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.


Walking to town of a morning
bright on a lawn I pass
I saw dandelions and violets
shining from the grass.

Then on my way returning
the mower had come by;
their yellow and purple beauty
severed and strewn did lie.

Like violets we bloom in the moment
until our moment has past,
and we fall to the blades of time’s mower
like dandelions and grass.

The blossoming of the moment
is ours to enjoy while we may
then like dandelions and violets
we bow to the end of the day.

poem by Tasha Halpert


What Do I Bring To The Present Moment

Recently I was thinking about my presence in the moment: a description of the Zen way of experiencing what is happening while it is happening, in all of its simplicity. It occurred to me that it is almost impossible to bring an empty mind and heart to any given moment because whatever I see, hear or experience is attended by what has gone before as well as sometimes in my mind, what is or might be to come.


Much as I want to experience reality from a place of “beginner’s mind” which is one way of describing a fresh, unprejudiced point of view, the best I can do is be aware of whatever judgments or previous perceptions I might have that can influence my observations. I first learned about the beginner’s mind approach many years ago when I went to a very special learning center and heard monthly speakers discussing Yoga, Zen, and other spiritual paths. Because it struck me as useful, I began to work on this.


Over the years I have learned to be more observant not only of what goes on around me but also of my own thoughts and responses. Usually it takes a while for me to see myself in action. Often it is only after tripping over my words or actions that I learn to notice my feelings and thoughts at any given time. Eventually I always hope to get to the point where I only think a judgment driven response rather than express it and then be sorry afterward for having said something I wish I hadn’t.


I recognize that I can only be aware of what I bring to any given moment. I cannot be present in any moment without bringing to it all the other moments it is attached to. My life is made up of all of its moments, and there is no escaping my recall that hauls up any related experience or judgment as soon as I observe what is in front of me.  Perhaps one day I will be able to have a mind that is truly empty as I bring it to bear upon the moment. For now, the simple awareness that I do not must be enough.