The Blessings of Simple Pleasures

Queen Ann's Lace with BindweedThe Blessing of Simple Pleasures,

by Tasha Halpert

I was fortunate in that I learned fairly early in life to practice my attitude of gratitude. There were two experiences in my life that prompted me to do this. One came in the form of a telephone call from a friend and teacher telling me to be grateful and to say this prayer of gratitude daily: Beloved Lord I do greatly thank Thee for the abundance that is mine.” When I protested she said sternly, “You have much to be grateful for–a roof over your head, food to eat, people who love you, now do as I say and repeat that prayer at least three times daily.” Because I respected her, I did as she suggested.

That was the beginning. Then I encountered mysterious woman at a spiritual gathering who told me a little about myself and then said, “Never take anything for granted.” Her words gave me pause and have resonated in my life ever since. At the time I did not know that my entire life would change radically within weeks. And while it changed for the better, almost everything in my life as I knew it then disappeared to be replaced by new and different circumstances. Nothing could have prepared me for that, however I was blessed to move through it to a new life for which ever since I have been grateful.

That was a great many years ago; and much time has passed with many experiences lived through. As I have moved through them I have grown in the expression of my gratitude. Nowadays when I turn on the shower on a cold winter evening and climb into its warmth, I give thanks. Although they may not live close to me, there are many who do not have the luxury of hot water from a faucet. When I cuddle my clean cotton sheets and the warm covers on my bed around me, I think of, and send a prayer for those who are homeless and have little to comfort them in the cold.

An attitude of gratitude as we are often reminded by teachers from Oprah to Eckert Tolle is one of the pillars for the foundation of a happy life. My own personal experience has proved this to be true. I have also learned to realize how important it is to be grateful for that which at first seems less than fortuitous. However in general I prefer to focus on those things that bring me joy rather than those that do not, even while being grateful for those as well.

Small and simple pleasures–a phone call from one’s child or grandchild, the wagging tail of a treasured animal companion, the smile of a neighbor encountered unexpectedly in the supermarket, or the friendly help of a stranger in locating a hard to find item–these lovely, serendipitous experiences provide a splendid symphony of joy. As I live my life, it plays in the background as an accompaniment to my everyday doings. Listening to it I am reminded again and again to be grateful.

I am Thankful

Stephen and Tasha Hug          I make a practice of being thankful. I have often shared the little prayer I say a dozen or more times a day for various and sundry blessings. However it is not necessary to pray one’s thanks. It enough to simply acknowledge that one is grateful. My gratitude for what I have is enormous. I am also very grateful for much that I do not have, or may have had and no longer do.

What we have and what we do not have may both are something to be thankful for. Did you ever think back to when you were little and wanted something–a pony, perhaps? Most likely you didn’t get it, and most likely if you had you would soon have tired of taking care of it. Ponies require daily brushing, cleaning up after, feeding, petting, riding, and more: taking care of the saddle, bridle and all the required tack. They are a lot of work, and the child who wants the pony doesn’t think about that.

We seldom think about the consequences of receiving what we wish for. There is an old adage that goes: be careful what you wish for, you may get it. I remember admiring big houses, and oh how I wished for a swimming pool. One day I acquired both. That pool was more work than it was worth, although many people enjoyed it. However they weren’t tasked with the care of it as I was.

I used to think I wanted more space, and now having had two large houses–though one was smaller than the other, I have learned that every bit of space I may have requires care and looking after. I have learned to be content with a lot less space that I ever thought I would be.

As well I am thankful for those difficulties I have left behind. It is lovely not to have to clean three bathrooms each week, tend a huge garden, prune lots of bushes. When I hear a child yelling in the supermarket I am delighted it’s not my job to care for a howling toddler. I am also glad not to have be cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner and hosting a large group of people. I enjoyed and was thankful at the time I did all these things, now I am glad that time has passed.

There is much else I am just as glad not to wish for any longer. I used to think I would like to go up in a balloon, I don’t feel the need to do that any more. I don’t want to jump out of an airplane with a parachute either. I am thankful that I don’t need to do these things to be happy or feel fulfilled.

Thinking about thankfulness as I do each and every day but most especially at Thanksgiving I am struck by the way I have learned what I truly want and how fulfilled I feel. Once I yearned to be more popular. Now I am thankful for the friends I do have. I have learned that what is important to me are the small daily pleasures of contact with people and our communications. Most of all I am grateful for my beloved partner and best friend Stephen. Having a special friend with whom to share my life is my greatest blessing.

Seeds of Joy

           Joy does not require anything of us. It may come as a gift of conscious acceptance of what is or is not given, or it may come as an unexpected breeze that blows through us–the sigh of an angel looking benignly down upon us wishing us well. Joy cannot be bought or sold, yet it can be spread and shared as well as flow through or be bestowed upon us.

          The seeds of joy grow easily in a grateful heart. The practice of gratitude is one of the most if not the most important of all spiritual exercises. When we remember to be grateful for whatever good we have, it will increase. When we are grateful even for that which is difficult for us to endure, it becomes easier to tolerate. As I accept what is given with gratitude it can reveal its lesson and its purpose in my life.Image

          Joy, like happiness, is a byproduct of our attitude toward life. It cannot be sought, yet it can be cultivated. Joy essentially seeds itself in our lives when we feel good about ourselves and what we are doing. It is watered by love and fertilized by sharing. When I have good news, I can call my friends and tell them. When I feel joyful, I can smile at the world. It does not matter and I need not care whether anyone smiles back.

          If I smile at the world without expecting anything back, I actually increase my returns because what goes around eventually returns to me. My joyous gift is made even more powerful because I have not looked for a payback of any kind. An unconditional gift generates a joy that opens my heart to a kinder, more loving energy that in turn increases my happiness.

          Thicht Nhat Hahn the well known Zen Buddhist teacher suggests we smile often. He recommends a gentle, simple turn up of the corners of the mouth, a bud of a smile as he calls it. I can do this whether I feel like it or not at the time and it can bring joy to the heart regardless of the circumstances.

          Joy does not need any special circumstances in order to manifest. Joy can come even in the midst of sorrow as a simple lift of my heart and the recognition that life goes on and I will too. As I am able to welcome change and all the potential it brings for my personal growth and happiness, I can also let go of the clouds of doubt that could obscure that potential.

          Gratitude is like sunshine, blessing all it shines upon. Then as I am grateful for my blessings, the seeds of my joy grow and flourish. As I consciously work to accept with gratitude whatever gifts each day brings, I can discover these gifts for what they truly are: the lovely colors of my life woven into a tapestry threaded through and through with joy.

How the Sadness Became A Happiness, A Pujatale by Tasha

Once upon a time
there was a Sadness called Tears
who lived in the silence.

Tears was sad
because she was all alone in the silence.
It was so lonely that she began to cry,
and she cried for a long, long time.

She cried for such a long time
that a big pool of water formed around her.
Pretty soon she was floating.
As she floated she began to feel somewhat better,
but she was lonely because no one else was there.

She began to feel light
and wanted to feel even lighter,
so she kicked off her shoes
and began to dance in the water.

As she began to dance,
she noticed many other beings had gathered there.
They were all playing in the beautiful pool of tears.
They smiled at the Sadness and sang as they played,
splishing and splashing about.

The Sadness began to play too.
Then as they played in the water,
a song rose up in each of them
and they all began to sing.

As she joined in,
the singing grew louder and more joyous.
Soon Tears was so happy
she couldn’t even be called a Sadness any more.
The being that had once been a Sadness
truly came a Happiness,
and her new name was Smiles.

Even after the pool had dried up
and all had returned to their homes,
Smiles remained a Happiness.
Although she was back in the silence,
she was still happy.
For somehow now that she was a Happiness,
even the silence was friendly,
and Smiles the Happiness sang to herself all day long.