How to Cultivate Happiness: Savor Life Like a Child

cookiegirlI was working on my laptop at Borders Bookstore recently when a father came in with his daughter, who looked to be about 10 years old, and the son, about 6. They sat down at the table next to me and pulled out their homework.

Before they started their homework, the dad asked if they wanted anything to eat or drink. What a question to ask kids!

The daughter wanted one of those large oatmeal cookies with cranberries. Her dad went over to the counter, bought the cookies and placed it in front of her.

I tried to maintain focus on my work. I always buy a cup of coffee to sip while I work, but fight off the urge to buy the sweets. My resolve was weakening.

Little Miss Cookie Eater broke off a piece of cookie and studied it before she lifted it to her mouth. A little nibble, a little nibble, and then pop! the whole piece went in her mouth. She chewed it slowly savoring every cranberry and crumb.

Why couldn’t she just devour that whole cookie so I could get back to my work?

She took so long eating that cookie because she was clearly prolonging it and getting delight from every bite.

You can guess the end of the story.

After the kids finished reviewing their spelling words, they left with their dad, but visions, smells and crunching memories lingered. When I couldn’t stand it any more I rushed over to the counter and ordered my own cookie.

“An oatmeal cookie with cranberries. Heated please.” I said to the clerk.

When I returned to my seat with my wonderful purchase, I thought about how much children enjoy food and activities they love. They use every sense to experience what they eat and what they do.

So take a lesson from children. Next time, don’t just chomp into that shiny red apple or the tight crisp green one, for example.

Study it first. Turn it over and look at the many shades of color on it. Run your hand over the smooth finish. After you have become acquainted with the apple, bite into it slowly. Listen to the sound it makes when your teeth puncture the skin and pull off your first bite. Feel the splash and trickle of juice.

Slowing down to engage all your senses, to capture the joy and full pleasure from your experiences, cultivates happiness in your life.