Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pure. Simple. Joy.

I read an article not too long ago that stated something to the effect of this ...regardless of how much money a person makes, the average person feels he (or she) would be happier if he made 20% more. This same study also proved that, on average, if an individual were to make 20% more, by the end of the first year, his lifestyle choices fulfill that entire 20% increase in pay, to the point that the increase was completely ineffective to his financial standing, and his happiness level is completely unchanged.

Proof that money cannot buy happiness.

Happiness is priceless. It has also proven to have a positive effect on your overall health and how you handle stress, both of which have great potential to directly affect the natural longevity of your life.

So, think about this. What are some things that you enjoy? What are the good things in life? What truly makes you happy? Forget about the activities that simply occupy your mind or cause you to forget about your troubles for awhile. I'm talking about pure and simple joy. It's out there. It's attainable. And it doesn't cost a cent.

It's an attitude. A choice. A lifestyle. But it is one you have to make and take for yourself. It's so easy to get weighed down by the negative things that are bound to happen. That negativity is infectious and it won't take long before it seeps into every crevice of your life. Things that were once joyful become chores.

Finding pleasure in the little things is a virtue, and one worth striving for.

Shut your eyes and imagine the warm sun shining on your face, the smell of freshly mowed grass, a gentle breeze making the leaves rustle ever so slightly, and you are in no hurry to go anywhere. I can't help but let a smile touch my lips when I experience any one of these things. It's pure. It's simple. And it's certain to make people wonder just exactly what it is that you're smiling about.

(I must also add that, coincidently, that average person in the study mentioned above continues to strive for that next 20%, which is also a great indicator of motivation, but I digress, that is another post...)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Enjoy the Good Stuff. Life is Better That Way.

Some of my best childhood memories are playing with my parents and taking family vacations. Of course, I also have memories of girlie slumber parties with my friends, climbing trees, and eating fresh strawberries out of the garden. And I longingly reminisce the summers that seemed to stretch on forever, and, conversely, sledding down the HUGE sledding hill and building snowfamilies - pets included - in the snowy South Dakota winters. ...interestingly that huge sledding hill somehow doesn't seem so huge anymore.

But the best memories, those where I recall nothing but pure, childlike happiness that only a child without an ounce of stress can really experience? Playing with mom and dad. Baseball in the driveway, volleyball in the front yard, a little frisbee when it wasn't too windy. And not too far behind are the family vacations that were an annual summer trip - even if the distance was a mere two hours to visit the Sioux Falls zoo. I'm sure my parents were at least as busy then as I am now. They both worked outside of the home once all four of us kids were in school. Yes. Two parents, four children. That's a 1:2 ratio compared to my 1:1 ratio, with all four of us being active children involved in various sports and other interests. And I thought I had limited time!

Too often, it seems, parents find other things to occupy their children's time while they are busy doing whatever it is there isn't enough time in one day to do. Myself included! My son is 8. And he has a Nintendo DS. He has a wii. He has a TV, VCR, and laptop in his room, not to mention the Legos, Bionicles, and countless other toys that Christmas and Birthdays have showered on him. And, all week this week when I wasn't at work, I was busy cleaning and organizing my home and garage. My home has been in disarray for weeks, and I finally had a need for the other stall of my garage that required me to move the boxes I didn't know where to put when I moved in over two years ago. I was on a mission to have everything done by the weekend, and worked every night, from the time I got home from work til bedtime, while Isaac played basketball in the driveway.

Each evening he asked me to play with him. And each evening I said, "Maybe tomorrow, honey. I've really got to get this finished." All the while feeling a little guilty as I remembered my dad getting home from work and throwing a few pitches until I finally connected with the bat - even before he went inside to clean up. I don't remember my mom and dad saying "just a minute honey, I need to finish this first." unless there was potential for danger or burnt dinner. It seems to me I say "just a minute" more often than I don't...

So, tonight and more nights to come, I'm taking the night off. No working after work. Just playing with my boy, eating dinner together, getting some ice cream, and, inevitably, making some great memories. Because that's the good stuff. That's what life is really all about. No one is going to remember if I had too many papers on my counter, or a few dirty dishes in the sink. But my son will remember for the rest of his life the best parts of us being a family. One that plays together, prays together, loves each other, and makes life better somehow.