By nature, I am a cynic. I learned very early on that real life is not sunshine and lollipop-based, and, while a healthy dose of reality is, well, quite healthy, it does not a bubbly or optimistic child make.
In recent year, however, I have come to believe that we do have the power to create our own reality. At least to a certain extent. You know those choose your own adventure books that were so popular back in the 80s and 90s? Well, I believe that in the story of our lives we can choose our own demeanor. Not loving the situation you are in or the way you are feeling? Simply turn the page.
I know what you're thinking, "this flakey hippy chick has read The Secret one too many times and thinks she can manifest her own destiny." Well, you're three-quarters right. I am a bit of a hippy and I do believe that what we put out there directly correlates with what we get back, but I have yet to read The Secret. My cynical inner child just won't buy into the hype, go figure.
For most of my life, I was a bit fuzzy about what exactly happiness was. It sounds slightly ridiculous to say it out loud, but the whole concept of elation just eluded me. I understood contentment, but what was all this fuss about happy?
One day, not so long ago, it dawned on me. Maybe I was just looking for these huge, monumental, joyous feelings to hit me over the head instead of keeping stock of the little things that happened daily that made me smile.
With that realization, I started to keep tabs on my blog of the simple pleasures -- and I do mean simple, a lot of them take place at the grocery store or in my apartment -- my life and the people I share it with, offer me on a regular basis.
I started practicing gratitude and, though it makes the cynic cringe to say it, doing so has genuinely had a positive effect on my attitude. I'm not saying it's a cure all, but taking a moment to smile about the good instead of brooding over the bad can't really hurt in the grand scheme of things, can it? To that end, here's what's been doing the trick for me this month.
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The Top Ten Things Worth Smiling About This October
1. Super grey, drizzly days spent under fluffy white duvets.
2. The tea aisle. I don't know what it is, but even just standing there face to face with a wall of uncharted flavour profiles is comforting it's own right. Choose a box, take it home, brew a pot and revel in the most glory hot water can provide. And those messages of internal reflection and inspiration on the box, just forget about it. Now those people are writers!
3. Riding boots.
4. Comfort cooking. Beef stew, stroganoff, roast chicken; there's just something about choosing a classic recipe and tackling it on a Sunday afternoon that makes your insides and your outsides smile.
5. The moment you step outside and get blasted in the face with the distinctive smell of Halloween. Admit it, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
6. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin muffins. I dig the orange stuff, what can I say?
7. Knitwear. Admittedly, as a freelancer who averages two workouts a day, it's not all that often that I wear real human clothes. On those special days when I do cast the Luon aside, though, there is nothing quite as enjoyable as layering up in luxuriously fabricated knits. Way easier to get out of bed when there is a cashmere swaddle waiting, but as noted in number one, even that isn't always persuading enough.
8. Those rare (or at least for me they are rare) yoga classes where the instructor gods are smiling on you and everything -- not just your poses -- fall into perfect alignment.
9. All the unique seasonal goods at the farmers' market and the kitchen experimentation that comes along with them. Not yet entirely clear as to whether my new found market frequenting qualifies as more hippy or yuppie these days, but after discovering dandelion greens I don't really care. Maybe I'm best classified as a yippy? Or a hi-uppie perhaps?
10. Leaves on the ground. Sun in the sky. Legs that walk and free time to do so.