A Drop of Sunshine #2
February 2022 - Happiness Is Observing
Hello Dear Ones,
Art is observation.
If you don’t believe me, the great thinkers below can back me up.
“Art demands constant observation.” - Vincent van Gogh
“Paying attention to the world around you will help you develop the extraordinary capacity to look at mundane things and see the miraculous.” - Michael Michalko
And the Queen Herself…
“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” - Mary Oliver
But I would like to add this:
Happiness is to observe all the beauty that already is.
This doesn’t mean we self-edit or censor our feelings or embrace toxic positivity. But it does mean a conscious choosing to acknowledge all the beauty that already is.
To say, today I will be happy. Or, if that feels too big, in this moment I will be happy.
We must shift our thought patterns from thinking happiness is found in reaching milestones such as: I’ll be happy when: I get married/have children/buy a house/travel to *insert dream bucket list destination.
And maybe you are in a dreary place where being happy today seems impossible. If so, I’m sending you a virtual hug and please reply to this email if there is a specific prayer request I can join you in, or a need I can meet on your behalf. Though no one can understand your exact circumstances, all humans know what it is to feel despair. That is the beauty in the human condition: just as we read to know we are not alone, we are also not alone in feeling alone.
This is where observation meets us where we are. Mindfulness is found when you live in that delicious spot between past and future, the gift of the present. Observing gets us there.
It isn’t easy. It is work. Just like Mary Oliver says, it is “endless and proper work.”
I challenge you to pick one observation. Just one. Don’t create a 10 item gratitude list that you fly through. That can lead to feeling guilty about all you have and wondering: why can’t I just be happy already?
Pick one thing to observe. And truly observe it. Like an artist does. Delight in something. Embrace enthusiasm.
Pick something from the list below and nurture your child-like wonder:
Eat a piece of chocolate with your eyes closed. (Feb 15 means Discount Valentine’s chocolate!)
Bundle up and breathe that crisp February air, noticing how it burns your lungs and stings your cheeks.
Listen to music, with headphones, in a dark room, and be swept away by the strings, the bass, the piano. My favorite song for this exercise: (I Giorni - Ludovico Einaudi)
Pet an animal and marvel at the texture of their fur and the heft of their body.
Curl up in a blanket and smell a candle before lighting it. Become mesmerized by the flame.
Pick up a flower, a rock, a leaf and notice every curving detail, shade, and texture.
Will observing/noticing/mindfulness “fix” your life? No. Jesus tells us that on Earth we will have tribulation but despite the trials, we can find peace in Him. We can find joy in the beauty of His creation. Wonder at all the good gifts He gives us.
Until next time, I hope you enjoy this drop of sunshine.
Quote to Ponder:
“My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"
So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, "If this isn't nice, what is?”
― Kurt Vonnegut, If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
What to Bake
Paris Style Peanut Butter Cookies from Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty & Simple by Dorie Greenspan. The softest peanut butter cookie with homemade peanut brittle sprinkles and homemade peanut brittle butter swirl.
Dorie’s baking book was a Christmas gift from my sweet mom, and so far the recipes are 3 out of 3 keepers, all 5*. Her Cheddar Scallion Scones paired with homemade tomato bisque is drool-worthy. And her cottage cheese biscuits rose 3 stories, perfect for butter and jam. I’ll be happily baking (and sharing and eating) my way through this cookbook all year.
What to Listen To
My Favorite Creative Writing Playlist
What to Read*
Please read it so we can talk about it. This book made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think deeply about what happiness looks like in daily living. I first read it in 2020. Then again in 2021. I will probably read it again this year. It is such an important book. Just…read it, and then tell me you read it so we can discuss.
Question for You:
What observations ignite your childlike wonder?
For me, it is whenever I pet a dog (preferably of the fluffy-variety). Or spot a pretty bird. Or a sunset. Or a shooting star. Or hear a piano or violin. Or eat ice cream on a cone. Or scamper across the sand to the sea. Or wander through a mountain valley. Or step into a bookstore.
Or that moment at a play, right when the crowd hushes and the curtain drops and darkness descends and I’m overwhelmed with a sense of anticipation for all the excitement to come.
I look forward to reading your comments and saying, “Me too”!
Until next time, wishing you sunshiny trails!
This is awesome Shelby!! I do often observe nature, sometimes just in awe of it. I wish I could get out into it more. Very encouraging words. Thank you for including me!
Oh I just love this! So encouraging 🥰