I had just been reading an interesting article about a symbol for happiness by a life coach. She wrote we should carry a symbol with us that reminded us of a true happy moment and whenever we looked at it we should stop for a short while and think about what it represented.
- Tom! Did you hear me?
My wife´s tone made me sigh, put the newspaper away and rise.
- Ok, ok, I´ll go.
I opened the front door and saw our next door neighbor, Mrs Fitzpatrick, sitting on her porch. She had a cast on her leg. I saw her watching the lawn and tapping her chin with her finger.
The lawn. That was what had made my wife to push me through the door.
- Just look at it! All those weeds! She can´t mow it herself. You go out now and do what a good neigbor should!
And so I had come to mow her lawn on this beautiful Saturday morning.
- Ah, Tom! she waved at me and smiled broadly, - Good to see you! Here, come sit with me for a while.
I got to her porch and sat on a bench.
- Beautiful morning! she beamed at me.
- Err, yes, it sure is, I said. I hadn´t expected her to be this cheerful with a broken leg and all.
- Just looking at my lawn, she said.
- Oh yes, the lawn. Well I came here to...
- Isn´t it just beautiful! she interrupted me.
I shut my mouth. I looked around. Weeds, dandelions... Not at all the velvety green lawn like everyone else´s in the neighborhood.
- Just look at those dandelions!
I did just that. Saw the lawn positively overtaken by them. They should be dug up with their roots and soon. I sure hoped my wife did not think I would do that too. Mowing the lawn would have to do for today.
- Now dandelion sure is a symbol for happiness! she smiled.
- I´m not sure I follow... I stammered, - A dandelion as a symbol for happiness?
- Look at that bright beautiful yellow color! If that isn´t a happy cheerful color, I don´t know what is! And it spreads just like happiness.
She laughed at my expression.
- I know, you think I´m batty. But just think about it! If you are really happy, you do good things that bring joy to the people around you. And once they get happy, they do the same. And so the happiness spreads. Just like a dandelion. It blooms, sharing its shiny sunny color with everyone and sends its seeds into the wind - and before you know it, you have a hundred copies of the sunny little flower around you.
- But it is a weed... I tried.
- A weed, that´s funny. I´ve been sitting here for a while now, watching everyone work on their garden. And I mean work. It doesn´t look very joyful - just working to make you lawn look short and thick and green. You know I never see any of the neighbors sit and just look at their beautiful lawn. They just work on it and don´t enjoy it.
Well she sure got that one right. I never heard anyone talk about their lawn unless it was to complain how much work it was.
- Everyone seems to be complaining about how stressfull life is, she said.
And then she said the thing I wrote down once I got home. I still write it on the first page of all my calendars when the new year begins, and glue a little picture of a dandelion next to it.
- What a bad day, they say. And I look at the dandelions and see a thousand little suns.
Our days are so filled with things to do these days that we seem to start running from the moment we get out of bed. Busy busy busy… In our hurry we forget to admire the beauty of life all around us - in those tiny little details like the daffodils in this story. Often it is an illness or some unexpected event that forces us to stop and gives us time to look at our surroundings instead of running through them.
Choose one thing to look at
Try to relax your mind today by choosing one thing today. It can be a flower, it can be a painting, it can be your pen if you wish.
Stop and really look at it
In your mind imagine how it ended up there, next to you.
How the flower developed from a seed that came from another flower and so on. Makes your mind wonder about the millions of years it took for the flower to develop - perhaps helped by human work.
How a painting was nothing but an empty surface, tubes of color and an idea in someone´s mind. The hours it took the painting to be born.
How someone, somewhere in this world earns a living by making those ball point pens you use every day - and that someone has actually taken the time to design it. Wouldn´t it be interesting to know who?
Our lives are surrounded by these stories. Just a few minutes of this exercice each day stops your mind from rushing forward, makes your imagination develop wonderful stories - and who knows: perhaps give you ideas you might use to make a better life for youself. A little thinking oasis of a few minutes that can be really invigorating.
The thing you concentrate on can also be a symbol for happiness you have chosen. A picture of your loved one. A little mascot someone gave you.
Also, when you look at the things around you you may find a new surprising symbol for happiness - something you can deliberately choose to look at to feel better. You might even make your symbol for happiness yourself. Draw it, make a piece of jewelry, frame it on your wall...
Happiness is a state of mind and this little exercise helps you stop in your now-moment. That is one of the most important factors in learning how to be happy.
You know what I think is a really good symbol for happiness? A clock-face without hands.