No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star.
On April 5th, of 2012 I wrote in my Happiness Journal, "I believe that there are five essential components for joy", and then I made the following list.
1. Gratitude - journal it, feel it, express it. Thank God, humbly and often.
2. Simplification - complexity is opposed to the creation of joy. It is a distraction (and a subtraction).
3. Mindfulness - joy occurs infused only within the present moment. We must be in now moments mentally and emotionally to experience joy...not agonizing over the past or worrying, plotting, planning, and racing mentally into the future.
4. The Recognition of "Enough" - hold within ourselves a real recognition that we are enough and have enough. The pursuit of "more" (stuff, money, you name it) smothers the emergence of joy.
5. Cease Self-comparisons with Others. Comparison breeds discontent. You are unique, one of a kind (no comparisons needed here)!
Letting go of having to control everything (and everyone) lessens stress and increases our happiness quotient.
Here's an affirmation that will help to let go of the need to control every aspect of everything!
After doing what needs to be reasonably done, but allowing space for serendipity to enter in, light a candle, contemplate the affirmation, then get up and go about your day repeating the affirmation as often as it comes to mind...
"Every situation has an grand design within it. All we ever need do is allow things to unfold gently, peacefully, having faith that the Universe is a friendly, consciousness-filled space."
Who isn't looking for happiness, more happiness, ultimate happiness?
What are the elements of happiness?
Where do we find happiness?
For the next little while let's explore, and try to answer, these questions and more. I'll share what I've found out about happiness, but as I'm no expert, we'll also examine what "happiness experts" have to say as well.
It's springtime and life surges anew. It's a season of hope and thus begins our quest for a greater level of happiness. To that end I'll be offering food for thought and some mental outlooks we can embrace that will increase our happiness quotient.
The picture at the head of this post offers a clue. It might lift your spirits just to spend a few minutes looking at the picture. What do we see?
Flawless blue sky, puffy white clouds, a sunshiny day, multi-colored cosmos blossoms nodding on an imagined breeze. Nature robed in beauty.
Nature is one key. Spending time in nature takes us out of our selves - our heads - for a time and we gain perspective. Nature is a great equalizer. After a walk in the park, around the garden, or a well-deserved sit down on a bench we begin to unwind and attune to the energies of nature.
Birdsong, leaves twinkling, the soft touch of a breeze against the cheek. These things begin to soothe and open our minds and hearts.
Saying goodbye can be bittersweet. And, although saying goodbye to a place where I've spent 15 years of my life isn't easy, the time has come.
The Cottage is a place of abundance and comfort and I hope that new owners will find that and more just as I did.
I take with me all I've learned living at the Cottage, my memories, faith, experiences, and more...
Some of my favorite lessons were outlined in previous posts - Natural Abundance, Elective Frugality, Easy Elegance, Simple Grace, and Living With Chickens.
I loved growing my own food, preserving it, living in harmony with the Seasons, my gardens, and the surrounding land. I lived what I termed, the Cottage Lifestyle.
Followers of this blog would often write and ask questions, such as, "I live in an apartment. I can't have chickens. I don't have a garden. How can I live the Cottage Lifestyle?"
To these and similar questions I would answer that it's not so much about where you live, how much garden you have, or the type or style of home you occupy. The Cottage Lifestyle is a philosophy that you carry in your heart and mind.
And now, I get to live my own words!
My present circumstances in a newly purchased and lovely condo would be enviable to many people. However, I have very little garden space...a few pots of herbs and flowers, a rhubarb stashed in a found spot in a tiny landscaped patio, tarragon and lovage herbs slipped into a narrow border...
I'll share a secret with you...I've always had a desire to be a bit of a minimalist, to chuck the majority of my possessions...all the stuff! But minimalism seemed a far reach from where I was to where I wanted to be...
...but not where I find myself now in a small two-bedroom condo I share with my Mom whom I've moved to my new locale...in this new place where I live, discover, and create.
Rather than a material concern, Simple Grace is a state of being and perception.
Living at the Cottage for the past 15 years I've distilled my experiences into four lessons... Natural Abundance, Elective Frugality, Easy Elegance, and Simple Grace.
The first three lessons are about lifestyle and personal style. The last lesson, Simple Grace, is about one's mental/spiritual state of being and perception.
Simple Grace is harder to define than something of a tangible nature. Nonetheless, it is available to all regardless of income, lifestyle, or physical circumstances.
Thankfully there are some methods to help achieve it. Grace is about being in harmony with both the inner and outer energies of being and existence.
The concept of Grace is often connected with religion. However, while it can be connected with in religious and spiritual contexts, we can also connect with Grace as we expand our awareness and perception by consciously changing our thoughts from negative, critical, fearful, and judgmental outlooks to perceptions that are grateful, charitable, inclusive, and expansive. As we do so we will attune to something greater than ourselves.
The simple act of daily gratitude is another way to en-train the beatitude of Grace. Being grateful resonates with the frequencies of Grace. When we are grateful we open ourselves to the power of Simple Grace.
Being grateful for what you have and where you are right now in life is key. If there is trouble in your life (and who doesn't have some of this) focus more on what is right than wrong. Doing so causes perceptions to flow into more positive, life-affirming channels. We create our present and future by our thoughts. If we expect trouble it's likely we will find it or it will find us. Worry is a negative visualization.
Altering our perceptions from a negative to a more positive vibe places us in harmony with the forces of prosperity, joy, and love. Being in harmony with these positive polarities opens our life experience to good fortune and beneficence. Goals are easier to achieve as opportunities and helpful people naturally arise in our lives. If we are helpful to others we naturally attract people who will, in turn, aid us.
A pretty plaque reminds me daily of my intention to cultivate Plenty and Grace.
Having a grateful and charitable feeling towards others helps them warm to you. People will want to be in your presence and will feel safe in your sphere of influence. A positive outlook attracts positive people, things, and events into your life.
Journaling your "gratitudes" takes gratitude from the realm of the mental and into concrete reality via pen and paper or computer.
A beautiful handmade or purchased notebook makes "gratituding" pleasurable. Set time aside each day to relax with your journal (or computer). A few minutes is enough to make a life-changing, life-affirming difference in your experiences and outlook.
Each of us contains within our innermost being a part, or particle, of mystical consciousness that interacts with creation beyond the mundane, material existence we all experience on a daily basis.
Life's realities and circumstances are our reality. Our actuality is above and beyond the physical "facts" of our daily existence. We have a "quantum" life and that is where we connect with Simple Grace. So simple. So sublime. The music of the spheres. The whispers of angels. Communion with something greater than our day-to-day selves and concerns. It is within this mysterious quantum realm that through the power of our thought we can literally change our outer, material, and emotional circumstances. This is the power of Simple Grace!
Engage with Simple Grace by harmonizing with the natural world, as well. Abide for awhile in a park, garden, or by taking a walk . Interaction with nature opens one to the flow of energy that is in constant availability. Harmony with the world around us opens the gateway to Simple Grace.
A rustic bench in the garden invites one to sit and commune for a spell, with nature.
Rest your awareness on a flower, the trickle of water, the wind in the trees. Allow your awareness to engage all of your senses with that which you are observing, feeling all of the varied sensations it provides for your enjoyment...your awareness.
There is grace in acknowledging something on every blessed level of awareness. Know that what you are encountering exists on greater levels than your sense of it.
One of the gifts of Simple Grace is happiness. Happy people display several attributes. They are slow to anger, charitable, forgiving, kind, helpful, generous, and grateful. They also draw to them people with similar attributes.
Unhappy people anger easily, tend to be demanding, self-centered, judgmental, stingy, abrasive and miserable...and they will draw to themselves similar people and experiences.
We have a choice as to the thoughts we cultivate. Both negative and positive thinking are habits that we nurture and manifest. Habits that negatively influence our lives can be broken with some worthwhile, well-spent effort.
Whom do each of us choose to be?
What "grace" will each of us manifest into our lives?