Today I dropped my keys down the elevator shaft. My groceries sat for an hour while I waited in the elevator foyer for my apartment’s emergency maintenance to arrive and make new keys for me. Luckily my cell held power long enough to call for assistance. My other option had been to call the elevator company to open the floor to reveal the shaft — this would have involved an extremely large cost and a much longer wait on a Sunday. So, what did I do with that hour with no iPhone? Rather than get angry, I summoned up a feeling of peace and thought about all the wonderful events in my life during the last year. Hence, I concluded that I am happy.
Today’s blog is about an article by Siri Carpenter in Prevention, “10 Secrets of Happy Women.” Heading the list is the exhortation to search for joy in small things. This is a trick which I’ve taught myself well into the third year of my widowhood. Because I was so very happily married to Marc, I felt as though the world had opened up a huge sink hole around me when he passed on. To cope I learned fairly quickly to enjoy the very tiniest little thing, whether it was the plethora of birds on the water outside my apartment, snow after many years away from it, autumn leaves, my new Westie puppy — though there is nothing diminutive about him. Yogurt for dinner in front of a movie is awesome. No dishes involved. Buying myself perfume for the first time in many years. My son coming back to New York and being involved in my daughter’s goddaughter’s life are so very precious. Period. Life does go on.
Seeking joy in small things may seem incontrovertible but it’s not necessarily a habit of busy, stressed out adults. Children, however, have the talent nailed. “It’s a skill that few people have mastered, says Loyola University Chicago social psychologist Fred B. Bryant, PhD. The reason is simple: We’re busy, and we have a lot on our minds.There’ll always be other sunrises, we say to ourselves, but if we don’t hit the shower soon, we’ll never beat the traffic to work. Under the weight of our daily responsibilities and worries, we reflexively tune out the fleeting, spontaneous events that could bring us deeper joy and greater health.” And for me, it was imperative.
For 20 years Bryant has been studying “mindful savoring,” what is thought and done to prolong positive emotions. So enjoy the list of 10 strategies to reach contentment, starting with “spread happy thoughts.” The second is “build memories to savor” and, again, this is something which I focused on today. Mental screenshots of beautiful things is one of my favorite mantras. As I reread the list, Josh Groban is singing “Believe,” the theme song from “The Polar Express.” His baritone is so like Marc’s that I feel my husband with me as I practice mindfulness; I see and hear him singing opera to me. My favorite is number 7 “fake it until you make it,” meaning act the way you want to be, then it will embrace you. Behaviorism.