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What is the value of taking time each day for simple pleasures? What is the practical value of investing in small daily moments of joy?

In her book How Philosophy Can Save Your Life, Marietta McCarty suggests that these are more than just frivolous “extras” on the menu of life:

“Simple pleasures feed our essential selves: listening to music, being outdoors, seeing a loved face at the door, laughing all the way, knowing we did our best work…Such soul food has been at our fingertips all along…Simplicity is living close to the marrow of life…There is something oddly grand about the prospect of living life at its juicy core.”

She’s reminding us to invest in these kinds of small experiences because they give us a taste of “living life at its juicy core.” (What a remarkable phrase!)

I’ve started listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy each morning when I wake up. And I love the words of the hymn to the same tune, Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee–a stunning celebration of the pure joy of living, the “triumph song of life.” Sets a joyful tone for the day.

But of course, there are some days when joy seems as far away as poor, demoted ex-planet Pluto. What do we do on days when the stress level is in the red zone…or a dirty look or unkind word or dark headline puts us in a deep hole…or when we just feel drained?

What do we do when life’s about as juicy as a skunk flattened by a semi on an asphalt highway in Death Valley at high noon? (At least we found a bit of humor in our situation!)

Maybe we need to lower the joy bar. Tomorrow when you wake up, go to the mirror, take a deep breath, and fog the whole mirror. Then take your finger and write: “You can still fog a mirror, congratulations!” (No matter what happens during the day, you’ll at least have that accomplishment to fall back on!)

Then wipe off the fog, look at yourself and smile. You’re still here! Still alive! And still the only “you” there is in this world or ever has been or ever will be.

Life’s juicy, joyful core.  It’s a grand prospect, indeed! And the more problems and stress we have, the more we need to look for it…invest in it…remind ourselves of it…and taste it!

As McCarty says, it’s never far away. It’s “at our fingertips” all the time. But we have to  go for it.