In fact oddly enough that in a way is what my most recent blog post was all about, finding beauty in the small things.

Anonymous said...

Such a nourishing and beautiful post. I too love the simple life and find so much beauty and pleasure in small things. But at the same time, I am challenged by the outside pull of what I "should" be doing, doing more, to be "successful" with my art. This post has really touched me and caused me to pause and reflect on what really is joyful and how. xo

Steph said...

I saw that article too and this completely rings true for me. We get so caught up in our busyness these days and it's true that even if you are doing what you want to be doing, it's hard to remember to take time to actually dwell on it and enjoy it rather than itching to move on to the next best thing. Here's to slower and more enjoyable lifestyles for all of us :)

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