Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

Where is happiness? Where do you find it?

The $7 coffee pot we bought the day we moved in together–because we knew that functioning properly as a team might require adequate dosages of caffeine in our morning routines.

Stretching my toes against the curb while waiting for the light to change.

High-fiving the blinking walk sign's red hand, just because I want to jump up and smack something.

The strange satisfaction from deconstructing cardboard boxes and stacking them neatly in the recycling pile—and the way the open-faced scissors run against the tape and snap—split!—open the box.

Running my hands under hot water with basil-lemon fragrance, and then doing it again just because I enjoy the feeling and the scent. Cooking food in a pot and stirring it, without doing anything else. No phone, no thoughts, just delighting in the tomatoes. Watching the skin of the tomatoes shrink, shrivel and curl under the heat, and the center seeds ooze out into a sauce.

Sunlight streaming in through a window and running over like a cat (what? run? I mean strolling deliberately without a care in the world) towards the sunny spot, closing my eyes for a few moments. Yes, a catnap...

The sun shifts. Back to work.

Squeaky chairs and creaky old apartment doors and fixing the whines with magical cans of WD-40 (that stuff is amazing).

This is it, isn't it? These are the little blisses.

These are the moments that are worth it. These are the parts and pieces. Happiness isn't a victory, a destination, or an achievement.  It's not something I've won or owned; I'm not sure it's something I can ever capture. But when I start to look around for it, it shows up in the smallest ways, in the minutiae of moments, in the collection of pieces I often forget.

Life isn't felt in summation or as some frozen awkward final pose. It isn't a grade, it isn't a race, and it isn't something you can buy. Life is a series of moments, and is experienced as that—a series of simple moments. Change is hard not because ideas are hard to have, but because mastering the little moments is tremendously challenging. It's inside of the little moments that lies all of our life.

Life is a series of simple moments, one after the other.  Life is about finding the bliss in the moment right now.

Things like...

Licking envelopes closed and sealing them, addressing piles of cards and notes to send to faraway friends across the world. Writing positive postcards and telling your friends that you love them.

Calling people randomly because scheduling all of your phone calls becomes slightly neurotic. Catching up ... just because.

Tape, and all of its goodness. Tape tape tape. The sound of tape as you say it. TAPE.

A do-it-yourself at-home sauna treatment after you've had a cold for a few days: sinking your head into a bucket of steam and eucalyptus oil and praying to the sinus gods to let you get better quickly.

A classroom full of some of the most intelligent, talented students you've ever met who all let you take a short break and even send you get-well messages when, like this week, you run headfirst into a cold and don't know how to slow down.

Flying across the country to see my Grandpa and have him meet my man. Watching the two of them talk, and hearing stories of growing up hungry and skinny during the Depression. Him saving 10 cents and skipping lunch so he could spend that money on new chemicals for his chemistry set. Watching this smarty-pants have his eyes get wider as he looks at my mom and mock-whispers to her, "These here are some smart ones, aren't they?" about the work that we're doing in the world.

People who write back to my newsletters and posts, taking the time to share a part of their world (and their wonders and struggles) with me.

A seat opening up on the subway so you can sit down and sink into your book.

Dandelion Wine, by Ray Bradbury, and his reminder to feel the aliveness of being alive. ALIVE.

The kindness of strangers. Old people who still joke about love and sex. The beauty of medium-sized. New friends on Twitter. Honest conversations. Handwritten words on the internet. Hitting publish. Audacity and courage.

A small glass of wine on a Friday night, resting up. A glassy of bubbly lemon water with fresh ginger.

The little blisses.

What are your little blisses? What are the moments that make you pause, lift the corners of your mouth a bit, or crack up in a smile?


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12 Responses to Finding the little bliss(es): this is it.

  1. Kelly says:

    Sarah,
    How timely your post on the little blisses as I just had one of those moments about an hour ago. Its a beautiful day so I stepped out in my backyard to take a little break and found my dog laying sideways on the grass soaking up the sun after many days of clouds and rain. I recognized the sweetness of the moment and quietly stood there watching her, smiling and breathing a little easier.

    • Sarah says:

      Gorgeous, gorgeous! Isn’t this just it? Finding the moment to watch your dog enjoying the sunshine. That’s it exactly.

  2. Brianna says:

    10 free minutes to read a good book or a magazine. Cheesy Hallmark movies. Knowing I have a fridge/freezer/pantry full of groceries (or will on Sunday). Plans with a dear friend. Knowing I made the right choice when another friend chose to end our friendship after 12 years.

  3. Betsy Talbot says:

    Those first few minutes upon waking, anticipating the day while still warm and cozy in bed.

    The little spark of excitement when I discover a favorite author has published something new or a new author I just devoured has an extensive catalog of work to discover.

    The feel of a champagne cork coming loose from the bottle…the anticipation of the pop is thrilling.

    Cresting a hill on a trail and wondering what I’ll see once I reach the top.

    What a lovely exercise to start the weekend. Thanks, Sarah!

  4. Sarah says:

    Wonderful post! Loved hearing all of your favorite little happies :) Some of mine are handwritten notes and decorating the envelopes with washi tape, having my plants successfully growing in their plastic containers in our apartment, looking through a bookshelf full of books because it can tell you so much about a person, the first signs of spring – where the sun is shining, plants are blooming, driving with the windows down, and when everyone seems just a little bit happier :)

  5. Linda Sand says:

    Finding out your local store is once again stocking a favorite item you thought had been discontinued.

  6. Matt says:

    Here is one of my favorite ‘Little Blisses’ …Walking Barefoot across my Back on a sunny summers day & enjoying the view of Mt. Rainer

    Also….waking up to see a sunrise , sitting on my back deck with a cup of Coffee as the sun rises over Mt. Rainier

    Blessings
    Matt Geib

  7. colette says:

    Trying to duplicate the color of a peach blossom with colored pencils;then with words;then with all the thoughts it sparks.
    Handing fresh baked bread to a stranger.
    Mangos!

  8. It is amazing how the simplest things can change your entire day. For me, it’s moments of pure relaxation that come randomly throughout my week. These moments are rarely planned and happen on a whim, but they always reset my mind and body.

    • Sarah says:

      It’s the little, simple things, isn’t it? I’m always in awe of the power of breath, and how the power of a few moments of deep breathing can re-route my entire day. And, simultaneously, in awe of how difficult it can be to put even that simple step into practice.

  9. Deborah says:

    It’s true. We think happiness is ‘a great thing’ that should come in ‘lumps’ but really it is GREAT but it is all the tiny things that make us happy. I love it when the warm sun comes through the window and my little dog stretches out to lie in it, stroking her fat little tummy, I smile closing my eyes and putting my face to the sun. Breathing in the air and saying ‘it smells like England’ (I live in Madrid – Spain so that reminds me when I used to go and visit my grandparents and family), having ‘my seat’ in the corner when I catch the underground and sit with my book, walking in the park and seeing rabbits, taking my shoes off and walking bare foot on the grass. There are so many things!!!

  10. Renee Hall says:

    My moment was now as I stumbled across your post. Very well written. Thank you for the moment of bliss :)

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