Today I would like to talk a little about a topic that is very dear to my heart: making your day-to-day life a place of beauty and positivity. To back up a bit, not many people know this because I have not shared it publicly, but in my first year in college (many moons ago...) I suffered from a bout of depression. It was quite severe, and once I came out on the other side of it I really felt I was rebooting my entire life. I don't want this post to be all about that period, but rather about what I have learned since then. Because regardless of whether or not you have ever experienced depression, I think that many of us can relate to the feeling that you are simply trudging through life; getting by rather than thriving.
Every moment of every day, we have a choice: we can choose to view our circumstances in a negative light, or we can choose joy, happiness, and beauty. I don't mean to say you should ignore the negative parts of your life, or simply pretend they don't exist ... not at all! It's just that sometimes it's tempting to think that the big things are the most important, when so often, I think it's the other way round.
I think of the film Amèlie, and how each of the characters indulges in his or her own quirky simple pleasure: squeezing the fruit at the market stall, cracking the top of crème brûlée, skipping stones, walking in the sunshine, and turning back to look at the faces of other people in the movie theater as they watch the film. That's the beauty of simple pleasures: they are all your own! You can be as quirky as you like, and honestly, who cares if anyone else gets why you love what you love.
You may still be in the same tiny apartment, in the same unsatisfying job, but when you begin to infuse your day with small moments of beauty, joy, and pleasure ... well, these things allow you to immediately change your life for the better. You can be working towards your bigger life goals (a topic I will delve into more deeply next week) but in the meantime, you can begin savoring the thousands of simple pleasures that have been surrounding you this whole time, ripe for your taking, if you just seize the moment and notice them.
So savor your first sips of coffee in the morning, light a candle, put on music that lifts your heart, inhale the scent of lilacs on a spring day, notice the light filtering through the window, the beautiful mess of toys on the carpet (a marker of these fleeting days with little ones underfoot), step outdoors on your lunch break to watch the clouds, choose to turn away from the screens and draw in your sketchbook or write in the evening instead, savor the crisp feeling of fresh sheets on your bare skin as you slip into bed at night.
And don't forget to include your own personal, quirky, most-loved simple pleasures! For me, scents are very important. I love sniffing the pages of a fresh book, the scent of tomato vines in the sun, the scent of a baby's head, jasmine on a warm evening walk, salty sea air, strong earl grey tea, and freshly roasted coffee. When I lived in San Francisco in the outer Sunset district, I took the street car home from school and then walked all the way down Taraval Street to the Georgia Lee apartments near the cold, windy beach. To help pass the time, I often turned my daily walk into an exercise in noticing scents: there was the whiff of exhaust along the busy road, and then the scent of fresh laundry being dried, steam buns and hot and sour soup, garbage cans, wet pavement, honeysuckle trailing over a fence, and finally, the faint scent of the sea.
I'm curious: what are your simple pleasures? Where do you find joie de vivre in your daily life?