I believe happy idleness is a pathway to a purposeful life.
In North America particularly, we have come to reject idleness, and yet it is in the pauses between our seemingly urgent tasks and activities that we find our deepest contentment.
The everyday happiness philosophy suggests that it is life’s ordinary moments, small victories, and day-to-day joys that provide an infinite source of contentment and delight.
It is these incidental happenings, more so than big occasions, epic wins or brass bands trumpeting our achievements that sustain us and give us hope and energy. I first became infatuated with the idea of everyday domestic contentment while I was laid out after a major surgery. Reluctantly confined to a hide-a-bed in my living room, I was forced into a state of patient mindfulness. I lay, overlooking the Fraser River, watching spring arrive as the buds on the cottonwoods turned to leaves, changing from fuzzy yellow to lime green to a dark full leafiness.
Watching the sun sparkle on the water on some days, and the clouds gather and pucker in the sky overhead on others, I lay under a handmade quilt, stitched together by a foremother I had never met, her past handiwork touching my present, basting together my recovery.Receiving flowers, and visitors, and bowls of tomato soup, I realized that everything I needed and loved was pretty much right in front of my nose. The big ‘aha’ was that I actually didn’t have to go far or change much to have an ideal life, and this insight changed my coaching practice and my life forever.
Everyday happiness could also be defined as: every day, happiness-- a kind of a motto or slogan charging us to find happiness every day. Think of it as a maxim to live by, one that insists we take note daily of what, in some small way, puts a smile on our hearts. The premise here is simple: pay attention to the little things that make you happy. It is it is not the scale of the occurrence, but rather the attention it’s given that amplifies its impact.
We’re tempted to ignore the small sweetnesses because they’re so fleeting. We imagine that happiness arrives in the largest possible basket, one into which we can fit our whole selves, and just kind of lay there wallowing in joy. This is not the case. Happiness arrives more like a hummingbird – in a flash, now you see it, now you don’t.
The practice is to turn our attention to what brings us happiness in the moment, knowing it will pass because it is fleeting. Like the hummingbird, it will find another flower. Our job is not to hang onto the moment, but simply to notice it and, if we can, amplify it.
What’s nifty here is that putting our focus on something brings us into the moment, so the practice itself brings more happiness with it. We can say, "Ah, here’s where I am right now. Here is what happiness feels like." We get involved in the small moments and the more you notice your sweet happy moments, the more of them there seem to be.