REFLECTION: Over the years, I’ve grown to enjoy the ‘one a day’ practice. I’m not talking about an apple a day keeping the doctor away, or a one-a-day vitamin to keep the body ticking along. I’m referring to what are often called Day Books. They’re collections of short essays or readings – one for each day of the year. These reflections shine a light on ideas or offer new ways of thinking about or looking at things. The best of them spark new perspectives to carry through your day.
One of the first Day Books that I dipped into years ago was a gift from a fellow ‘balance-challenged’ friend – a volume by Anne Wilson Schaef titled Meditations For Women Who Do Too Much. I’ve enjoyed many different Day Book types and topics over the years.
This year, I’m dipping into The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. The author’s struggle with cancer and his study of the human spirit have brought a laser like focus to his thinking about life. He’s an insightful observer and a skilled writer.
The sign of a good reflection is when its impact lingers beyond 24 hours and past the next reading in the book. It’s three weeks now since I read Mark’s January 20th treatise, and I keep coming back to his idea.
In his piece titled ‘Being Easily Pleased’, Mark points out that cultivating a worldly sophistication as an arbiter of good taste (a keeper of high standards) interferes greatly with our ability to enjoy life. He suggests that if, instead, you treat everything that comes your way as worthy, you will find yourself more easily pleased. This doesn’t mean that lofty goals and high standards are irrelevant – only that value lives everywhere if we pay close attention.
This approach is so apparent in children. Not having been exposed to the ‘finer things in life’ – haute cuisine, designer clothes, or exotic holidays – they nevertheless find joy at every turn. A fuzzy caterpillar, a drippy ice cream cone, and a discarded bottle top are all likely to elicit squeals of delight.
ACTION: There is no age restriction on being enthralled and elated by simple slices of life. The next time you find yourself facing plans gone sideways, experiences gone sour, or relationships that disappoint, try challenging that grown-up, discerning, adult, judgmental mindset.
Look for a bit of joy or value nestled deep in the hardship or irritation. Try treating yourself to the ‘One A Day’ experience of being more easily pleased with what you find in front of you today.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK:
“One key to knowing joy is to be easily pleased.” -Mark Nepo
“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” – Soren Kierkegaard
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK: The Book Of Awakening – Having the Life You Want By Being Present to the Life You Have by Mark Nepo. Published by Conari Press. 2000.