I’m often surprised and disappointed at how little it takes to upset me and how little it takes to make me happy.
Not because I think my life should be all smooth sailing, but because I thought it would be big events that would be required to make me happy or bring me down.
More than that, I know that many of my problems (and joys) are small compared to those that others face.
I’m not starving or living in a war zone or homeless or dealing with terminal illness.
People talk about them as ‘‘first-world problems’’.
In many ways this just compounds my problem, because now I feel guilt and shame for feeling the way I feel.
Why should I feel sad when I live in a safe, comfortable home, with a refrigerator and pantry full of food, with no fear that I will cross paths with a suicide bomber or Ebola victim while I’m going about my business?
Yes, there is a lot to be grateful for, but the truth is my life is mostly made up of small stuff.
I like my coffee hot, I like to do my crossword first thing in the morning, I like to plan my week out ahead of time, so that there is still a little time for me.
According to research by DoubleTree involving 2000 adults, more than a quarter said a few little things would cheer them up, and the research determined that little surprises provided us with the greatest amount of happiness, with 82 per cent saying the best things in life were unexpected.
It is the small, and often unexpected, pleasures in life that can make us smile each and every day to help us build happier and more meaningful lives for ourselves and for others.
If I see a Facebook post with one of my grandchildren doing something cute, I’m happy.
Thirty minutes of dealing with bureaucracy (phone company, local government, church) then I can feel ready to do and say things that I will later regret.
Richard Carlson in his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, says that there are two rules for living in harmony:
1: Don’t sweat the small stuff; and 2: It’s all small stuff.
He says, ‘‘To a large degree, the measure of our peace of mind is determined by how much we are able to live in the present moment. Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year, and what may or may not happen tomorrow, the present moment is where you are always’’.
Here are five little things that bring me happiness (you may like to add your own):
1. Finding money in my pocket that I didn’t know I had.
2. Climbing into bed when you have fresh sheets.
3. Watching children playing and laughing together.
4. A stranger giving me a genuine smile.
5. Spending time in my home when it is tidy and clean.
Jesus advised his followers not to worry, saying, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.
‘Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
‘Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.’ (Matt 6:25-26)
This is the gospel and it’s good news.
— Brian Spencer, Minister, Tatura Uniting Church