Not too long ago, my ex-husband, Alex, brought us a big batch of his homemade almond butter. It is such a really delicious treat. I took a bite, and as I tasted it, I thought, “This is so good! I’m going to have some more.” And then immediately I thought, “No, I can’t have more. I’ll feel sick if I have too much.” So here I was, thinking about feeling sick in the middle of a good taste! Instead of savoring that wonderful flavor and pausing long enough to enjoy that deliciousness, my thoughts took me away from that simple pleasure.
This experience reminded me of how easily we can bypass the joy that lives in such small moments. I was also reminded that we can cultivate our capacity for joy by purposefully pausing in those moments when we experience even the slightest tendril of delight or just a hint of “Ah…happiness.”
I often turn to Mary Oliver as one of the poets who most inspires me to pause and savor the moment.
Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last!
What a task to ask
of anything, or anyone,
yet it is ours,
and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
One fall day I heard
above me, and above the sting of the wind, a sound I did not know, and my look shot upward; it was a flock of snow geese, winging it faster than the ones we usually see,
and, being the color of snow, catching the sun
so they were, in part at least, golden.
I held my breath as we do
sometimes to stop time
when something wonderful
has touched us…
The geese flew on.
I have never seen them again.
Maybe I will, someday, somewhere.
Maybe I won’t.
It doesn’t matter.
is that, when I saw them,
I saw them as through the veil, secretly, joyfully, clearly.
The poet “held her breath as we do sometimes,” creating a pause so that she could be fully present to her experience of joy. She offers us a beautiful teaching.
Perhaps when you next experience a tendril of delight or a just a hint of happiness, you might remember Mary Oliver’s words and
“…stop time when something wonderful has touched you…”
pausing to become familiar with how that taste of joy or happiness lives in your body, heart and mind.
Adapted from Radical Acceptance (2003)
Enjoy this talk on Committing to Joy
Photo Credit: Vinod Chandar