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A letter about happiness

I believe that happiness lies in the minutiae.

The small precise moments occurring in everyday life.

Huge life-changing moments of joy are wonderful, but they happen less frequently, and the experiences that happen in each moment of each day are the things that add up to a wonderful life.

I believe that if you take care of each moment, you will take care of happiness in your life.

This week it was announced that Finland has been voted ‘happiest country in the world’ for the sixth year in a row. And I saw a Finnish woman on TV being asked what makes it the happiest place to live, to which she replied, joyfully:

‘it is important to be happy for the little things.’

This totally rang true to me since only that morning, I had been driving along listening to the news on the radio, and the story about the economy had caused the usual feeling of constriction in my body. Then I stopped to let someone cross the road and they said thank you with the most beautiful smile that totally reversed that feeling for me at that moment.

It caused me to reflect on how much that smile had made a difference and how that smile cost nothing.

That same morning on the radio Chris Evans had played a part of Sam Harris’s speech on appreciating each passing moment. Harris suggests that you pay a bit more attention when you are doing something. It is one of the best pieces of mindfulness advice I have listened to. If you do one thing today, I would recommend you give this a listen.

You can listen to it here

In this 4-minute talk he speaks of how we can never know we are doing something for the last time. This always touches me deeply since I remember my daughter reflecting on how she didn’t know a few years ago, when she was having the last Sunday lunch in our kitchen as a family. Shortly after that lunch, my son left to go to university and then shortly after that her father and I separated, which came as a shock to us all. Therefore, his words offer particular poignancy. We can never know when we are doing something for the last time. Even if we have lunch together again in the future, which I hope we will, it will inevitably be very different to the many times we had a roast on Sunday in the kitchen. An event that often occurred but was done as a weekly routine, lovely though it was.

I listened to a podcast this week where the guest had suffered a stroke in his life, and he was stressing how important it is to be grateful for the things you take for granted. He took a healthy working body for granted until he had to relearn how to walk.

The point to both of those things, is to appreciate those seemingly small things in the moment, those things we take for granted, such as my ability to easily type this letter with my hands for example. These things that, if we pause to appreciate them, do bring us happiness.

Don’t wait for something to be gone until you appreciate it. Appreciating the small things, one moment at a time, leads to a contented happy life.

As ever I wish you a peaceful Sunday.

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