“Never underestimate the little things”, I often tell my choir boys. The rest in a musical phrase; the dynamic markings in a line or the consonants of the words they are singing are crucial to the overall meaningfulness of the song they are performing.
When we think of what might make us happiest, our mind might jump to the loftiest ideas . . . extravagant vacations, a big house or a really fast car (like a Corvette)! But all the current research suggests that’s not necessarily the case.
In a recent study, participants were asked to recall enjoyable experiences, which included ‘ordinary’ things that happened more frequently – such as a good meal or time with family – and extraordinary things, which were rarer and included things like exciting vacations. What the researchers found was, that the older the participant, the more joy they experienced from ordinary pleasures, eventually growing to match the joy we get from extravagant experiences.
The boys [who are all 9 – 13] and I have talked about what kinds of things make up the simplest pleasures that THEY can do right now and here is the list that came up out of their ‘outside the box’ thinking in no particular order, except for the last one which was the most popular:
- Read a physical book and not a Kindle or other electronic reader. They mused that the feel of the page turning and the smell of the pages was what made it ‘real’ for them. That, and the fact they can use a real bookmark when they have to stop reading!
- Get outside. Actually walk outside and maybe just walk around. Sunshine, birds singing and the green living things really are nicer than anything inside like the TV, computer [especially if they are doing homework or research] or an electronic game! They did agree that you can bring the electronic game outside with you, but that defeats the purpose of getting away.
- Take a trip to the library and look at books . . . hold them and smell them [for some reason the smell was very important]. Walk down the aisles in a subject they were interested in to see how many different kinds of books there actually were.
- Join a club or a choir [really glad they said this!] You can meet some really cool friends who share the same interests you do.
- Finally, eat! Pre-teen and teenage boys LOVE to eat . . . anywhere and anytime! Most of these boys eat one or more meals literally ‘on the road in the car’ coming to rehearsals or other activities. While seated and enjoying a meal with their buddies, there can be a lot of conversation, even talk about girls!
Regardless of your age or budget, your lifestyle and well-being can be as good as you believe them to be. The boys and I agreed that surrounding yourself with people you care about and filling your time with ‘simple’ joys can go a long way in giving you the positive boost you many need to be both happy and successful!
And especially at this time of year . . . it is the perfect time to try and achieve just that!