I’ve been ruminating on the above image for awhile. It’s the May page from the Mutts calendar I gifted my mom for Christmas, and it’s brilliant. I’d expect nothing less from the Buddha (or Patrick McDonnell, for that matter).
I think a large degree of happiness stems from paying attention. There’s perfection everywhere you look — in every nook and cranny of creation; in every bird and bee and flower and tree and human being you encounter. Yes, even in the antics of Karl Pilkington or the rumble of the weed whacker next door.
See also: Happiness Is an Inside Job
Miracles abound, from the way hair grows effortlessly on our heads to the light of stars long dead shining down on us to the vocal chords of Lorde. It’s all about SEEING them. Which is hard to do if your face is buried in an iPhone.
Take Buddha’s single flower as an example. Do you know what it takes for one lone bud to make its way into our wild world? A seed has to germinate via soil, sunlight and water. Then comes the root and the shoot, one bearing down, one reaching skyward to become a stem. Leaves unfold and a flower emerges, complete with petals, sepals, and stamens, ready to bear seeds that will in turn create more flowers. All that work — no effort. Talk about a miracle.
When we’re trapped in the prison of own minds, its hard to acknowledge the amazing. When our thoughts go awry we can make a silk purse into a sow’s ear, a lottery win into a financial curse or an appearance on Ellen into a career killer. In the timeless words of John Milton: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Once you start noticing all the wonders of our world, its almost impossible to avoid a sense of awe. When my thoughts are wandering down a dark path, putting my attention on the infinite miracles around me ALWAYS turns my mood around. It’s why I’m so obsessed with the outdoors. How can I feel depressed when I’m immersed in the miracle of all creation? When I’m basking in the unbelievable abundance that’s all around me? When I’m a part of it? The world is a goddamn gift.
We train ourselves to notice the bad. The unpleasant and the ugly and the mean. But there are so many fantastic things blowing by us that we ignore altogether. I mean, have you thanked your lungs for taking in oxygen and spitting out carbon dioxide today? Dig into absolutely anything and you’ll find perfection lurking — marvels and wonders and seemingly impossible feats. If that doesn’t inspire some happiness, you’re doing it wrong.
When we start looking for the miracles around us, we’ll find them. I’m constantly amazed at what I see in the dirt, the trees, the sky, the grass.
In the words of Patricia, from the most spiritually underrated movie of our time, Joe Versus the Volcano, “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”
Amen to that. Wake up. See the miraculous. Be happy.