Today I was walking into Costco on my lunch hour when a man dressed in business attire passed me going the other way. He was pushing off and jumping onto his shopping cart, then riding it for as long as the momentum carried him...like a little kid, basically.
When he passed me, the man flashed a little knowing smile my way, and I'd have to have been a corpse not to smile back. It gave me such a burst of joy to see this man--all dressed for work in the grownup world--indulging in a little childlike fun on his lunch break.
What a small thing this was to have brought me such joy. It was just a man riding a shopping cart. But it made me wonder about all the other joys out there awaiting me, if I would only open my eyes to them. It gave me an idea.
Today's New Activity: Search for Small Pleasures
I told myself that over my lunch hour, I would remain as aware and observant as possible of what was happening in my immediate surroundings: not on my phone or on Facebook, not in my thoughts of the future or the past--just absolute mindfulness.
It was a pretty amazing exercise.
I noticed so many little things I wouldn't have otherwise. There were the expressions flashing over the face of the cafe employee, the satisfying clicking sound of the Coke machine levers being pressed, the bow-legged elderly man who made me feel grateful for not being bow-legged.
The exercise only lasted about 10 minutes because it turned out one of my coworkers had also come to Costco for lunch and we ended up talking. But I'm not sure I could have really handled more than 10 minutes at the outset. It was an intense exercise; it takes so much more work to really be aware, which is probably why so many of us check out so much of the time.
It amazed me to think that I'm 33 years old and I only just today discovered that I can dramatically change the course of ANY day at ANY time just by engaging in this kind of mindfulness. The exercise worked in the same way gratitude journaling has for me. It made me thankful for things in my life I'd not taken the time to contemplate before. And it made me realize all over again how pleasurable helping customers at work can be if I just really focus on the person right in front of me, don't think about the time or who else is in line or what better thing I could be doing at that moment. What a gift.