Dennis Prager wrote a book on happiness years ago and still speaks about the subject on his nationally syndicated radio program. One of his thoughts recently came to mind:
In general, it is not the really big things that tend to make us happy. It is the small things.
I got up early this morning after having completed a lot of work last night. I could see a beautiful sunrise. There is a slight threat of rain so the paper deliverer had carefully double-wrapped my newspapers; an act which in itself pleased me. A series of small items that brought additional pleasure could be listed but the key part is noticing them. The expression "being in the moment" advises us that looking back or too far ahead can rob us of the pleasure of now, even if that pleasure consists of being able to take a deep breath, stretch, sip some coffee, and plan our day.
In my experience, Prager's point about the really big things is correct. That rush of happiness can go far more quickly than one would have anticipated when the moment and its pleasures were contemplated from a distance. Too often, many of us add "What's next?" and mentally start in on a new project instead of taking the time to appreciate the achievement of the old.
When it comes to happiness, a good cup of coffee - if given appropriate notice - may provide far more pleasure than a major achievement that is hurriedly set aside. We certainly have the opportunity for much more happiness by appreciating the small things. If only large achievements and events bring happiness, we are in trouble for most of life is in the periods in-between.