something or someone that gives great happiness
to give someone great happiness
I have recently come into possession of a charming book by the poet Ross Gay entitled The Book of Delights, in which the author has presented a collection of short essays, each one about a small thing that caused him to feel delighted.
I have chosen this word because I think we are at a time when we are all especially in need of a little delight in our lives. These are turbulent days, rife with uncertainty and threats. The news seems to always be bad and some days it’s hard to think about feeling delighted when we are busy shelling out whole paychecks for food and gas and hearing endless reports of violence and injustice.
But the challenging times are precisely why we need to make an effort to find delights. Ross Gay finds delight in the smallest of things: two people carrying a heavy bag together by each gripping one handle; an aspiring-actor doorman offering a Shakespearean greeting; the trustingness of people on trains who leave their belongings on their seats while they roam cars; the marvel that hickory trees take about 200 years to bear fruit.
I keep this book by my reading chair and flip through it when I need a lift. And I have started accumulating my own collection of delights. I am delighted when I see a car on the road with a dog’s head sticking out the window. I am delighted when I catch a favorite song on the radio right at the beginning. I am delighted when I smell hot, fresh baked goods. I am delighted when I read the first page of a new book and find that I love it. I am delighted when I find that my cat has made a sleeping nest in a new and curious spot.
It doesn’t take a lot to feel delighted once we create some awareness of what delights us. It may only be fleeting, but it changes the tenor of the day and chips away at the call of despair.
To take it a step further, the Buddhist principle of mudita is defined as sympathetic or vicarious joy, or the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being. How often do we do this? Really feel happy about someone else’s happiness? I don’t mean expressing happiness, I mean actually feeing it. Our instincts don’t always take us there right away (yes, you know that is true — don’t fret, it’s human), but if we try it’s easy and it feels great and rewards us with a nourished soul.
And to kick it up one more notch (as Emeril says, rather delightfully), how about going out of our way to delight someone else? Bring someone a flower, or a cookie, for no particular reason. You know what delights your friends and loved ones. Their delight will be yours.
It doesn’t sound particularly delightful that we should have to work at finding delight in the world. But it’s there for the taking, and the giving.
Wishing you all many delights as we close out the summer on this beautiful and delightful peninsula we call home.
Share your delights with us! We’d love to hear from you – email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.