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Come On, Get Happy!

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By Cathi Gerhard

When is the last time you laughed out loud? Typing LOL in a text message does not count. Did that joy require a lot of money or elaborate planning to achieve – or did it come from something simple and ordinary? Most often, the happiest moments of my own life have come from the unplanned and inexpensive.

I have received small gifts such as Hello Kitty socks, barley sugar lollipops, a Mickey Mouse Back scratcher, and an orange gerber daisy – all of those stand out in my memory much more than some of the big ones.

I would love to have a new car this year, but I am still very comfortable in my old SUV, despite its dents and broken air conditioning. Together we have traveled to many places, the best of those found off the main roads. Those spur of the moment detours have led me to great food, new friends, and beautiful views.

Some of the best scenery is located right at home, on my farm. We have worked hard to plant thriving vegetable gardens and bright patches of blooms. Our favorite restaurant is our back patio on a summer evening, where there are two ways to enjoy a glass of wine. Sometimes I pour the bottle into a fancy glass; other nights, any old cup will do – it’s just so nice to slow down and have a drink.

My perspective drives my happiness, and that takes practice in a world driven by constant consumption. The need to have things distracts us from what we already have around us. We hardly ever enjoy the moment because we’re already planing the next one. While riding this train of thought, we certainly don’t have enough time to notice the needs of anyone else.

How can we expect people to be nice to one another, when we can’t even be kind to ourselves? We need to stop the “modern” world for a bit, and take a few steps away from those chaotic tracks. That’s where all the happy, little things live.

My husband loves to watch the birds and the weather moving across the sky. I like to play with the cats or just sit with them awhile and share their peaceful zen. My favorite cup of coffee is the first one of the day, straight from the pot – certainly not the second or the big, expensive one in town. Nothing says joy quite like listening to a baby laugh (that’s why there are so many videos on YouTube, along with all those funny cats). I tend to measure my days by those moments of small, but exquisite joy.

It’s said Walt Whitman once wrote, “Rate the beauty of the simple things. You can make beautiful poetry on little things, but we can not row against ourselves. That transforms life into hell.”

I like to think that heaven is found on earth in every living thing doing its part in the natural world. Humans can laugh out loud and other creatures can’t. We have five senses to see, hear, touch, taste and feel –  how often do we actually take some time to use them all at once?

I wish that our stories in the Laurel Mountain Post could come alive and jump off the pages for you. We do our best to help you imagine more than the simple ink on paper can. Time is spent picking out photos and other artwork, on writing creative headlines, and meeting new people with stories to tell. And we enjoy every minute of it. As the other, more famous Whitman quote* now says again, “the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”

*(“O Me! O Life!” By Walt Whitman)

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