One of the things I learnt when living in Japan was to be far more appreciative of the everyday stuff, to find the beauty in the unexpected. To really look around you, noticing the slightest changes to the seasons, what plants are growing, whether a particular flower has blossomed early or later than usual, whether that lady has switched to her autumn themed Kimono yet. Is the river more full than it was a couple of weeks ago. Have the winter crabs or summer shiso come into the market, have the bamboo grown too tall this year for there to be any young, sweet shoots still in the shop for my tempura? To generally look at things you might normally pass by or ignore and to, well, stop and sniff the roses - literally and metaphorically.
It's not a new concept (and it isn't owned by the Japanese!) but there have been times in my life when I didn't take the time to truly see what was surrounding me. I'm somewhat relieved to know is automatic now (well most of the time - we all have days when we are too inside our own heads). To involuntarily smile at the early morning glow that lights your path, to become giggly over the colours and textures in the raw vegetables you'd normally have thrown into a pot without a second thought, or to notice the sun on a patch of moss by the sea are simple, joyful moments that come for free and make me a happy girl.
When times are tough we sometimes need to look a little harder, to open our eyes wider. It can take a little more effort. Or a lot. But like working a muscle to give it more strength practicing the 'stop and notice' helps the natural reflex to return, which holds you steady, it allows you to be free. And to breathe. And to float.