In The Way I See It

Coco Chanel once said, “The best things in life are free; the second best are expensive.”

Oftentimes I am trapped in this school of thought : for something to be considered happiness, it must be grandiose. I am not proud of this narrow-mindedness of mine and I have been trying very hard to revamp this ill informed opinion.

My husband once said, “If life is a graph, how would you draw it? Is it a dramatic, drastic up and down line? Like when you’re happy, the line goes drastically up. You’re setting a very high standard for your definition of happiness. Everything that falls short of that pedestal is not happiness. And what is the opposite of happiness? Maybe that’s why you feel depressed a lot.”

Then he continued, “If your life drawn in a graph is a stable, constant, straight-ish line, don’t you think it’s a more realistic perspective to keep? You’re not always looking up for your next excitement, for your next happiness. But rather, you learn to perceive many regular things as happiness. The mundane, day to day things in life that are often overlooked in your quest for grandiose happiness. That extreme swing of up and down isn’t very good for your mental and emotional health.”

I was stunned, because I had never thought about it like that.

You know that popular phrase, “Life is about the journey, not the destination”?

I think it’s similar to what my husband said. If I am too focused on finding that next excitement, that next big thing to look forward to.. (example : I must plan a party for husband’s birthday! a fall hiking trip for the family! a Black Friday shopping list for Christmas presents! a vacation next year! ) then I manage to forget that the little things that happen in the daily are very precious as well.

The daily journey is filled with little things that is well worth of being called happiness.

It struck me yesterday as I was eating dinner with my son. We split a turkey grilled cheese sandwich, him with a glass of milk and me with my apple cider. He had this happy,content look in his face and we were both saying, “Yum! It’s so delicious” I realized, this is happiness. I am happy. He is happy. It’s a nice feeling. It isn’t eating out at a restaurant, it is just a simple dinner with my little guy. It isn’t a fancy meal I cooked (though, of course that would be nice too), it’s a grilled cheese sandwich that took me all of 5 minutes to make because that was what we felt like having for dinner last night.

Then I began to recount my day..

I had a homemade Pumpkin Spiced Latte (PSL) in the morning. That tasted pretty damn close to Starbucks’ PSL if I do say so myself. For a few years now, beginning every fall, I looked forward to having my first cup of Starbucks PSL. It symbolizes  the seasonal change, gone are the days of scorching hot summer days made for pools and evening music festivals, and back are the days of pumpkin pickings and bonfires.

However, I can’t afford to keep buying Starbucks. Those little cups of spicy wonders can truly put a dent in my bank account. Starbucks ain’t cheap. So I found a recipe online and replicated it. Now I can have it every morning. And I can afford that!

I realized, that is happiness. A steaming cup of PSL on a chilly fall morning. And soon it will be boots and scarfs and sweaters season. The leaves will change color. It will then be time to go pumpkin picking and do our annual family tradition of pumpkin carving.

That is happiness.

I called my friend Vicky yesterday, seeing if she wanted to take her kids to the Botanical Garden with us. Her kids are sick so she said, “Maybe next time, thanks for thinking about us.”

It’s lovely to be thanked for a simple act of thinking.

It is happiness. To be able to call a friend, to share a few details of your day.

That is happiness.

My son and I went to the Botanical Garden. We played together in the pretend grocery store they had, he played in the sand, wade in the fountain, and fed the fat koi fishes in the Japanese Garden. The garden wasn’t crowded, it was a pleasant, quiet day, a bit humid for my liking, but it was such a lovely day.

I felt lucky to be able to spend moments like these with him. Children grow up fast, oh so cliche, but so very true. Soon my son won’t want to be hugged so tight, to be kissed, to be squeezed, to be held. Soon he’d want to do everything by himself. Soon he’ll be too cool for me. He’s already stopped calling me “Mommy” and started calling me “Mom” instead. One time I gave him something and instead of saying, “thank you Mommy” in his childlike high pitched voice, he said coolly, “thanks, Mom”…. which makes me feel like, oh dear, my 4 years old is going on 14!

It is bittersweet… but it is happiness.

At night before bedtime, we snuggle together on the reclining chair in his room, reading books from the library. He picked a book about dolphins last night.

It is happiness.

Two days ago I took my son to his soccer practice. We got to kick the ball together. I watched him on the sideline, happily kicking the soccer ball with his team mates, little boys and girls who filled the soccer field with infectious giggles and laughs. All the other parents were smiling too. Such a lovely moment to be a witness to. Watching the coach took his time to explain to Franklin how to do a side-kick. Watching Franklin slowly learning how to side kick properly. And the flash light of happiness in his eyes as he did it properly for the first time. The gleam in his face as the coach said, “There you go buddy! Good job!”

That is happiness.

Three days ago, my husband and I went to the Art Hill to watch the free Symphony Orchestra concert. It was gloomy, raining, and a bit chilly. We only had an umbrella. But I insisted we still go, because it’s our tradition and I am sort of big on traditions like that. This was our fourth year of going to the same concert. It was wet, muddy, and quite messy. But the orchestra played wonderfully as they always do, my husband wasn’t crabby (he usually doesn’t like messy things and places – he has OCD) , he was smiling and happy and cracking jokes. My shoes were wet, my jeans felt damp. But I was happy.

That is happiness.

Whenever I received a postcard in the mail from Postcrossing, I share it with my son and husband. My husband likes to look at the pictures and stamps and read the handwriting of the sender. My son loves to look at the picture, and have me read the message from the sender. We talk about the country the sender is from, google it, and look at pictures of that country.

That is happiness.

And then of course, in a sudden moment of epiphany, I realize… happiness is truly in the way I look at it. The secret is in the way I see it. A rainy outdoor concert, a simple grilled cheese sandwich, a cup of homemade latte, a soccer practice, a bedtime snuggle, a postcard in the mail……

every single little thing can be happiness. And just like that, life is no longer about reaching the next point of excitement, the finish line. But rather about stopping and smelling the flowers. And walking slowly along the trail to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Now tell me, what is your happiness?

9 thoughts on “In The Way I See It

    • Iya.. emang kalo ga ada listrik pastinya kesel bgt ya non.. Aku pun kesel bgt Kmrn wkt mudik dirumah nyokap listrik mati bbrp jam.. tp pas nyala lg aku jd mikir tnyt listrik yg stabil itu sungguh berkah bgt. Hehehe.

      • lah, km kebagian juga ya ternyata hehe. bener Wul, kita uda kebiasaan banget tuh punya listrik. aku gak bisa marah, liat bnyk expat di medan sinin yang mutusin ga mau perpanjang kontrak mereka lagi 😦 yg lokal aja emosi apalagi mereka

  1. What a happy life you got there, Wu. =)
    Just for a little comment about OCD. I have OCD too and I usually become crabby on a wet rainy day but there’s some days when getting wet could be so much fun and made me happy, those days usually involve another person to get wet with. =) Your hubby wouldn’t remember his OCD when he got muddy with you. =)
    Well, my happiness yesterday was…
    Bandi and I had coffee on Starbucks, ordered another shot of espresso, read travel books, discussing about our Venetian trail and then received a message from a friend who was inviting us to his house for a game and pizza. We moved our lazy asses and went to visit him and ended up having so much fun playing the multi-player online game Diablo. :p
    That’s happiness. =D

    • Venetian trail! That alone, I can imagine, is big enough to be a reason for happiness 🙂 your day sounds absolutely lovely.
      I must say, many times his OCD causes a lot of arguments between us because I’m clumsy by nature, and the opposite of OCD, haha. We are still figuring it out.. me trying to be more careful, clean and organized and him toning down on his compulsion. As you said in one of your posts, love is indeed a verb. Hard work it might be, thankfully with sweet rewards! Haha.

  2. Yes, I absolutely agree about hapiness you feel in every little thing happened in life.
    Kebahagiaan memang bisa dibuat oleh diri kita sendiri, dengan memandang segala sesuatu yang terjadi adalah anugerah yang patut di syukuri.

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