Finding Happiness Where You Are

Cooper clapped his hands in delight. He was up early enough to see the trash truck pick up our garbage. He heard the noise, jumped up from our breakfast and ran to the front window. He sat there, with his nose pressed against the window, until the garbage man had picked up our trash, as well as our neighbor’s. Then he recounted every detail to me as we sat and ate breakfast. This is the way he always is. He finds joy in little, mundane things. Things I generally ignore or fail to see as exciting, he can soak up and turn into amazing, meaningful moments.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. So much of my time is spent thinking about what will make me happy in the future. A new house with a pool. An awesome vacation to Spain. Losing 10 more pounds. These are all great things, but they aren’t the things I have at this very moment. And fixating on them seems to suck the joy out of my daily life.

After Cooper watched the garbage man circle our cul-de-sac, he came over to me and said, “Mom, he missed our recycling bin.” I explained to him that recycling gets picked up by a different truck later in the day. He was so bummed out. He wanted to see the recycling picked up too. But, since he lives in the moment, he moved right on to something else and was his happy little self. He’s such a great example of how to live in the moment.

I took the kiddos to school and when I got home, I heard the roar of the trash trucks in our neighborhood. I knew the recycling truck would be at our house soon. I had work to do, both for my “real” job and my job as mother and keeper of our home. Most pressing was a phone meeting less than 20 minutes from start and I still needed to gather my notes for. But. I made a decision. I was going to live in the moment. I sat out in front of my house and waited until the recycling truck came around yo our street and when it did, I filmed it picking up our recycling bin, as well as our neighbors. I was smiling thinking about how much Cooper was going to love the video. And that little five minute detour brought me joy. More joy than I I thought possible. I smiled about it for hours.

When I picked Cooper up, I showed him the video. His response? As he was smiling ear to ear, he said, “Mom, I love this. I’m so grateful for you. And I’m grateful you did this for me.” Seriously? How awesome is that? It was just a silly little video, but to him it was a huge act of love. In the process of teaching me to live more in the moment and seek joy in the things I have, he also is teaching me about gratitude and how easy it is to give a little bit of sunshine to those around us. We can offer a smile. We can lend a helping hand. We can film a 30 second video of something the love. We can offer love, kindness and grace. And we can show gratitude for that which is offered to us.

I think joy and gratitude go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. And if we spend all our time hoping for tomorrow,  rather than loving today, we find we have less joy and gratitude.

Today (and every day) I’m going to look for the awesome garbage trucks that might be rumbling through my life. I’m going to stop and watch. I’m going to stop and laugh. I’m going to stop and love. I’m going to find happiness right now, not tomorrow. I challenge you to do the same.

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