Contentment is Found in the Details of Our Daily Lives
Monday December 12, 2022

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“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all details of daily life.” —William Morris

The flocking birds to the cafés at Le Papillon, pine siskins, goldfinches and even Oregon juncos, chattered away so vociferously Saturday afternoon, their conversations could be heard through the closed windows while I pottered about in rooms far removed from proximity to the feathered friends congregation. Nelle napped on my lap as I typed and Norman slept behind me in an armchair singing a song with his sweet snores sprawled in a position perfectly depicting the term zonked. The late afternoon sun, emerged in front of the next storm front that would arrive in the evening, casting a warm brush of brilliance on the garden, and I savored it all. Soon the sun would disappear, the birds would return to their roosts and the pups would be popping about and then those moments would offer another opportunity to savor as well.

William Morris, the founder of the Arts & Crafts movement, a man who valued natural beauty, a cottage garden and the birds even when they were nibbling on strawberries grown to be enjoyed by the household (his Strawberry Thief wallpaper print is enduringly one of his most popular designs) shares in his quote above a skill to master as we choose to live a life of contentment, a truly simply luxurious life.

Taking a genuine interest in every detail of daily life requires that we be Present, wholly, entirely and sincerely engaged, not letting our thoughts drift to what will come or what was following or prior to that moment. It is when we hold our attention solely in the only place we will ever be throughout our entire lives – the present – that we begin to see all that is around us, and that is when we discover more happiness. Happiness, of course is found outside of us, but in order for us to see it, we must bring ourselves, grounded in contentment, to that moment – savor what is discovered, to revel, to dance to extend gratitude – not asking for more, but celebrating what is.

This past Friday, our neighborhood hosted our annual Wassail and Stroll-About-to-Gaze-at-the-Holiday-Lights evening event, and it is just as it sounds – sipping wassail, cider with brandy or whiskey, or a good Ale (as Bend makes many a good beer) whilst wandering about the neighborhood to discover the creative and festive decorations adorning our fellow neighbors’ houses. Stopping to top off our cups at fellow neighbors who shared warm drinks and nibbles, conversations were shared, pups and children played and this year, they played in the falling snow. A winter wonderland arrived just as the afternoon turned into evening, and a more picturesque snow-decorated event I could not have imagined. It was magical.

And because Mother Nature directs herself and doesn’t ask for input from mere mortals wandering about on the earth, we savored and did not ask for more than what we received, whatever that was going to be, and oh my goodness did her gift of snow bring smiles and happy exchanges with neighbors. These details – snow-shoveled walks, spontaneous snowball fights between young children, pups’ noses topped with snow and houses aglow with lights dusted with frosty flakes – create everydays that I pinch myself to have the good fortune to savor.

Taking a genuine interest implies a curiosity, perhaps even a fascination with life, daily life, and when we become curious about life, the life that is in front of us right now, we look more thoughtfully, inquire sincerely, and our appreciation deepens as well as the understanding of what we are witnessing, who we are meeting.

It is by being wholly engaged and interested that we let go of expectations because we cannot hold both – an open-mind and a fixed outcome of what ‘must’ be. Holding our minds open, we give ourselves the gift of surprise and growth while relinquishing disappointment and angst. A pretty sweet trade.

Our daily lives contain innumerable riches when we choose to be interested in the Now. Wonderment, deliciousness, beauty, life itself found in the floral and fauna, we are profoundly rich when we dare to let go of what must be and see what is.

Wishing you a wonderful day today full of everyday delights to tickled the corners of your mouth to rise. Thank you for stopping by today and bonne journée.

—image: (1) bowls of fruit found in Susan Hermann Loomis’ kitchen in Louviers during my cooking class in 2019; (2) vignette captured in Normandy whilst staying with Sharon Santoni


10 thoughts on “Contentment is Found in the Details of Our Daily Lives

  1. Sounds like such a magical evening Shannon. It conjured up in my mind scenes from a true Holiday movie! Thank you for sharing. Wishing you and the pups a wonderful week ahead. I cannot believe we are a mere 3 weeks away to the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023. It’s the time of year that makes me want to slow down and savor even more. Your posts are always a reminder to do just that ? Bonne journée!

  2. Shannon what a lovely evening and the snow made it so magical for you. Sounfs l7ke the pups had a l9vely time.I love this period just before Christmas as we partake in pre Christmas preparations.By sheer coincidence we also attended the Mayor’s party to switch on the village Christmas lights. Almost everyone in the village took part . The grown ups enjoyed lots of vin chaud and galette saucisse. The children had a wonderful time eating waffles with lots of chocolate sauce. Sadly no snow as yet. Have a wonderful week. Kameela?

  3. Maybe I’ve shared this before with this group, but there is a scene I absolutely love at the beginning of the movie “Amelie” where the narrator talks about what the different characters like and don’t like. The “likes” are simple pleasures – watching figure skaters complete perfect performances, cleaning and rearranging one’s purse or toolbox, plunging a hand into a barrel of coffee beans, etc. This post reminds me of that scene. We all have – or can find – these small pleasures, and I love that they’re different for everyone. Working to identify the things that I enjoy focuses me and brings me into the moment, which I believe aligns well with what Morris was saying.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful that at TSLL there is always something interesting to read that also stimulates one’s grey cells, as Monsieur Poirot would say?… 🙂

  5. Shannon, I sincerely enjoyed reading how you yourself find contentment in the details of your life. The descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I was there partaking in these moments too! Thank you for sharing real-life examples of the daily details that bring you contentment; they inspire me me to identify similar details in my day to day, and remind me that those details need not be grandiose. It’s all about recognizing those little moments that we often look over, and pausing to savour them ? Bonne semaine!

  6. I love the message in this. And your wassail and wander evening sounds lovely.
    Merry Christmas to you Shannon, and all the TSLL community.

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