This is an old post from my former blog, one I needed to read again, so I’m sharing it in case anyone else needs to read it, too.
It’s The Little Things
Sometimes we look for a sign, or a set of signs, to point us in the right direction or to reaffirm that we are okay. That beacon of light. The perfect job, car, or house. Earning that college degree. Owning the most tricked out motorcycle. Finding that perfect person.
I used to think life had to look a certain way. Let me tell you, this set me up for some incredibly profound disappointment. What I believed to be “right” for me was astoundingly wrong. I had no idea who I was, therefore I had no way of knowing what I really wanted or needed.
Life does not come with a set of instructions nor does it travel in neat, straight lines. The crooked path is often frightening, disheartening and challenging. However, once we learn who we are and accept that, the path begins to straighten out.
Today I find I am grateful because not only are those big things in place, at last, but all of the little things which thread themselves into the fabric of the whole of this life…they make it ever more sweet. It can be a look from your loved one, the way the love of your life reaches for your hand, a text or a phone call from one of your kids or friends, the way your dog wags his tail when you get home, the way your cat talks to you as are getting ready for bed.
It can be a smile from a stranger, the sound of unbridled laughter from a child, the sound of your name being called by someone who is so happy to see you. It can be as simple as stopping to help someone else. It can be as easy as not thinking about you for a while.
The other day I was wrapping up a treatment plan with a client. She is an older lady who admitted she was somewhat depressed because her grown kids, who live in the area, never called her or visited her on Thanksgiving. As a mother, I understood her sadness all too well. As her case manager, I could only offer my ear to listen and my willingness to help her find some peace despite her disappointment, and some concrete ways to do this. I found myself identifying with this woman. She worked hard, took care of her family as best she could, suffered a great deal of loss when her husband died, and she became depressed. She is in a home she loves, and has a husband who cherishes her and wants to help her be happy and healthy. She has the ability to “push through” and to be happy despite everything. And yet, when she talked about her kids, I could see this was the greatest obstacle for her to overcome.
Finally, I spoke up and simply said, “We can only eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Why this came to me, I don’t know, except this is what a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago when I was going through a lot of stress and unhappiness in my life.
The look on my client’s face was priceless. It was as if she had experienced an epiphany.
We looked at one another for a moment and she said, “That is amazing. When you look at it that way, it seems silly to try and take on all the world and the feelings all at once, isn’t it? Thank you!”
I wasn’t sure what I really did to help, but suddenly I think we both felt better. We came up with a game plan and discussed when we would meet next. Then, as I was standing up to go, she stood up and without a word, gave me the sweetest hug. I was taken aback at first. She was thanking me for all my help. I simply replied, “Thank you for allowing me to help you.”
Our answers to happiness don’t have to come with a lot of fanfare, or in a fancy package, or in a fairytale ending with a lot of flash and bling. Happiness lies within. It follows when we have the eyes and ears to notice all of those little things we have to be grateful for from one day to the next. Life does not have to go as planned for us to be grateful. We only need be willing to appreciate where we are, and God willing, where we are going. We can leave the past in the past and let go of what did not work. We can release our expectations of how things should be and accept that life is what it is, today, and focus instead on the moment.
December 18, 2013