Writing to an invisible audience, sweeping your heart out into a boundless Universe not knowing who is listening to it beat or whether the thump will be embraced or cast aside, is a courageous act. Fortunately for me, at some point during the writing of my last book, In Sweet Company: Conversations With Extraordinary Women […]
“I’ve come to a place in my life where God doesn’t look like any one thing but is, simply, everything. There’s a text from the Psalms that says, ‘I have placed God before me all the time.’ To me this means that my task as a religious person is to notice God, to be aware of God in every facet and moment of my life.” — Rabbi Laura Geller, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
Research from the growing field of positive psychology tells us that approximately 40 percent of what we think of as happiness is actually within our power to control. Experts tout specific practices and activities that can enhance our happiness: quality social interactions, forgiveness, gratitude, daily meditation, physical activity, regular “down time” and restful sleep. People who do this stuff on a regular basis demonstrate greater optimism and increased life satisfaction, a lightheartedness that measurably enhances immune system function and reduces anxiety and depression.
My friend Edie often uses the phrase “moments of delight” about her adventures and captures many of these moments in the photographs of the people and places that charm her. I think of “Edie’s Moments” not just in terms of what brings us joy, but also in terms of giving joy to others. And, as it turns out, kindness does have its own rewards: Not only does it make others happy but, according to researchers, it quantifiably expands our own well-being. Areas of our brains associated with pleasure and reward visibly light up when we give to others.
Moments of delight are not always easy to come by, especially in this day and age. We’re such a busy species, hurried and hassled and multitasked to the max. Like the Rolling Stones sing, “You can’t always get what you wah-hant.” Maybe not with the big things. Being in the present moment — being aware of our thoughts and feelings and what’s going on around us — can open us to delights that often pass us by. These mini-moments of delight, these connection to Nature, to self and other, feed our hearts and reduce our anxiety levels. They also make us aware of the holiness of the moment, lift us above the fray and connect us to the Source of all happiness. The simple act of “noticing God,” of “being aware of God in every facet and moment of our lives,” makes all our moments moments of delight.”