Being positive and leaning into mindfulness is not easy. Trying to see the silver lining when you feel like your “life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes”, is challenging, and being bombarded by social media posts that purport to have the secret to well-being and positivity certainly doesn’t help. The truth is, no one has the answer on how to be happy, because what makes us happy as individuals is entirely different.
As Anne Shirley once said to Marilla Cuthbert,
"I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”
This is a quotation that resonates. Anne Shirley did not have the most ideal start to life; orphaned as a baby and shunted from place to place as if she were a problem to be passed on to the next person to deal with. By all rights, Anne could have been miserable. Instead, she focused on little things in her life to find joy: her window friends, the smell of a flower, passages in books she had read, and of course the stories conjured up by her imagination.
Even after life improved and she came to Green Gables, she enjoyed the simple little pleasures that she found in each day: spending time with her bosom friend Diana, walking in the pasture with Matthew as he brings the cows home, picking flowers just because they look beautiful, reciting poetry because it gives her a thrill to say the words aloud.
Anne never seems to take anything for granted and because of this, her appreciation of the simplicity of everyday elevates her even when times get tough. Even as she matures and becomes more grounded, she retains the ability to find something that brings happiness to her day.
And maybe, that is what these social media influencers really mean by mindfulness, that ubiquitous and highly sought-after remedy to the woes of the day-to-day. There is joy to be had in the every day, but conformity to one ideal of wellbeing is not realistic. Like Anne, maybe we should find the pleasure in smaller things, like making someone laugh or the vibrant color of a drink, or the passage in a book, or a walk in the evening.
These are not things to be forced, to be sought after with intention. Rather, the joy of these moments should come to us quite unintentionally, “like pearls slipping off a string.”