Monday, June 20, 2011

This is a favorite article I read from this site

Finding the Meaningful and Simple Pleasures in Life
by Karen Kuebler

I have a picture that hangs above the table in our breakfast room that has had significant meaning to me since I was about 10 years old. I first saw this picture when I was a young girl, and then purchased a copy about 25 years ago. You know when a picture speaks to you, and evidently this picture has spoken to me for 40 years or more! More...

It is a picture of an old man sitting at a table, about to partake of a simple meal and is bowing in prayer. He is wearing a comfortable green plaid wool shirt, and in front of him sit a small loaf of bread, a knife, a bowl of soup, a large book and a pair of reading glasses.

Why does this picture mean so much to me? I looked at it closely this week and thought a lot about it. I was touched on a variety of levels. I will attempt to express how I am affected by this picture, although this isn’t in any specific order.

To begin with, the man is blessed with what is most important to sustain his life. Perhaps he is single or widowed and doesn’t share a companion, but he is content with himself. He is surrounded by shelter, warm clothing, a simple but adequate meal, something substantial to read and challenge his intellect -- and eyeglasses to enable him to read!

Secondly, he is displaying meaningful appreciation and gratitude for these few simple pleasures that are most important to sustain life. It made me think how often we forget about the core elements that are most important, and start to worry about so many side issues that are mostly out of our control.

This man is NOT dealing with the complex issues of war, the state of the economy, whether his CD’s are earning 2% or 5%, or whatever horrific news might have occurred that day.

There is no sign of a television, radio, telephone, newspaper, or other forms of stimulus we have become accustomed to. What appears most essential in this picture is the ability that the man has to communicate with a higher power, be content with himself, and appreciate simple moments and pleasures.

This is especially meaningful to me right now. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day news and worries that are so far beyond my control. In addition to political and economic worries, we each are dealing with our own personal family issues and troubles. We tend to magnify smaller problems in our lives far beyond the significance they deserve.

So what if it’s a bad hair day? Make-up can’t hide the dark circles and I’m looking older than I would like. If it sounds like I’m trivializing these things, it is because I suffer from discomforts such as these more than I care to admit.

Somehow, this picture brings back the serenity I seek and helps me to feel grounded whenever I look at it. What is most important in our lives during this time of fear and terrifying distress? I need to focus on what I can control, and be thankful for the simple things in life that help me make it through one day at a time.

Maybe it was coincidence, but tonight I made a loaf of homemade bread and potato soup. It was the most comforting and satisfying meal I could have had on a rainy night. (Plus I knew I was saving money!) Coincidently, after eating dinner I passed by the picture which touched me once again. I stopped and really took the time to observe what was going on, and what the artist was trying to tell me.

I came away with a message that life is self-sustaining. We will need to continue to make our individual choices in light of whatever political choices are being made by those beyond our control. We will need to continue to make choices that will allow us to sustain ourselves and our families, in spite of the economic conditions of the world. Challenging? YES! Impossible? NO! We can survive the tough economical times, one step at a time and one choice at a time.

We have the “choice” to invite peace, serenity, and comfort into our own life each day. Sometimes, during one of our bad days, we might make the choice to invite chaos and anger to join us. Knowing this, we can consciously make changes to recreate a peaceful environment and/or sense of self. It’s simply a matter of deciding what our real objectives are and what we want to accomplish that day or evening.

I have discovered that often when I'm experiencing feelings of distress, I don't always make the wisest financial choices. I might justify spending because I've had a rotten day or because I deserve it. I have often rationalized going out to eat as a way to comfort myself. It becomes a vicious cycle -- I'm feeling stress and then I add to my stress by making financial choices that stress me even more later!

Some of the most simple concepts are the most difficult to practice. Sometimes a visual or physical reminder, like my special picture, can help keep us mindful of what is most important to us. Identify or create your own “cues” to help you feel grounded when life is feeling too complex.

It really is the simple moments in our lives that matter the most. My mother used to say “Do you realize we are creating a memory right now?” What a simple, yet profound message. Your simple moments will create tomorrow’s memories. I hope that your days and weeks are filled with many simple moments that you will appreciate and enjoy while you are experiencing them.

I'll close this article with a favorite quote of mine from "The Little Prince" by Antoine De Saint-Exupery: "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

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