The Butterfly Effect: making the most of each moment in life. Living with joie de vivre. Finding joy in the little often overlooked and seemingly inconsequential moments in each day and experiencing the cumulative effect over time it can have on yourself, others and the world.
Joie de Vivre
The French have a word for the energetic enjoyment of life, for a real taste for living, for having a zest for life that radiates and often infects others. It is ‘Joie de Vivre‘ or ‘Joy of Living’.
Throughout our journey I have been able to experience this delight, the joyful expression of life. Every day I catch myself smiling. A sense of ‘lightness’. Other days I feel my heart skip a beat as the smallest little observation touches me.
There have been moments that I think my heart will burst and I become teary. Not with tears of sadness but a deep joy welling inside that wants to escape in a trickle then a flood.
I hide it well from others, but sometimes I think I will be overwhelmed in a great flood of joy!
Today I felt this carefree abandonment as many of the group decided to take a dip in the River Aube, a clear running river along our journey. We stripped down to our underwear and shirts and swam in the cooling refreshing waters. At first we thought it wasn’t a good idea. After all we need to be cautious, we don’t want our feet to get all wet and possibly get blisters. Tim led the way, and before you knew it there were great big smiles on our faces as we frolicked.
Being Small Minded
Often the simplest thing can ‘set me off’. Yesterday sitting in the garden surrounded by beautiful buzzing tumbling bumble bees, hummingbird hawk moths darting from flower to flower, and butterflies fluttering their colouful magic I was in bursting bliss.
It took me back to childhood and spending a summer in Malta with my family and escaping into a vacant lot while everyone had their afternoon siesta. Sitting in the baking sun, I revelled in watching bumblebees and other insects sipping nectar and rolling in pollen laden flowers, the children of the sun. I felt like a sun king in his domain of thistles and other weeds while others slept off the heat of the afternoon.
Today as we walked along we passed numerous villages, all with their different architectural details and flowers! The French love flowers! Many houses are beautifully dressed with a panoply of joyful brilliance. Remove the flowers and France just isn’t France! I felt the French people’s ‘Joie de Vivre’ that is built into their psyche simply in their incredible love of flowers. Flowers are a joyous expression of living and the French know how to live! I felt a deep feeling of gratitude throughout the day simply being able to be walking through such beautiful humanscapes.
Tour de Joie
Throughout this journey I have felt this incredible sense of joy which comes in appreciating the little things. One such moment where I really got to understand the French’s incredible Joie de Vivre was seeing the national traveling roadshow of an institution come hurtling through the village of Colombey-les-Dexus-Eglises.
Seeing the Tour de France on television is one thing, but being amongst the roadside crowd was something else. As soon as we arrived at the village after our walk one could feel the electricity in the air.
The streets were lined with people in anticipated excitement. Before the main show of the cyclists hurtling past there was a cavalcade of sponsored speeding vehicles out of which attractive young men and women were throwing ‘freebies’ into the crowd. They were quite worthless little nicknacks and product samples but the crowd, both young and old were like all young excited children scrambling to catch them or pick them up quickly off the ground.
There was Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ blaring out of the speakers and the crowds were banging the barriers with great gusto in anticipation of the riders soon approaching. Beer, champagne and drinks were flowing and you soon forgot how hot it was just lost in the incredible atmosphere. I felt a comraderie with complete strangers as we all awaited as one for the arrival of these atheletes of endurance.
Saving Up Happiness
Some may say that this feeling is there because we are journeying. That this is a release mechanism. That people who holiday have a chance to unwind and release. Many people do save up their happiness for time when ‘they can be happy’. I find this particularly sad.
Just like many others I have sacrificed a lot in my life and worked really hard. Yet at the same time I have never totally lost sight of the importance of finding happiness in the present moment.
The Importance of Being Small Minded
In life it is very important to be small minded.
A strange thing to say one may argue. Yet if we focus on the small things in our life and find joy in them then these little things make for a big, rich and fulfilling life.
The new catchword of the past few years is mindfulness. It is about being present to whatever you are doing in any particular moment. To this I would add changing your perception to things that you are doing. Not always possible, but if you are doing a task that you don’t particularly like, if even sometimes you can change your attitude to that task and find something to ‘enjoy’ about it you may just have a reason to smile.
In order to change your perception it may require that you ‘turn a blind eye’ to what you don’t like about the task.
Sometimes we may be holding an exquisite diamond in our hand but alll we see is a lump of carbon.
Blindfulness can also be when we fail to see the joy that is possible right in front of us because we are bogged down with negative thoughts that steal us from the present, that gift right in front of us right now.
The Butterfly of Happiness
The butterfly of happiness is a fickle creature. She can flutter in and out of your life with her beautiful slender magically colourful wings spreading butterfly dust and then in a moment be gone again.
She is a very difficult creature to capture. No matter what net we use we can hold her for a moment but she has a way of slipping away.
The Magic of Happiness
Happiness is magical. It isn’t something you can hold. Yet it is something you can feel. It is something you can see in the smile of another. The laughter that can erupt from deep inside. The moment we wish would last forever and as soon as we have that thought, then like a dream she is gone.
In order to increase our chances of attracting and capturing happiness even for a moment longer we need to become adept at spotting the bitterflies that get caught in our ‘happynet’.
Bitterflies are those negative thoughts and feelings that keep us from experiencing the present moment. They can be thoughts of the past, worry about the future. They may be that little voice that tells us that we are fat or not good enough. They may be a voice from childhood.
Learn to recognise bitterflies and with great love release them from your happynet.
What you need to do if you want to experience more joy in your life is become a collector. Not one that accumulates material stuff. That stuff doesn’t make you happy but clouds your vision from seeing butterflies.
No, instead you need to become a collector of capturing butterflies in your net for a brief moment. Become a connoisseur of butterfly moments. Learn to discern the different species of joy, their behaviour.
The Butterfly Experiment
One way I learned to become a butterfly collector was learn to recognise a butterfly in each day. You may say that butterflies of happiness are rare. I say the contrary. They are very common. The colours and shapes are superbly varied, yet if you practice the following experiment you will be able to capture more butterflies on a daily basis.
Middle Age Chrysalis
When I was about to turn thirty nine I began to feel my mortality. I began to notice subtle changes in my body, you know, the usual stuff, like a tyre beginning to form around my waist and not wanting to stay out late. I also tried thinking back over the past decade and it scared me as all I could see was one big blur. A blur of rushing through life like seeing a cyclist whizzing past at high speed.
I decided that for a year I would capture at least one butterfly each day. So for three hundred and sixty five days I forced myself daily to stop even for a couple of seconds, long enough to take a photograph on my smart phone of something that caught my eye.
This stopping for a moment pulled me out of my head so that I could be present. Most of us are absent. The lights are on but nobody is home. In fact they have packed up and are living somewhere ten years in the future when they have a beautiful home right now.
This is the Butterfly Experiment – I do hope that you do commit to it and see what an incredible difference it can make in your life.
Heart Is Where The Home Is
That home is the gift of the present. That home is your heart. When you come home to your heart, when you learn to be present to the beauty of the present moment then magic happens.
You begin to lose your mind, and begin to see with your heart. You begin to lose yourself in the moment. You become absent minded yet deeply passionate and invested in the present.
Become A Butterfly Collector
Become a collector of moments of joy in each day. Learn to recognise the little things, they are there in every day, those seemingly insignificant things that with the right attitude can be magical butterflies.
Your Butterfly Collection
Collectors often have their collections on display. This in itself continues to give them joy long after the butterfly moment has been captured. In fact, remembering where you were when you had the butterfly in your happynet can bring back the feelings you experienced at the time.
One way to have your butterfly near catches on display is to keep a happiness diary. A happiness diary is a powerful tool to keep your energy positive.
Be A Feeder Flower
While I sat two days ago in the beautiful garden in the hotel we stayed at I started thinking that I had never seen so many butterflies and insects around garden flowers in my life. The hotel owners were very savvy. They understand that running a good hotel is not just about clean sheets and quality service. It is the little things. The intangibles you could say that create a feeling.
The Butterfly Garden
The ‘butterfly garden’ was one of these. They had planted particular flowers that attracted butterflies and other insects. These flowers were continually being visited by butterflies. In fact, the butterfly you see above allowed me to get close and personal for over twenty minutes on one bush as it lapped up the sunshine goodness that the flowers provided.
By focusing on the little things in your life on a daily basis you too can be a feeder flower. Flowers radiate sunshine and joy. They make us ‘feel happy’. Your passion and lust for life radiating from your heart can attract a countless flock of butterflies as your happiness attracts more of the same.
Utterflies are your expressions of joy that you acknowledge and often share with others. They are the smiles, the gratitude you express, the laughter. This only makes you even more of a butterfly magnet.
Equally, mutterflies can deter butterflies of happiness. Mutterflies are the negative language we habitually use. For instance if someone asks you how you are do you say ‘not bad’, ‘yeah…ok’ or do you say ‘awesome’?. Are you always complaining about the bad things or do you speak about the positive things in your life?
Butterflies are particularly sensitive to the energy of mutterflies. Butterflies keep away from them as they eat butterflies.
The Butterfly Effect
Have you ever gone to a party that wasn’t quite ‘happening’. Then someone walks into the party. Immediately you recognise their energy. They are bubbly, vibrant, full of life and all of a sudden the party comes to life?
This is the butterfly effect happening on a localised level.
When you begin to live your life with greater joy, with Joie de Vivre, the flutters of happiness can change your immediate world and the world at large. The tiny flutter can create a tornado of happiness.
Be the change you want to see in the world simply through living a life with passion and joy. Share your happiness freely. Be the flower that people see and want to be near so that some of the butterflies of happiness may land momentarily on them too.
Happiness Weather Warning:
Butterflies are slippery creatures. No matter how hard you try to capture a butterfly of happiness in your happynet it will escape. They aren’t called ‘butter’ flies for nothing.
The magic is in seeing this creature for a moment and the joy it brings to you. Trying to hold onto or possessing this free spirited creature will only bring downpours of sadness and despair. Like magic they will disappear from your net.
Learn to share the sunshine from within your flowering heart with others. This is a lesson for me to learn too as I have found it hard to express my joy with others at times.
In this sharing you may dance with the butterfly of happiness and change your whole life and the whole world one beautiful magical exuberant moment at a time.