The Little Things

“Sometimes the most happy people in life are the ones with nothing. We can’t lose sight of the little things in life that should make us the happiest.” – Ryan Cabrera

A radiant sunrise. My niece’s laugh. A delicious piece of dark chocolate.  A breath-taking view.  My cat pouncing on his little crinkle ball.  Time spent with good friends and family.  A brilliant starry night.  A beautiful bouquet of flowers.  Getting to sleep in on the weekend.  Curling up with a good book and a cup of hot tea.  Wearing warm fuzzy pjs on a chilly evening.  The list goes on….the little things that bring me great joy.  Mmm…makes me smile just thinking about them all.  There is certainly something to be said for the point Ryan Cabrera makes – most of the happiest people I know are the ones who appreciate the little things every day.

Whether you are prone to gratitude journals or some other regular gratitude practice or not, keeping the little things that bring you joy in the forefront of your daily life has an unmistakable effect on how you view life, interact with others, and respond to events as they occur. Conversely, some of the most unhappy souls I know are the ones who only see the negative things that happen in their daily lives…they somehow miss all the wonderful little things surrounding them that could bring them bits of happiness if only they would pause to pay them some notice.

It is true that on any given day or in any given moment we can all become a little negative. The difference is how long we stay in that negative mindset and how we let it impact us overall. If we can find ways to remember the little things that bring us joy then we can step away from that negative place and move back into a state of happiness.  It may not always be easy, but it is most certainly worth working towards.  And there are some simple things you can do to bounce back when you feel a negative streak (aka bad mood) coming on:

  1. Decide in advance on one thing that brings you absolute joy. It could be your children, your favorite place to visit, or a family heirloom piece…any person, place or thing that brings you undeniable joy will do. Then, when you find yourself in a negative space, take a deep breath and focus your thoughts on that one thing.  Maybe you even carry a photo of that thing with you so you can quickly and easily pull it out to look at.  Or maybe you have a little sticky note with your favorite thing written on it.  Regardless, when you are feeling negative, spend a few moments thinking about all the ways in which that thing makes you happy.  Before you know it you will have a smile on your face and a better perspective on that other thing that was upsetting you just a few moments before.
  2. If you are someone who keeps a gratitude journal, pull it out and read through some of it. I have found that reviewing the things you feel grateful for brings forth a sense of joy and happiness that can overshadow that negative funk you had been immersed in previously. I find that this practice also helps give you the proper perspective on whatever caused you to feel negative in the first place.
  3. A third technique for changing your mood, mindset, or perspective is to stop where you are in the moment you are feeling overwhelmingly unhappy or negative and make a list (mentally, verbally, or on paper…doesn’t matter) of the things that are going well in your life, the things that make you happy, and/or the things you are grateful for. It won’t take long before you will feel transformed from that negative space to one of joy.
  4. The final idea I will share is actually a preventative measure I recently picked up from my own life coach. As things happen in your life that bring you happiness or for which you are grateful, pause and say “thank you…more please.” It may sound a little funny when you read it here, but it is a way of expressing gratitude and letting the universe know you welcome more of that thing into your life.  This simple practice can help you change your perspective on life over time such that you find yourself getting into those negative spaces less and less often and that you stay in those places for less time when you do go there.  Actively being thankful on a regular basis radically transforms your mindset and perspective on life so when the “bad” things happen they don’t have the same impact on us as they once did.

No matter what technique you use, the point is to not let those handful of negative things in life dictate who you are and how you will present yourself to the world. Just remember all those little things that bring you joy and happiness…all the things in life that you have to be thankful for…and allow that feeling to be what others see and experience when they are in your presence.