DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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10 February 2010

Simple Living Series - Finding happiness

Thank you all for your comments yesterday and for the links you left.  Some of them are known to me, some are not, but I'll check them out as soon as I can.  One recommendation that really should have been in my previous post was  Notes from the Frugal Trenches, a UK blog written by a young woman, that is full of excellent information. And she writes for the co-op!  Thanks Luisa.
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Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, you just need certain things in your life.  Take pets, for instance.  If I were  living a strictly frugal life, cutting back at every opportunity, I wouldn't even consider having a pet dog or cat.  I would acknowledge the need to spend money on veterinary bills, I would know my animal would need good quality food and I would decide against getting a dog or cat.  However, I am not motivated by the need to be careful with money alone, there are other considerations.  I can't imagine my life without a dog in it.  I could live without a cat, and when Hettie dies she will not have a successor, but a dog is a different story.  When Alice dies, we will have another dog. I am certain of that. 
Buttermilk apple cake + black tea = morning tea happiness.

I believe strongly that we must all find our own happiness and part of my happiness is having a dog.  I know there is no reason to have a dog.  Our dogs are not working dogs, unless you call barking at strangers at the door working, nevertheless, they've been part of our home for many long years.  So why have a pet dog?  It's pure pleasure, they make us feel good, they give unconditional love and run around like mad bouncing clowns when we come home.  Who can resist that kind of wild joy?  Not me!

Everyday I mine my life for the pleasure it contains.  I want to live a life full of happiness, fulfilment and pure joy.  I look for it at every possibility, sometimes I find what I'm looking for, sometimes I find something deeper.  But I always look.  There is always the hope of finding treasure.

You have to do a lot of thinking when you live as we do.  You can't just coast through on automatic pilot because our lives are different to most.  We do more work so that has to be incorporated into each day in the most efficient way and you also want to feel good about it (most of the time).  Forget perfection, that only exists in the advertisements for products sitting on supermarket shelves.  Real life is flawed, but it is also beautiful and amazing.

Take knitting, for instance.  If you had never seen anyone knit, how could you imagine that a ball of wool and a couple of sticks could produce such wonderful and beautiful garments?  It's amazing.  I find joy and contentment in my knitting.  It's like a meditation - the repetition; stitch after stitch for row upon row.  Knitting makes me happy.

At the moment, when I look out my window, I see dawn's light slowly creeping into the sky.  It's not red, like it has been the past few weeks, it's grey and in front of the grey sky is a stand of pine trees that in the half light, looks like black filigree work.  I'm glad I looked up at the moment and found it lurking in my day because I know in ten minutes new light will replace it and it will look like what it is.

In the normal course of most days there will be many things that have the potential to make you happy if you look at them in a different way or with kinder eyes.  I know a lady in my own life who has no joy within her.  She sees most things in a negative way, thinks she is badly done by, always looks for, and expects, the worst in people and is generally a bit of a sadsack.  She never expects anything good to happen and consequently, it doesn't.  Her mean spirit turns people away from her and this just reinforces for her how bad life really is.  I believe that expecting goodness in each day and actively looking for and anticipating happiness makes you more aware of it and when those fleeting moments happen, you're ready and open for them to come into your life.

Don't expect blinding fireworks. I'm talking about all the small fragments of simple happiness that can be found in most days. Those big moments of happiness like the birth of a baby, a wedding, birthday parties, hearing "I love you" for the first time, or the ten thousandth, they are big things.  They're the easy ones.  But if you can look out for all those little bits that are scattered throughout the day, and collect them by acknowledging them, they will fill your basket to over flowing.  Acknowledgement is the key here - you have to notice and know what you've found.  Had I looked up this morning and seen a grey sky, big deal.  But I saw more than that, recognised I liked what I saw and thought about it for a while.  Look for the good, find the treasures - sometimes grey can turn into a rainbow.

These days are all we have.  We only live each day once.  Appreciate every day for what it is - your chance to live well.  Be mindful of your surroundings and the people you share your days with and you will, hopefully, find the sweetest kind of felicity.  Everyday happiness will be small and humble and you will need to notice it.  Taking pride in getting your work done - be that paid work or house work, knowing you did your best,  watching your children play, teaching what you know to someone who needs it, learning a new skill, baking your best  ever loaf of bread, hearing your family say: this is delicious Mum!, all these small things should be gathered up and thought about. These are not insignificant things, they are crucial. They will fill you up, they can fill your life up!  If you live mindfully, expecting to be happy, if you truly appreciate what each day holds - the good and the not so good, then you will get the full measure of every day.  And that, my friends, is quite an achievement.

55 comments:

  1. Beautifully and poetically put, Rhonda. What more can I say?
    Tracy (Brisbane)

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  2. Wow...so glad I found you..hopped over from another blog I follow! I keep chickens in my backyard, teach yoga (which helps with my mindful living), grow what I can etc. etc. we just seem to have a lot in common. Really fun to find like-minded women out there livin' the life! I look forward to reading your stuff...

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  3. What a perfect start to my day, Rhonda-thank you!

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  4. I think this is the reason so many people suffer from depression these days. They all think happiness is that fireworks, good golly hap, hap happyness. But you are right its the simple pleasures that make life worthwhile. If we all learnt to be happy in the little ways, the big ways only get better.

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  5. "In the normal course of most days there will be many things that have the potential to make you happy if you look at them in a different way or with kinder eyes."

    It wasn't until I began doing this that my days at home became brighter and happier. Those simple peasures now bring me the greatest joy - they were there all along, I just needed to look at them with new eyes.

    Thanks for the reminder Rhonda.

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  6. I just loved this post. It sums up everything I feel about life and wish other people would see that for themselves. We are blessed through all the small things of life!

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  7. Rhonda, what you refer to as 'a strictly frugal life,cutting back at every opportunity' would make frugality the main objective of living. I agree with you that there is much more to a happy & purposeful life than an obssessive focus on money management. Although the latter may be an important pre-condition for living 'the good life' (freedom from anxiety being a pre-condition for the good life), it is merely a means to an end. Hopefully there comes a time for all of us when we have sufficiently altered destructive old habits to shift our focus from developing frugality to bigger & better pursuits, whatever these may be for each one of us.

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  8. I feel the same way about my cats. We have three inside our home and enjoy playing, petting and watching their antics. We also have three feral cats in our back yard. We trapped them and had them spayed/neutered, then released them back into our yard (we have a local program that helped us with the cost).

    hey are not pets; we can't yet touch them or interact with them in close proximity. But we feed them and also enjoy just watching them. Each day they become more tame, stay out a little longer, come a little closer to us when we feed them and even interact with our indoor cats through the glass of our back door. They are feral, yet they are very much "ours" and they bring us much happiness. We wouldn't have it any other way.

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  9. I so agree with you about animals!! My hubby says our dog now is the last one (cause it just grieves us too much to loose them). So I have to let that be...but I am not so sure that when she is gone, he might change his mind. Life has been SO GOOD the years we have had a dog!! More comfort and entertainment...you get so much for your investment of time and money!!
    Blessings,
    Elizabeth

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  10. I just wanted to make a statement in relation to Angela's comment about depression. The term "depression" seems to be overused and used outside of it's true context - merely to describe passing disappointments, etc. But we need to remember that true, clinical / endogynous depression is a genuine illness / condition.
    Tracy (Brisbane)

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  11. Hi Rhonda
    Thank you for an interesting post. I've always thought it is the small things that make us happy, well for me it is anyway! Just a simple thing like using up the zucchinis a friend has been giving me, going to the freezer and finding the food I've made from them, taking pleasure in eating something I've made, the list goes on! And today looking out my window as I work at my husband working before the weather gets too hot, washing on the go, and just being here. A lovely feeling
    Thanks
    Judy in Adelaide

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  12. Well said Rhonda, once again. You have a lovely way with words.
    Have a great day,
    Gillian

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  13. Hi Rhonda, thank you for this lovely reflective post. And thanks for being a source of quiet happiness as well as inspiration.

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  14. Thank you Rhonda, You brought tears to my eyes. I really needed to hear this today. I still struggle with the housework never ending and the constant mess small children make. I now find pleasures in the small things I do.
    Lors

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  15. Thanks for this post Rhonda,
    I haven't been feeling the best lately and really needed the reminder to look for happiness in the simple small moments. Have a happy day everyone.

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  16. Rhonda, what a lovely post. While I am reading this my 2 dogs are playing around me, the birds are chatting in their cage, the rabbit is hopping like mad across the lawn and I am enjoying my first cup of coffee before the madness of the day begins. What better start to the day then reading your blog.

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  17. Rhonda...this is one of the most beautiful posts I have read here...truly sums up what I aim for each and every day...to savor the moment...look for the bliss and find joy in the ordinary miracles of life. Thank you!

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  18. Joie de vivre - my motto most of the time!

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  19. Firstly, thank you to you & Luisa. Some days just when we need encouragement, it arrives where and when you least expect it.

    Secondly
    "Buttermilk apple cake + black tea = morning tea happiness" - oh how simple statements like this bring me such beauty and joy!

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  20. Thank you Rhonda. I try to live my life this way, but the reminder was timely. A great way to start my day!

    Thanks again for the lovely post.

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  21. Thnkyou, this is just what I neeeded to read today. I totally agree, that we can't be penny pinching unhappy misers in every aspect of life. Life wouldn't be the same without our cat. Like anything, life is about balance not extremes. Thankyou for the reminder.

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  22. What another beautiful post. Thank you from my heart to yours.

    FlowerLady

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  23. Beautifully said.... We are given each day and we should live it to it's fullest. Make the most of what we are given and find happiness within each day.

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  24. I so totally agree with you. Since almost losing my daughter last year to blood clots it really makes you think about things. Like being so thankful that she is still with us today. Life is too short, sometimes one doesn't realize it until something happens.
    Good Post!
    Ulrike
    ~~~

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  25. Yes Lifes there for the taking.
    We each have the same hours in a day But how we "Choose" to spend them makes the difference.
    I take Joy in My morning Hot coffee....I have Hens,Most are no longer laying but here they live scratching away and wandering the property....Because They make me and my life happy!
    Simple Joys....Bring them on!

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  26. Rhonda, that was profound.

    Thank you.

    Lauren H

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  27. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    It's a while since I commented, but I do still stop by every day to read. I loved this post - very appropriate for me at the moment. In the midst of my busy life and all the different things the children are involved in, as well as just trying to keep the household running smoothly and healthy meals on the table, reading here helps keep me grounded and reminds me about what is important. As always, thank you for your input into my life, and the wisdom you share with us.
    Rachel L (from NZ

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  28. Rhonda,

    It has been a rough day. Thank you for your beautiful words - they are just what I needed.

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  29. Another wonderful post that really makes you think! Great message!

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  30. I couldn't help thinking when reading this beautiful post that it reads like somethings straight out of Anne of Green Gables. I feel like you're a kindred spirit!
    It's always good to know that there is somebody out there who lives live like I do and thinks it good. Everyone around me views my ways with a friendly kind of indulgence, thinking I'm a little bit crazy.
    Thank you! I always start my days with your blog over a cup of coffee.

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  31. Thank you Ronda for reminding me to be grateful.

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  32. I loved that! I'm going to print it out for my journal.
    I was feeling a bit down yesterday-regrets. This is just what I needed to focus and appreciate the 'now'.

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  33. Nicely put! Reminds me of CS Lewis, who pointed out that joy won't come if you look for it, but only when you don't.

    And you do know that guinea pigs are much better pets than dogs, don't you?

    ;-)

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  34. I needed this reminder today.

    Thank you.

    Pat
    (inquisitive_1ady)

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  35. Life can be hard , but the older I get I have realized that there is happy moments in each and every day God gives us. We just have to be mindful of them:-) And we too will always have a dog--corgis!

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  36. Beautiful post---I love your series. Thanks so much.

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  37. Amen.

    I am so glad to find like minded women. I am trying to embrace a simple lifestyle.

    My mother is one of those people that are never happy. There is no real joy in her life. I pray for her. But she is happy being miserable. She always feels that she somehow missed out or got the short end of the stick. I don't understand. My parents have been married since the 50's, they have four daughters that all did ok for themselves, they are ok in the money department. Yet she is never happy. I feel very sorry for her.

    I find joy in the smallest things in life. If you are so busy looking for the big amazing things, you miss the small meaningful things.

    Don't you look for the first violet? Don't you get excited about plants in your garden poking up? Don't you breathe deep and enjoy the smell and feel of your daughter's silky hair when she hugs you? I do and I think that is true joy.

    Have a blessed day.

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  38. Ones perspective makes all the difference, doesn't it.

    I am thankful for my life - it is not perfect but it is beautiful.

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  39. This was a beautiful and important post, an attitude of appreciation does lead to happiness.

    Thanks also for your post on making dog food, I made up a batch for my dog Penelope, and she loves it.

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  40. I have to disagree about the usefulness of dogs and cats. Our cats do us a great service by keeping our barn rodent-free, without them -- and we found this out the hard way -- we are overrun with rodents in the grain, moles in the garden, etc. The dogs too, keep deer from my garden -- gardening in this area is almost impossible because of the deer. I always have people remark at how my garden is not destroyed by deer. The answer is my dogs. We lost our only dog a few years ago and a buck came through and decimated all my young apple trees. After that we got another dog -- and the trees have been safe. The dogs have also in the past alerted us when horses have gotten loose and keep other small predators away from the chicken house. Upkeep can certainly be looked at in a frugal way -- I do all my own shots and we feed our pets from our own harvest. I don't believe in "fake" food for people, nor do I for animals.

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  41. Dear Rhonda-Jean
    I would like to raise a point if I may about you post today regarding a lady you see as mean spirited. I believe in your formative years there are many stages of imprinting about people place etc. Have you ever took time to think that she may have at some stage in her life had her emotional foundations shaken to the very core by someone who was meant to love and cherish her and sometimes you never recover form that, you learn to get by the best way you can, and I feel in order to do that the subconscious takes over in order to keep the person safe by keeping others at arms length. Your friend (no matter how well you believe you know them)may have had such an experience she may take about it she may not, sometimes what has been experienced is to dark to share. it is very unlikely that you will have the courage to trust another with your burden.
    With all good wishes
    Rachel Plymouth Devon England

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  42. So pleased to read this post. I usually find the things which make me smile most come from either my cats or the students I teach. I could not disagree more with whoever said 'never work with children and animals' - they're the ones who are enjoying 'the moment' and it's such an inspiration.

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  43. I really needed this post today. I have been having trouble staying positive through these cold winter months and you reminded me to find happiness in all I do. Today when I get back to my cozy home I will pet my dogs, cook, clean and bake with a smile on my face! Thanks Rhonda!

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  44. I am 'coming out' to comment on your wonderful blog at last. (Been reading for some months). Saw a quilting project once with the saying "Simple Pleasures - Lifes Treasures" and I think your post sums this up nicely. Thank you for making us think more deeply about what happiness truly is.

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  45. Well put. I loved the posting today and the picture. Are we getting the treat of the Buttermilk Apple Cake recipe? I would love it, please!

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  46. Beautifully put Rhonda. Thank you for adding happiness in my day

    Carly

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  47. Out of the blue yesterday I realized I am happy and I told my husband so. Money is tight but we don't spend except for what is necessary. But when one of my four cats gets on the back of my recliner, wraps around my neck and purrs, I know I would spend any amount of money on them.

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  48. Hi
    Would you please be so kind as to advice a beginner without a garden on gardening? All I have is a big windowsill and I would like to know which plants (that can be grown in pots) give the highest yield nutrition-wise.
    By the way, I am Dutch and out people are notorious penny-pincers. I feel like I have just won a battle against the Enemy whenever I find a cheaper way to do something... It gives me such a victorious feeling like "YEAH!". It would, of course, be cheapest to just die right away, which wouldn't be as fun. So the things I really want to do, I do as cheap as I can :)

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  49. Beautiful writing and view of life. So glad I was taught to read and write at an early age so that I could read and enjoy and write back how special you are to put these thoughts into words. You are a wonderful lady. Keep sharing.

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  50. Goodness, I love your blog. So beautifully written and a perfect summation of my exact ponderings of late. Thank you, Rhonda!

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  51. Thanks for the reminder---I needed to hear it today. Although I know and understand what really matters in life and I am infintely happy on my 'simple living journey', sometimes I get bogged down in the details and don't see the beauty in the small and humble things that make my life so special.

    Blessings, Patti

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  52. As always so well put! I never imagined I'd feel the same way about dogs, but now I completely am in love with the two fur balls we have.

    It's an absolute joy to notice the moments when the little things happen around us and to relish in them.

    Thanks again for so eloquently helping us all to remember it too....

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  53. I just love reading your site it is similar to our lifestyle,but we have only been here 1 year(NM),today as a matter of fact! It is funny how people wonder about their life's purpose and here you are reaching many and uplifting and teaching all at once!Thank you!
    Teri

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