Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Simple Pleasures

Anyone who knows me or my blog knows I love quotes. There is something about capturing an important idea in a pithy saying that gets me every time! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes and talk about how I try to apply it to everyday life.

"It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones."
-Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs

This quote is a powerful reminder for me that ultimately I control things. Take a moment to really think about that, especially if you live with chronic illness - because sometimes NOTHING feels like it is in our control. The simple truth is that we all have a choice to celebrate the simple pleasures each day, and no matter what the state of our lives, our health, our relationships - we all have pleasures each day. The quote reminds me that they don't have to be big, huge, monumental things, in fact, very often the most important ones aren't.

It is all too easy to get caught up in the negative and think of all the things we can't control, the things we can't do, the people we can't change. But, how about trying to turn that thinking upside down and looking at all the things that DO work, you CAN do something about - the pleasures that you already HAVE each and every day? It's easier to have a pity party and blame the world and complain that things never go right. Yes, it is easier, but it is also far more dangerous. When you overlook the simple pleasures you stop being able enjoy them. The quote talks about making a big deal out of little pleasures. I am not married and I don't have children, so my pleasures might be different than some of yours, but we ALL have them if we choose to look. Some of my pleasures include things I have control over and many of them include things I have nothing to do with. An example that springs to mind for me immediately is the beauty of nature. I can be on a walk in my neighborhood and be stopped in my tracks by a beautiful flower, an interesting tree or leaf or a particularly playful squirrel or bird. Just the other day we had heavy rains that left deep puddles on the sides of the roads. I was pulling my car out of the driveway and I noticed three little sparrows splashing around in the puddle. They were so cute as they bathed in that puddle that I simply stopped for a moment to enjoy watching them. It wasn't earth shattering, it didn't cure me of my illness, but it made me appreciate the beauty that is all around me if I take the time to notice it.

Another example from my own life is something I call "gratitude for what works". When I am feeling particularly frustrated by my illnesses and like nothing works right in my entire body (pity-party anyone?) I sit myself down and focus on all the things about me that DO work. My eyes are really good, I don't even need reading glasses (yet!!). Although it hurts, I can walk all by myself, something many people can't do. Most days I can eat and drink most things, and after having met many of you who can't do that due to illness I am so grateful for it I try to always remember to be thankful. I have days where my pain makes it impossible to eat and I can barely drink, so the days when my digestion is working are truly a blessing and a pleasure I enjoy and celebrate. There are many other things, such as my brain, that work quite well, and I choose to focus on these to remind myself that there is much more that works than that doesn't.

Your simple pleasures might be the smell of your daughters hair right after her night time bath, the feel of the sun on your skin as you work in your garden, the sound of your favorite song on your IPOD as you commute to work, the look on your loved one's face just as you lean in for a morning kiss. Whatever your pleasures are, be thankful for them, celebrate them and make a big deal out of the "little" things that make life worth living. All the money in the world can't buy any of these things, and yet they are my most precious possessions.


Alicia said...

Anyone that's dealt with chronic illness knows that our attitude can affect the way we feel. I regularly have to give myself an "attitude adjustment" when I start focussing too much on the negative & wallowing in self-pity. I'm always reminded of the saying that our circumstances are not going to change, so we have to change the way in which we respond to them. It was refreshing to see that someone else appreciates the "small" pleasures in life -- sometimes I feel that I'm the oddball because I relish some of the tiniest, simple things while others seem to focus only on the large, extravagant, & often expensive pleasures. :)

Renee said...

THis is a beautiful post, Maureen. Lovely. And important for me to hear right now as I have been in a negative place and trying to move out from under a dark cloud and poor me attitude. I love your description of the three little sparrows.
Bless you, Maureen for sharing your vision of how to live our best life while managing chronic illnesses..

Kelli said...

Wonderful post and you are so right. Appreciate all the little things and everything we can do.
I love the quote.

vshaw said...

I really liked this article. I think it says a lot of things about slowing down and enjoying life more. Although we're not feeling well, doesn't mean the world around us stops. The birds don't stop playing in puddles. The flowers continue to bloom. The sun shines whether we notice or not. The world keeps going even when we feel like we can't take another step. It's not easy to remember this, but nature alone can sometimes be enough to pull us up a little (and can usually be seen from a window without leaving the house!).
Take care Mo!