The following poem by Wu-men has always resonated with me:
“Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.”
As I have mentioned in the past, I suffer from what I like to call “chronic dissatisfaction” – though I would like to think I am getting better. Part of the problem is that I overcomplicate life by overthinking. I overanalyze the concepts of happiness and success. Am I happy? Am I successful? What exactly are they, and what will it take for me to “be/feel happy” and “be/feel successful?”
Philippians 4:8 tells us “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
For me, a big part of this season and getting back to basics is simplifying life. Happiness and success are found in simple, everyday life. They are not in the next big trip, a job promotion or meeting Mr. Right, although they would all be nice.
Happiness and success come from spending time with my friends and family. It means I am surrounded by love and am able to maintain healthy, stable relationships. They come from something as simple as sitting on my couch, sipping ginger tea with honey while watching the rain. It means I have the ability to provide shelter for myself and that I have food in my house. Happiness and success are not overcomplicated, impossible to achieve abstract ideas. They exist in the everyday and the here and now.
In our high-paced society, we have lost the basic ability to just be. Even if we achieve something wonderful, we move quickly to the next accomplishment. We often don’t sit and enjoy our success. We move at such a fast clip, that we literally don’t have time to stop and smell the roses or notice all the “little” things to be happy (and thankful) about. This summer, I was mindful of grounding myself. This included things like actually stopping to hear the waves when I walked on the waterfront and actually stopping to smell the roses in the rose garden, even if only for a few minutes.
Since summer has made way to fall, I am enjoying watching the leaves change colors. Such a simple and basic pleasure. It is about learning to slow down and be satisfied for what is right in front of us. There will always be goals for the future, but before you move to the next goal, celebrate what you accomplished.
As you look at your life, I invite you to live with gratitude. I invite you to slow down and give thanks for all the things to be happy about. I encourage you to think about and give yourself credit for all those things that point to how successful you are (and how far you have come).