Being aware is a key to happiness

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"My but I love the feel of this soap," I said to myself as I washed my hands in a local restaurant powder room. The soap was liquid coming from a dispenser on the restroom wall. It had a wonderful smooth slippery quality, almost like satin.

As I stood in front of the vanity and relished the feel of the soap, I couldn't believe I was just then noting how luxurious washing your hands can be. I felt regret at what I had missed recognizing earlier. Now, however, many establishments have changed their liquid soap dispensers to that of a foam cleanser. What a loss!

Then I read a paragraph in a book concerning the value of being aware. It talked about the fact that "awareness is truly happiness." I decided to begin observing the seemingly little things I do every day that can add to my already happy attitude. Those apparent insignificant actions became foremost in maintaining a joyful perspective.

I accompanied my husband and a young relative, Anthony, on an exciting expedition to a local shooting range recently. The young boy, especially, was excited about the adventure. I took a small snack along so we could pretend we were on a fall picnic as well, even though it was three o'clock in the afternoon. I was trying to realize how much fun we could have on a simple outing.

My husband gathered up his rifle and pistol shells and arranged them neatly in a rectangular green ammunition box along with a pistol and two rifles. He was as thrilled as Anthony, particularly, since I had suggested the excursion. Anthony was beside himself because he loved target shooting. He looked forward to trying his brand-new ear plugs and his new shooting glasses. He was all set for safety as well as fun.

Now you would never expect to hear about the awe I felt as we neared the range. Shooting fails to excite me, so consequently I had never been to a real target shooting range. I was struck by the cleanliness and orderliness of the facility. It was complete with concrete pads and shooting benches. Sidewalks led to the various targets so people could check their aiming accuracy.

I was amazed at the courtesy and observance of safety precautions that the shooters exhibited. I was truly enamored at the whole setup of the range. A berm sat behind the target boards, and trees and hills bordered the site. Although sounds of shots rang and echoed, there was still an unexplainable peace and serenity among the participants and the rugged wild atmosphere. "Gosh," I thought, "What a great experience!"

Most of the shooters apparently practiced for competitions and to hunt, not for purposes of vice. Skeet and bow shooting ranges were available as well. I was glad I was finally beginning to see the beauty and orderliness of seemingly dull and harsh activities.

As my husband and Anthony continued in their pursuit toward accuracy, l decided to take a walk up the nearby gravel road that led to the range. Birds sang and the scenery was extraordinary. I forced myself to relax and take it all in, despite the many chores I needed to be doing at home.

Right at the end of the gravel road, I ran directly into a beautiful field, all grassy and green. It was filled with cattle grazing who were unconcerned with anything going on in our world. However, they looked at me as if to say, "Woman, what are you doing here? How dare you intrude upon our refuge." But they were friendly. I was pleased that I was becoming more aware.

God made all things good, but you must decide to observe and appreciate what's present within your experiences and environment. Indeed there's wonder and worthiness in all you encounter.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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