I felt a big smile on my face as I was enjoying the blessings of my life. The sun was hiding at the horizon on the eve of 4th of July, the fireworks were lighting up the cloudy skies in my view, and I was sitting in my backyard tasting the delicious peaches that I had bought earlier at the farmers market. My loved ones were safe and my senses were all intrigued by the striking sight, sound, smell, and the taste of that moment. There was a lot to be savored and my smile was reflecting the contentment that I was experiencing. As I was mesmerized by the red, white, and blue grand finale of the colorful fireworks and appreciating the freedoms that I had enjoyed in this country for over three decades, some disturbing thoughts started creeping into my mind. I thought of the many hungry people who at that very moment were struggling to feed their loved ones; the soldiers who were anxiously awaiting possible harm in the front lines of a war zone; the terminally ill patients who were aimlessly gazing at the white ceiling over their hospital beds; and, the disaster stricken inhabitants of the cities who were fearfully dealing with fires, floods, destruction, and loss. The smile was gone.
A happy moment in my life had just turned into a sad visualization of the world’s horrifying realities. I wondered why we cannot hold on to the happy moments in our lives while we can easily let go of the comfort and peace that we justifiably deserve. After all, not only I had not done anything “wrong” to bring about discomfort to others, I had also spent most of my life making the world a better place to live in. Yet, it seemed like things were not “good-enough” and I did not deserve to be happy if others were suffering. The world was still affected by anxiety, fear, hunger, uncertainty, anger, and loss and I couldn’t do much about it at that moment. Could I ever wipe those feelings from the face of the earth? Can it ever be a “perfect” world and can I always be on the “right”?
“Right” or “wrong” judgments often distract us from experiencing reality. As long as we want to fix things from wrong to right we are insisting that things are “broken”. While we are tending to fixing things we end up losing the joy of what we “have” at that moment. Just because things are broken it does not mean that we cannot benefit from some values in them or utilizing them. That thing could simply be a relationship, our health, a job, our finances, or just a happy moment that we have at the present time. A broken leg is a nuisance but still a valuable part of a body, a broken heart is hurtful yet being able to fall in love is a valuable virtue, and having a demanding boss is hectic although having a job is a blessing. Once we are attending to the “rights” or “wrongs” and the “perfect” or “broken” maintaining a smile becomes impossible. As we struggle to be “right” and expect ourselves not to make any mistakes we lose opportunities for being satisfied or feeling “good-enough”.
If we believe that we are not “good-enough” then we will constantly be in pursuit of unhappiness. Naturally, when we do not accept our own shortcomings and flaws we cannot tolerate any “failure” in others as well. As we feel guilty or bad for our “wrongs”, we look for ways to justify our action in order to avoid the depressing feelings of “failure”. We will go on defending self, subconsciously bring shame to others, have an embarrassing or belittling attitude, get angry or frustrated, become anxious, and eventually lose more happiness. That’s the reason for the negative values in our world not going away; things can never be “perfect”.
When we are continuously fixated on trying to fix everything, we lose the chance for tasting happiness. Happiness is not the destination at the end of a “perfect” life; it is the jubilant sounds and the colors over the clouds that darken our lives on a 4th of July. It is savoring the taste of a peach while knowing that we can plant more peaches for others to taste after us. Happiness is with us in every moment if we take the time and notice what there “is” to be happy about rather than what it “is not”. Little things in life have flavors and their tastes can make us move forward in joy. Sadly enough we mostly pay attention to the end result or the gratifying aspect of things, rather than sensing them while we can.
We often take our five senses for granted and miss out on truly experiencing each moment. We are either regretting what we lost in the previous moment or worry about what will happen in the next. Our five senses are the gateways for being present to what “is” and by consciously utilizing them we can tune in to the happy moments in our lives. Like cherishing the taste of a seasonal fruit, sucking on its mouth watering nectar, smelling its refreshing fragrance, and feeling the heavenly blessing that nature has provided for us, tasting life can bring smiles to our faces. By tasting each flavor of life our facial expression can be an appreciating smile, especially if we are contently going about helping the world becoming a better place. Remember, it can never be better if we do not appreciate what we have NOW. Let’s show the taste of happiness by experiencing a lasting SMILE.