As I write this post today, the leaves on the Rowan tree just outside my window have started to turn a light golden colour and the branches are laden with red berries which will provide some food for the birds as autumn begins to make herself a little more visible, day by day. There is something about this time of year that just makes me feel happy. While some may be mourning the passing of summer into autumn, I am embracing it wholeheartedly. This time of year makes me long for cosy evenings and I am happiest when I am pottering in my garden, making tea and baking apple crumble, lighting my candles and drawing the curtains that little bit earlier each evening. Last night for the first time for months we lit the fire. It wasn’t cold enough for central heating, but the cosy glow that illuminated our small living room made me feel so cosy and happy!
I spent a glorious afternoon at home this week by myself and relished the thought of having three whole hours to myself to potter, read, bake and rest, so I decided to make a video of some of the things I really enjoy doing on my day off and hope it makes you feel happy, calm and peaceful. The video is at the bottom of this post for you to enjoy. And if anyone would like the recipe for apple crumble just let me know!
This week, I have been thinking a lot about happiness and the true meaning of what it is to be happy. For many years, I thought happiness was something I had to chase, something to be attained or achieved. I searched for it, yearned for it and ran after it like a child runs after a balloon blowing in the breeze, almost catching it only for the breeze to make it take flight again, always just out of reach.
It took a long time for me to realise that happiness will evade us, elude us and escape us if we spend our days trying to find it. Many of us live our lives in the hope that when we find this car, or buy that house, or find that perfect partner or the job of our dreams that somehow that’s when we will be happy. And because we are constantly searching, we can often miss the happiness that has been right under our nose the whole time.
For me, happiness is peace. It is being at peace with ourselves and with others. It is finding peace in everyday life and in the everyday things. Peace can be found in the most simple of things…a sunrise, a flower gently swaying in the breeze, the bees humming, a bird singing in the early morning hush. Happiness and peace can be found in the little things around us. A simple afternoon spent at home reading a good book, a catch up with a friend over a coffee, hugging our children or playing with our dog. If we don’t stop once in a while to notice the little things, then the big things will always remain just out of reach.
Years ago, I believed that when I found the perfect partner I would be truly happy. That happiness for me was impossible without someone to share my life with. How could I be happy without finding that perfect someone who would make my life complete? So naturally I searched, I chased, I hoped and I prayed and although I met many potential Mr Rights, but the one who I believed would “complete me” still remained elusive for a very long time. Looking back now, I wish I had spent less time searching and more time just being present, living in the moment and finding my happiness in the everyday things, the little things. Eventually I did meet someone and we got married and are still married, but life of course still brings challenges, problems and mountains to climb, whether you are in the perfect relationship or not. Those things don’t just disappear as if by magic once you have attained the one thing your heart desires more than anything – whether that is the perfect partner, a dream job, a large house, the fancy vacation of a lifetime or even something many people wish for – wealth and prosperity. I’m not saying these things are not valid, or that we shouldn’t aspire to have them or want them or should not work hard to get them, but the idea of believing that any one “thing” or “person” is all we need to make us happy in life, can often result in years of letting the things that could have made us very happy, simply pass us by.
I used to dream about living in a large house out in the countryside. I have no idea where that dream really came from but I suspect that years of living in one-bedroom apartments and tiny studios made me long for more space. The house we live in now is very small with a small garden in the suburbs, but it’s perfect for stage we are at in life at the moment. The idea of having to clean a large house from top to bottom every week does not fill me with joy, I will be honest! (and I do love cleaning!). But I spent so many years living in smaller spaces and often complaining about it that I failed to see the benefits that I can only see now, with hindsight. So, because I complained and I felt unhappy about my situation, I was not at peace. In fact, most days, I felt downright at odds with myself and the world around me because I was living in a state of discontent and dis-ease with where I was living. I didn’t appreciate many of the benefits of small apartment living that again, with hindsight, I can truly appreciate now.
These days I try to live in the moment. I try to see the beauty in the little things and find peace and happiness in watching a beautiful sunset, seeing a baby smile, watching a bird build its nest in the tree at the end of my garden, or just reading a good book while sipping a hot chocolate on a rainy day. Chasing happiness is a bit like chasing a rainbow…it will elude us and evade us and will always remain just out of reach, but if we can find peace in our everyday lives, this will bring us the happiness we desire and much more.
I would love to know what makes you truly happy and makes you feel at peace. What brings you happiness in your life?
As always, until next time…