If we imagine what it would be like to be in a constant state of happiness, most of us would envision it as ‘enjoying every moment to its fullest’. Now, if we think about ‘enjoying each moment to its fullest’, even the happiest people do many of the things which the ‘ordinary’ people do each and every day. Remember, ‘ordinary’ or otherwise, we are more similar with each other than not.
Much of our daily regimen would not change, even if we won the financial and emotional lotteries. We’d still be getting up, eating, and so on. By simple logic then, we can see that much of the time we would have the same opportunity to be as happy as the people we imagine to be happy all the time.
We know that many people who are much better off than the ‘ordinaries’ in financial terms are not happy campers at all! What does it take to be one of those individuals who can transgress the ‘ordinary’ life into one of continuous joy? If it’s not money, if it’s not circumstances, what is it? Even good health is not enough to keep some people in a constant state of joy, is it?
Well, aside from the awareness of giving oneself the greatest opportunity to learn, to be healthy and to be sociable, it takes an inner appreciation of life and the world around us. I call this Found Beauty.
Found Beauty is something which I remember being given to me by my mother. Back then, I was eleven years old and I thought it was a dreary afternoon; shivery, cold, wet and dim. I bemoaned my thoughts to my mother and she came back her typical smile and happily said, “No, that’s your thoughts about it; the trees and plants like it, the birds and animals like it, the people that ski like it!”
I was about to come up with more reasons why I could validate my displeasure with the day and she continued, “Come here, by the window…take a look at the branch, what do you see?” Well, that was easy. I told her I saw a droopy, wet branch with a grey sky behind it. I’ll not forget what she shared with me next. She said, “Look at just the end of the branch, right where the water droplet is forming. If you move this way and that you can see it glisten in the little light we have. If you look even closer you can see the front yard upside down in miniature through the lens created by the water droplet. It captures and transmits more of the light because of its shape. The image in the water droplet is brighter than it really is outside”. I looked closely and sure enough, I could see a beautiful world inside the water droplet, I just had to look close enough. Next, I wanted to go outside to look even closer. I put on my jacket and boots and eagerly marched out the door to investigate. When I came back in, I realized what had just happened; my lousy day had just turned into an interesting day, just by looking closer it changed my perspective, I was looking for the good… ah, found beauty.
Now, I have lived many years with this awareness my mother gave me. Often, when I am ready to allow unhappiness to overtake my mood I think to myself, “Where is the good? What is joyful about this?” By simply asking myself those questions my mind automatically addresses the query and begins to look for the good. Our subconscious pays attention to what we think about and acts on those thoughts, with purpose.
It’s been decades since my early lesson in finding beauty and now I must admit that even I am still amazed sometimes at how the question ‘where is the good?’ always seems to have an answer, we simply have to look close enough… just like the water droplet. Someone once asked me, “OK, where’s the good in your mother passing away?” I thought for less than a heart beat and remembered the times she would say to me “It’s not how long you live; it’s more about how you enjoy each and every moment.” Obviously, the good was that indeed she did live, and enjoyed living. Death is simply a stage of living. How she lived was the glory. I then thought of so many happy times, the joys of family life…before I knew it I was beaming and bingo! … Found Beauty.
Today, among other things, I am a photographer of Found Beauty. Through the lens I have allowed myself to find and see things which my creative pursuits. Today, I realize wonderment on a continual basis through finding beauty in the world around me. Others see a rusted wheel rim in an alley; I find the colorful dandelions growing through the hole in the middle, both weed and wheel composing their own beauty. Others see spilt oil on the ground; I see a brilliant, detailed reflection of the sky within the black spill. If we choose to clean up the spill, we can then find beauty in the result. Finding Beauty just doesn’t have to stop, ever.
Found Beauty works with any and all situations. If you can’t afford to go inside the Art Museum, find the beauty in the building itself. You see, you must be the willing one.
The best thing is this: Found Beauty is therapeutic for every level of the human experience. The more beauty you look for, the more you’ll find. Beauty can be found in any or all situations, things or thoughts. It is a Right of Life; heck, it’s even tax free!
Found Beauty reduces stress. A mind that looks for Found Beauty will be in a state of gratefulness more often and will tend to drift toward pleasant thoughts when idle. With a relaxed mind our health is demonstrably better, we sleep sounder and we enjoy life more…isn’t that what we want?
A pessimistic mind tends to look for reasons why it won’t or can’t; it will outline problems. When that mind is idle, it turns to less than happy thoughts - automatically, out of habit. The owners of these minds often say, “I can’t help it, these thoughts just come”. I don’t believe it! It’s about what you condition yourself to find in life’s situations. A gold miner does not find gold because he is a gold miner; it is because he is actively pursuing gold, using all his knowledge to maximize the chances of finding the gold.
So too is it with your life. Will you have the ‘Golden Years’? Will you become one of the ‘lucky’ ones? Don’t wait to win a lottery; Found Beauty is there for everybody, just like the gold has been there for everybody. The difference is the ones that find gold are the ones that were looking for it. Become aware of the power of your thoughts. Allow yourself maximum happiness through the gift of Found Beauty. It’s everywhere, in abundance.
Jos Van Poederooyen