Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Maybe black and white is the best medium for landscapes, I don’t know.

~ Fay Godwin

I don’t know either.  Yet, as much as color enhances, black and white seems to add another dimension to subjects.  Perhaps it’s by eliminating color that we’re able to see form more clearly.  In their magnificence, colors can distract and prevent us from looking more deeply at a subject’s form and contours.

Just before dawn and dusk, landscapes are void of most of their hues.  A similar effect is created by fog.  Color becomes less important as one’s eyes focus on simply identifying shapes.

Layers of hills and trees become more discernible in the distance.  In color, one layer doesn’t look too different from the other, but the gradient shades are more noticeable in black and white. 

The seasonal palette disappears in the absence of color.  It’s replaced with forms and shapes that convey a feeling of peace and tranquility.  

Perhaps black and white images provide us with a silence for the eyes that affects the soul in a way that’s similar to what our ears experience in quietude. 

Happiness is the harvest of a quiet eye.
~  Austin O’Malley


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Never mind pleasure.  Search out joy.  Pleasure is its shadow.  But joy is real, a secret splendor running through all creation.
~ Fae Malania

For as far back as I can remember, I have always felt happiest outdoors.  Regardless of the season or the weather, being outside in the landscape has worked wonders at setting things right inside me. 

As a child, I would delay coming indoors for as long as possible… denying hunger or tiredness, or that my feet were cold in the winter. 

I didn’t do anything extraordinary, just run among the trees and explore every nook and cranny of the yard.  In summer, I’d follow ants and caterpillars in their travels and check out every new bloom in the garden.  I was always on the move, and usually running from one activity to another.  In winter, I’d spend hours on end playing with the snow, skating on outdoor rinks or sliding.   

What I remember most from those times was how very happy I was, and how easy it was for me to be in the moment, undistracted by present concerns or thoughts of the past or the future.  I still feel this way when I’m outdoors:  all of my attention is focused on my natural surroundings.  As worry is lifted,  I feel lighter and more at peace.

It is impossible to walk rapidly and be unhappy.
~ Mother Teresa

Endorphin-releasing exercise, fresh air and natural light all contribute to creating feelings of well being while outdoors.  These have the same effect whether you’re four, fifty or ninety.  I also like the way me and my day-to-day concerns seem to shrink whenever I find myself in the vastness of the landscape.  It’s both comforting and joyful to feel small in the great outdoors.

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy. 

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The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust

Go ahead.  Get outside. 

Find your boots, your mitts, your hat and scarf.  Never mind how cold it is.  Get out there. 

Don’t wait for warmer weather, bluer skies or windless days.  Don’t wait for an occasion when you might have more time or more enthusiasm.  Get out there now. 

So much is waiting for you to discover…  wonders made for your eyes only. 

Give up your expectations and let yourself be surprised by what nature has to offer today that it didn’t yesterday… a bluer sky or fluffier cloud layers… sparkling snow or frozen mud puddles… delicate ripples or white caps on the water.  Just get out there and see for yourself. 

No need to commit to more than ten minutes.  But chances are, you’ll get hooked and stay out for longer than you’d expect.

frozen mud puddle

Nature puts on a new show every day.  Don’t miss it!

We must not be slaves either of time or health; we cannot dispose of either as we will!  If we thought of acting only when all the conditions were favorable, we would pass our lives doing nothing; or at least we would get out of life very little of what it can give us.

Go ahead!  That is a phrase I like so much.  Even if everything is far from perfect, we must learn to say it.  And things will go ahead, since joy does not come from without or from circumstances.  Its principal source is within us.

~ A Carthusian

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pink peony

Forget pink cotton candy, bubble gum, Elvis and Mary Kay’s pink cadillacs, pink slips and the Pink Panther.  Forget the color’s association with baby girls and all things feminine…  lipstick, nail polish and party dresses.  Just… think pink.

Pink, often called rose,  is considered one of the calmest colors to look at.  Its delicate blush is attractive, non-threatening and uplifting.  To look at the world through rose colored glasses is to see everything in a positive light.

rose sky at dawn

You may already know that Picasso had a blue period of painting, characterized by sombre arrangements of melancholic, seemingly disconnected individuals.  But did you know that his blue style was superceded by a rose period?  It expressed a changed life of personal happiness for Picasso, marked by closer relationships with others.

pink clematis

In nature, flowers like peonies, clematis and wild roses paint garden and roadside scenes with joyful jots of pink and rose.  The rising and setting sun may also blush the sky and landscape with a rosy glow.  Perhaps a walk at dawn or sunset may be just the remedy for a sad disposition.  If you’re really feeling blue, it might be helpful to gaze into a pink flower for a few minutes and breathe in its color.  It certainly wouldn’t hurt.  Just keep an eye out for the bees!

Frequently the wood are pink —
Frequently are brown.
Frequently the hills undress
Behind my native town.
Oft a head is crested
I was wont to see —
And as oft a cranny
Where it used to be —
And the Earth — they tell me —
On its Axis turned!
Wonderful Rotation!
By but twelve performed!

~ Emily Dickinson

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Photo credit: Rosalie Sawler

Could children who grow up in a country setting be happier as adults?  Though the area around Flandrum Hill is considered semi-rural, it shares many of the characteristics of country living:  namely, fresh air, lots of open natural space and the presence of wildlife.

Why would children growing up here be happier?  Country kids can play ball in a field or hide and seek in the woods.  They can climb trees or play in tree houses.  In the summer they can pick berries and wildflowers.  They can spend an afternoon looking for frogs, snakes or salamanders.  Living near the ocean, kids also have the advantage here of walking to the beach.  It seems obvious that any child would grow up happy in this type of environment and take this inner joy with them into adulthood.

But what advantage does country or semi-rural living have for adults?  Can we expect to be happier in the country than in town?  Certainly the larger lot sizes afford more opportunities for gardening and privacy to do one’s own thing without worrying about disturbing the neighbors.  But there has to be some greater advantage for so many people to be attracted to living outside the city when it’s so far from many of the services we rely on in our modern lives (shopping, transportation, entertainment, dining).

We can’t underestimate nature’s uplifting effect on our senses.  Perhaps just seeing open spaces, trees, wildflowers and wildlife on a daily basis makes people happier.  In summer or in winter, there’s nothing like the scent of fir or spruce boughs to clear one’s head.  From birds singing in the spring to the sound of the wind trembling the aspen leaves in the fall, each season brings its own special appeal.  Seeing a deer or fox on one’s drive into work in the morning makes life here seem special.  Simple pleasures, like feeling the morning mist on your face as you taste a couple of wild blackberries from the vine, would make even non-believers consider the notion that God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world.

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his Heaven –
All’s right with the world!   ~ Robert Browning

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