How to value the small things

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Are you guilty of ‘I’ll be happy when…’ thinking? New research shows it’s not the big events that fulfil us but the small pleasures, says Martha Roberts

Cultivate a philosophy of appreciation
When was the last time you were thrilled over something as simple as blowing bubbles? Cultivating a philosophy of appreciation is about seeing opportunities in the seemingly insignificant, and reframing them as important to your wellbeing.

Understand that life is made up of ‘moments’
These are just as vital as conventional units of time. When you review your day ahead and think, ‘Meeting at 1pm’, also say, ‘Moments matter’, then make a pact with yourself to notice the sun break through the clouds, or the wind move through the trees.

Write a list of daily ‘joys’
At the end of the day, create a list of things that stood out for you in a ‘small pleasures’ book. If you’ve had a tough day, you may have to work hard to find a positive moment. Even if it’s, ‘Drank the perfect coffee’, that’s something to find joy in.

“Rather it is the small, and often unexpected, pleasures in life that can make us smile each and every day to help us build happier and more meaningful lives for ourselves and for others.”

Check out 40 little things in daily life that bring us true happiness.

1. Finding money in your pocket that you didn’t know you had.

2. Being asked by someone who cares how you are doing.

3. Climbing into bed when you have fresh sheets.

4. Taking an extra-long bath or shower when you have some free time.

5. Smiling at a child you see in public.

6. Receiving a 10 minute massage from your partner or friend.

7. Cuddling someone before you have to get up and start your day.

8. Waking up and realizing it is a sunny, beautiful day.

9. Having a long phone conversation with someone you care about and haven’t spoken to in a while.

10. Watching the rain fall when you have nowhere to be, and you can curl up on the sofa.

11. Watching children playing and laughing together, reminding you of the joy in the world.

12. Spending some time with your pets – or animals in general!

13. A stranger giving you a genuine smile.

14. Having a nice, long stretch when you first wake up to get your body moving.

15. Laughing out loud at a funny memory.

16. A gesture of kindness from someone in your life – as simple as your child helping you cook dinner.

17. A smell you love, from baked bread to a freshly mowed lawn.

18. A meaningful, long hug from somebody you care about.

19. Putting on clothes after they have been warmed on the radiator.

20. Taking a few moments alone when things get hectic.

21. Watching the sunset or the sunrise.

22. The smell outside after the rain has stopped.

23. Listening to your favorite artist or album.

24. Receiving an email or a letter from a friend.

25. The chance to be creative, from painting an old set of drawers to doodling a picture.

26. Holding hands with someone you love.

27. Eating your breakfast in bed.

28. Playing a game you used to love when you were younger.

29. Eating healthy, tasty food that makes you feel good about yourself.

30. An extra half an hour to snooze in bed.

31. Having some time to yourself to read a book you love.

32. Buying your favorite drink or snack and savoring it.

33. Receiving flowers from someone who cares about you.

34. Eating your lunch outside in the sun.

35. Trying out a new recipe and creating something delicious.

36. A gesture of support from your friends or family.

37. Listening to a song you used to love and haven’t heard in years.

38. Taking the time to help someone with their problems.

39. Spending time in your home when it is tidy and clean.

40. Achieving a small victory, like fixing the washing machine or replacing a light bulb.

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