Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feeling Good about Now Appreciating Simple Pleasures Is the Key

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Feeling Good about Now Appreciating Simple Pleasures Is the Key

Article excerpt

WHEN we finally buy a house, I'll be happy. If my boss would just get off my back, work would be enjoyable. If only my sweetie lost weight/learned to dance/appreciated me more, home life would be sweeter.

How many times has an "if only" such as these passed your lips?

Funny how we put happiness on hold with such statements. Not really funny, but sad.

But it's certainly not surprising. So much in our culture encourages us to buy the myth that more means happiness. That situations aren't OK unless they are perfect. That any kind of negative emotion is to be avoided at all costs.

Have you ever traveled in a foreign country and been startled to see the locals living happy, satisfying lives when they have so much less than we do?

There's a lesson there for us, and therapist Timothy Miller expands on it in "How To Want What You Have: Discovering the Magic and Grandeur of Everyday Existence" (Henry Holt; $19.95 hardback, $9.95 paperback).

He got into the notion when he got scared. Here he was, making more money that he ever had, being more successful, making his dreams come true - and still looking for that elusive, magical "more."

"I was scared that I'd spend the rest of my life as a seeker, and never be a finder," Miller says.

Many of us can identify with that. Miller noticed that many people seek therapy because of what he calls "disappointed entitlement." That's the feeling that fate has snatched from us our due: a promotion, a lover, etc.

"If failure isn't the route to happiness and neither is success, what's it leave?" Miller asks. "It leaves enhancing your own capacity for acceptance, contentment and generosity.

"Most joy comes from small and simple pleasures of life. Not getting into the Beamer, but listening to the mocking birds sing. That's what people remember on their deathbed."

Deep down, we know that.

"Yet the entire advertising industry is a conspiracy to convince us that happiness is just one purchase away," Miller says. But he adds that human nature is the real problem.

Because we're naturally greedy. That trait once served us well; it helped our ancestors survive and reproduce.

But, he points out, the problem is now not physical survival, but emotional and spiritual survival. …

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