“My experience is what I agree to attend to,” pioneering psychologist William James declaimed in the final years of the 19thcentury as he considered how attention shapes human life. At the dawn of the following century, Hermann Hesse offered a similar advice on how to let joy be the portal to living with presence:
“My advice to the person suffering from lack of time and from apathy is this: Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys.”
His was a world without radio, television, or the Internet, before the trance of busyness and distractions that has become the governing law of our every waking hour. Yet, Hesse, in his more sedate age, saw the point sparing some quiet moments each day to savour the delights of small things make for a big emotional impact on our inner lives.
A lovely book to get started is Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, a poet, with illustrations by Madeline Kloepper. A modern-day nursery picture book, this little 40-page classic tells the story of a child and a grandfather whose walk around the neighborhood leads to a day of shared wonder as they discover all sorts of tiny, perfect things together. With rhythmic storytelling and intricate illustrations, this is a breezy book even adults can enjoy and learn something about how to rekindle a childlike curiosity and transform ordinary days into extraordinary ones.