When you are feeling lost, don’t lose sight of what is important. Appreciating the little things can shift your perspective. Even if they are as little as butterflies.

Faceplant? If you are feeling lost in life, don’t get so discouraged that you shove your head into food and pig out like this white checkered butterfly in the video.

He’s just appreciating the little things in his life. Read on, my friend. 

On the outside, I’m that person that looks calm and peaceful. But, inside, I’m an analytical person who continuously evaluates, almost like a computer pinging a network every few seconds. And sometimes, based on what the conversation is in my head, I’d like to tell myself to shut up. I was having one of those times, you know, feeling lost in life.

I felt a tinge of sadness. We were supposed to be in northern California photographing fall colors. Instead, a smoke plume covered the area we were supposed to be exploring.

If you’ve not seen the online map of how the wildfires affect the air quality, there is a fantastic website that shows where smoke is drifting across the country:  fire.airnow.gov. I wish we didn’t need a map like that, but alas, it is helpful.

Unfortunately, the map showed us that the visibility was compromised. We canceled the trip.

Canceling plans has become almost routine. But, of course, we’ve all leaned into being flexible in the last two years, so that in itself wasn’t the complete answer to why I was feeling lost.

With the trip canceled and still in 90-plus degree heat while pumpkins are sitting in piles at grocery stores, I was looking with envy at fall colors posted on Facebook and Instagram. There’s the tinge of jealousy, the fear of missing out and comparing our past trips with the amazing sunsets, sunrises, and dramatic skies we saw others capturing in their posts this year.

Comparing, jealousy, fear of missing out are quick trips to feeling down and out. But I knew I could and should work at a shift in perspective.

It’s easy to lose sight of what is important in life. The bad news is always there for the finding. But I have a choice whether I stew in it or not. I just needed to take one simple step: find some day-to-day gifts that I let go unnoticed.

Appreciating the little things in life.

Appreciating the little things in life is what brings me happiness. Or actually, let me re-phrase that. Appreciating the little things in life and nature makes me feel alive. I feel a greater interest when I’m actively engaged. Borrowing from a great abstract artist:

“I think it’s so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary–you’re happy for an instant, and then you start thinking again. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.”

 

–Georgia O’Keeffe

In the continuum of life, happiness sits on one end of the teeter-totter. We’d be out of balance if we only knew happiness. Having an interest is what keeps me going. My thoughts are always there, so I’ll be better off if I keep them moving towards one of my interests instead of being left to their own devices. Quite honestly, if you think of how much the social networks and media are playing with us, I’m not sure it is my own devices managing my mood. So it’s doubly important to observe my thoughts.

As I looked out into the backyard, I kept seeing something flying around the milkweed we planted. So I walked closer, and sure enough, we had a Monarch butterfly playfully dancing around the three milkweed plants and some lantana bushes. So I ran inside, put a long lens on my camera, and hoped he wouldn’t have flown away by the time I came back.

And he had.

But I decided to be patient. I grabbed a chair, positioned it near the milkweed and flowering lantana, and started observing. Just being outside felt good, even if it was a bit warm. Butterflies like it warm, and there were lots of smaller butterflies to follow and focus on. They landed nearby while I practiced being reasonably still and out of the way.

A shift in perspective.

Just the mere act of appreciating nature calmed my mind. Seeing the complexity in these small creatures makes you feel awe-inspired. When you see the colors and patterns, you can’t help but shift your attention away from yourself and see something greater at work.

Instead of feeling that tug of trying to achieve something, I was practicing a journey orientation, a moment of just enjoying being. I wanted to see more of what these butterflies looked like, and I had the tool to bring them closer without disturbing their important pollinating work.

The bulk of life is filled with small moments. Focusing on being grateful for what was gracing this moment instead of what I perceived I lacked made a difference in my overall mood. After some time, I was rewarded with a return visit by the Monarch as well. But by not expecting the Monarch, I was rewarded with appreciating the beauty in all of the butterflies I saw. I hope these photos spark your curiosity and appreciation of the little things in life. And if you are feeling a little lost yourself, that you go out into nature to find something to shift your perspective.

 

“Notice the small things. The rewards are inversely proportional.”

– Liz Vassey

Isn’t it interesting to realize that what I needed was a transformation? And then I received a nod and wink from nature’s best transformation symbol, the butterfly.

What helps you shift your focus? Let me know below. Connection to community is an important one. And I’d like for us to be a community. Wink, wink.

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