Ever wonder how some people almost always seem happy, no matter what’s going on in their life? Even when life’s difficulties occur, they seem to have a grace and gratitude about life that many of us don’t understand. One of the reasons they can get through the tough times with such gratitude is because they’ve learned to enjoy the little things in life. And I believe that this is a key to happiness.
My birthday was this past weekend. And my youngest son, Noah, wanted to make me something “extra special” for my birthday. So, on Sunday morning he disappeared for a while and then reappeared with two origami birds (yes, the birds in the picture above). He was beaming when he gave them to me.
Did I want origami birds for my birthday? Of course not. Truth be told, I don’t think an art project of any sort was high on my list (I’ve been given enough to fill an entire house). Yet Noah’s origami birds are the best birthday present I’ve received to date. Because Noah made them especially for me with extreme care and love.
After Noah gave me my birds, I thought about how wonderful this present made me feel. Noah’s present made me happy – in the purest sense. It got me thinking about happiness. And what it means to be happy.
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Happiness often comes from the little things
I believe that happiness doesn’t come from wealth or material things. Happiness comes from the simple things – and our ability to see them for their purity and enjoy them fully. You’re likely nodding along and agreeing with me. But, let me ask you a question: do you live this way?
Most of us rely too much (and base our happiness) on wealth and material possessions – and feel lost without them. Which, when you think about it, is crazy. Because none of that brings us happiness. And we know it.
So, back to the happy people that I mentioned above. If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m one of those people. I’ve told you that I’m a glass is half-full kind of girl. It can annoy some people. But I don’t care. Because I’m happy. What does bug me is that they don’t find a way to be happy too.
My mom once told me that she wished she could see the world the way I see it and have the attitude I have about life. I wish for that too – for each of you. So, today I’m sharing with you how I enjoy the little things in life and hope that you can incorporate this into your life too. And live more happily.
Get outside and listen
Go outside and listen. Every single day – even if only for 5-10 minutes. You can sit outside while having your morning coffee, tea, or smoothie. Or you can go for a short walk around your neighborhood. If you find it difficult to get outside, open a window. Just be certain to take that time to listen to the sounds around you. And, if you live in a bustling city, that works too. Listen to the laughter and chatter of people around you. Gain energy from them.
This practice will help you open up to what’s around you and will help get you outside of yourself.
Stop rushing through life and looking forward to the next thing. When you constantly look to the future you forget about today. And how to enjoy it. So, think upon the here and now as much as you can.
You may need to remind yourself to do this at first. To get started, schedule time each day (at least 2-3 times a day) to stop and ask yourself what you’re noticing in the moment. If you have to, put it in your calendar and set an alarm.
When you stop to notice what’s going on, notice everything. Use all your senses. What do you hear, taste, feel, see? Take one minute to think upon them and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come to you.
This practice will help you center into your feelings and bring you a new awareness of the present. An awareness that’s necessary to notice the “little” things around you.
Schedule time with yourself
Schedule time to be alone with your thoughts at least once per day. You don’t need to spend a ton of time doing this. You can start with 5 or 10 minutes. And you can combine this with your outside time (assuming your outside time is relatively quiet and peaceful). Take these moments to be quiet and allow your thoughts to work their way to the surface.
You don’t have to set a strict schedule – so long as you do this each day. I vary the time of day that I do this. Sometimes I do this first thing in the morning, sometimes in the middle of the day when I need a break, and sometimes at night before going to bed.
Taking time for yourself will help you become more aware of any issues/problems that are circling within your head and to work through them. It allows you to clear the clutter from your brain and open you up to a heightened sense of awareness. And this will also help you to slow down. It’s a way to force yourself to slow down when you feel overwhelmed.
Be grateful for something every day
Each day write down (or say aloud) something that you’re grateful for. Without repeating anything. When you limit yourself to something new, you’ll start to see how many “little” things there are to be grateful for. Things that bring joy, peace, and happiness.
Doing the above will bring a new awareness to the beauty that’s around you each day. And awareness is key. It’s hard to be thankful for the little things if you never notice them. I promise you that, if you do the above, you’ll start to notice things that you were previously tuning out.
What little things should you be looking for?
You may be wondering what “little things” you should be looking for. The good news is you get to decide. It can be anything that you notice when taking the steps above. Anything that brings you joy or makes you see the beauty in the world.
A smile from a stranger. A cool breeze on a warm day. The beautiful song of a cardinal or a mockingbird. The sound of crickets outside. The feeling you get when your child holds your hand. Your child’s smile when he’s telling you something he’s excited about. The warmth from the sun on a bright day. A cat’s purr. The laughter of a stranger while you pass by them on a busy sidewalk.
I could go on forever. These are just a few examples. Again, you get to decide what “little things” you want to enjoy and take note of.
How to enjoy the little things
Once you start noticing the little things, how do you enjoy them fully? I find that the following works best:
- Identify what it is you’re keying in on.
- Ask yourself (and answer) what’s so beautiful about it.
- Identify the feelings ignited within you.
You’ve got to identify what it is that makes these little things so beautiful to you and allow yourself to feel the joy that they bring. Now, you may be thinking that this will take some work and effort. And, for this to become a habit, you do have to work a bit at it. But it only takes a few seconds to do in practice. And over time it will become second nature. It won’t be work – it will come naturally to you.
I want you to do something right now. Give yourself 5 minutes of quiet time. Be still. Breathe deeply and allow your thoughts to come to the surface. When you’re done, name something that you’re grateful for. It can be anything – the simplest things are the best. And, in the comments below, please tell me what it is that you’re grateful for today.
I’ll go first. I’m grateful for the way my son Zachary makes me feel when he leans into me and puts his head on my shoulder. He did this tonight when we were together (I obviously write these a bit before they get posted). He made me feel loved and cherished (and doesn’t even know it).
Now, it’s your turn.
Until next time…