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It's easy to look forward to the big things in life. We have all experienced that feeling of anticipation as we prepare for a wedding, look forward to a job promotion or the annual family reunion.
The problem, however, is once they are over… we often suffer from a feeling of emptiness until the next big event approaches. While these things bring us happiness for a short time, they do very little to inspire a feeling of pure and lasting joy.
Happiness is a state that is very often dependent upon what is happening around you. It often requires a big event and it wanes once it’s over. Joy, on the other hand, is an internal feeling of satisfaction or contentment even in the midst of a bad time.
It is a feeling that, at least at that moment, there is good in the world. This feeling can be felt many times throughout the day, regardless of what is going on.
Why Is It Important to Enjoy the Little Things?
Medical studies have proven that people who can savor the little things in life often live longer. Their immune systems are stronger and their hearts are stronger. A lot of this is due to the reduction of emotional pain and stress.
Enjoying the little things gives us an appreciation for life in general. Without this appreciation for life, you feel an emptiness and always seem to be searching for some unidentified something that is lacking.
Many people who have reached an advanced age will state that it is the little things that have kept them going. These are people who have lived through wars, the Depression, and many personal tragedies.
Focusing on only the major things in life create a state of mind that keeps you always comparing your life to others. It also makes it seem like you are never good enough, will never succeed.
Yet, when you stop and consider the song of a bird that is heard over the raindrops, you realize that if someone so tiny can sing through a storm, you have a chance of experiencing happiness in the midst of your personal storms. That is the magic of noticing the message of the little things in life.
Identifying the Little Things
How can you recognize the little things that are worth noticing? Sit down with a pen and paper and start thinking about the things that never fail to make you smile. Think about the things that make you pause for a moment in the midst of your day. What makes you feel like you are doing exactly what you want to be doing?
As you start to think, the ideas will begin to flow and you may be surprised at just how many times during a day you have the chance to experience the joy. Let's explore some easy ways you can learn to start noticing the little things in life.
7 Ways to Enjoy the Little Things
1. Take a Walk
This works especially well if you can take a walk in nature. Notice the breeze around you. Let intuition guide you on your path. Don't have a destination in mind. Stop and talk with the dogs and cats you meet, watch children at a playground, and notice the leaves on the trees and the flowers.
Take time to watch a butterfly or bumblebee go about its day. If there are clouds in the sky, try to find pictures in them. If there are no clouds, admire the blue sky, it's a shade of blue that has yet been able to be reproduced exactly, even in photographs.
The exercise helps release endorphins that will lift your spirits… as you take time to notice how the most beautiful things in life go about their day, simply existing, and that is enough.
2. Explore With a Child
Children seem to always see the wonder that is around them. Life is an adventure and there is so much that is impressive. They can watch an ant hill for hours, find beauty in a rock, or feel exhilarated over jumping in a puddle.
Take a walk with a child. If you don't have one of your own, you probably have a friend or two who wouldn't mind a break!
Let the child lead the way. Notice what they find interesting. Listen as they talk and see how they view the world in such a different way than the adults in your life. They dream big!
The sound of a child laughing is often on the top of any list of the small pleasures in life. It is so pure and often makes us smile, or even laugh with them, even if we don't know why they are laughing.
Take notice of what interests the child so you can remember to look for the same things when you are out on your own.
3. Practice Gratitude
Keeping a gratitude journal will help you realize how many things you do have in your life to appreciate. It is easy to forget about things like a warm shower or the ability to relax in the backyard when you spend time worrying about tomorrow or next year.
When you spend time thinking about the person who cut you off in traffic, that piece of cheesecake may be eaten without thought of its delicious creamy texture.
Each night, take time to write down all the things you can think about that you are grateful for that day. Try to find at least two things each day that you didn't think about before. Maybe you managed to get through three green lights in a row. Maybe you noticed a bird's nest outside your office window.
Maybe a special treat that reminded you of a special childhood moment caught your attention at the grocery store. Write it down!
4. Create a Vision Board
We've talked about vision boards before, but this vision board doesn't serve the traditional purpose of looking toward the future. Find a large piece of poster board and start looking for pictures and words that describe things that make you smile.
Look for old photos that bring back memories that still make you happy. Use markers and draw pictures if you can't find a visual representation. The aim at this point isn't to fill the board.
Every time you experience joy from something small, find a way to post it on your vision board. Press a beautiful flower; include a picture of a rainbow or a photo you took of a squirrel playing.
Hang this board in a place where you can see it whenever you are feeling down or need a reminder that life is full of little pleasures that add up to a lot of happy moments.
5. Disconnect From Technology
We are so involved in technology, something that has never been an issue in the past. It may even seem impossible at times to function without our phones, a tablet, or computer within arm’s reach.
Go anywhere where people gather and notice how many people are talking, you won't find many. In fact, making eye contact and sharing a random smile with a stranger are almost unheard of these days.
By taking the time to put aside your electronics, you get a chance to see what is going on around you. Look how happy the children playing in the park sprinklers appear.
The smell of freshly cut grass, a squirrel scampering up a tree, or the elderly couple just sitting and taking it all in as they enjoy each other's company. All of these are bound to bring a lightening to your heart and a smile to your face.
6. Slow Down and Be Present
You've heard a lot about meditation and the art of mindfulness. That is because these things work. Not only do they help reduce stress levels and create a good sense of well-being, but they also help you become more aware of the little things in life. As you slow down, you notice things that don't normally enter your consciousness.
For example, pick up an apple. Take time to notice how red the peel is. As you take a bite, notice the tartness of the peel compared to the sweetness of the flesh. Notice the sensation on your tongue. When was the last time you actually thought an apple tasted so good?
You don't have to spend hours meditating to gain the benefits. Take five minutes to slowly breathe. Notice the tension in your body begin to ease. Any activity you do is an activity that allows you to slow down and experience it fully.
Over time, you will learn to take a few moments when you are in the midst of chaos to breathe and just feel the moment. You will find that afterward, it will be easier to deal with the situation from a place of greater calm. The bad may not seem so bad after all.
7. Grab a Camera
Everyone has access to some device that takes snapshots these days, but how often do you find yourself with a real camera in your hands, one that has a viewfinder? Digital cameras often give you a choice of viewing the scene on a screen or through a viewfinder.
Choose the viewfinder option. Why? You tend to see things differently when you are restricted to that small window and it allows you to hone in on things that may easily be missed when viewing with both eyes.
For example, you are at a wedding reception. Most people would be watching the bride, maybe paying attention to a disc jockey or talking with the bartender. Few would see the young father sitting in a corner alone except for his young daughter, who he is holding so she can dance on the table.
As you slowly pan the camera, however, you capture that tender scene and the looks on their faces. It is priceless moments like these that make one's day.
Final Thoughts on Tips to Enjoy the Little Things in Life
In a world that is so determined to make us feel that our lives aren't as good as they could be, unless we are experiencing big moments or great successes every time we do something, it becomes easy to feel depressed. It leaves a person feeling empty.
By being able to see the many wonders that are sprinkled throughout our lives like glitter, we can feel an inner peace that has eluded us for so long.
Life is meant to be enjoyed. So look for the shooting stars, the baby animals, and the complete joy of a child or animal at play. Allow them to show you that life is about living in the moment.
There are many ways to be happy with what you have now, without giving up on the big goals you have. The happier you are now, the easier it will be to keep going and reaching for those stars.