The 1st Key to Happiness
Appreciate the Little Things in Life
You may have been told to appreciate the little things in life. But why should the little things matter? Aren’t the big things more important?
People spend their days worrying and thinking about the big things: acing that big test, getting that big paying job, going on that big date. They fail to notice the sweet little things that make life so special:
The bird that is warbling in the tree branch outside of your office window is a call to enjoy the prettiness of nature rather than the stress of work, yet you probably do not take the time to notice it because you just must get your proposal done for your demanding boss.
The smell of baked bread can awaken pleasant memories of your childhood visiting grandma, yet you are too busy thinking about what you will make for dinner instead of enjoying the nostalgic loveliness.”
“Life is full of small, beautiful things, but we often fail to notice them because we are so focused on the future. As a result, we feel worried and anxious.”
Life is full of small, beautiful things, but we often fail to notice them because we are so focused on the future. As a result, we feel worried and anxious. The world seems dark. Where did all the beauty go that we remember from our childhood?
The world is not completely dark and the beauty that you saw as a kid did not go anywhere. You have simply stopped seeing the world’s subtle beauty.
Noticing a million little things that make you feel joyful can sum up to one big joyful mood in your heart.
The little things really do matter.
So here is my “advice”:
Open your eyes, ears and all senses and notice and take in the little things in life. When you then appreciate the little things, you begin to appreciate all of life. You become happier. Throughout the day, you receive little tidbits of happiness to even out the stress and depression that your job and other worries may bring with them.
I found out the hard way how important the little things are. When I lost my profession and my husband in the same year, I thought that I would break. All I could focus on was the huge, intense loss that had blown a hole through my world. Life would never be the same, that much I knew. I felt that the world was mean and that I did not want to be a part of it anymore.
It can be hard to enjoy life after a severe loss, trauma, catastrophic event, or tragedy. It shows you that the worst that you can imagine is indeed possible.
After my own losses, I felt that I had little to live for. I fell into a deep depression.
I stayed alive only through hope, medications, and the sense that my teenage sons still needed me somewhat.
If you haven’t watched me tell my story, click HERE and watch it now.
Eventually, I made a decision. The decision to pursue happiness. To find a new meaning for life, to find true contentedness, inner peace and the joy and energy that only real passion can bring.
(And if you are ready to make this decision and like to talk about it with me, click here and put yourself in my calendar)
I still remember the day when, while I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, a nurse in the psychiatric inpatient unit where I was told me to start thinking of little things.
Little things that were positive. Happy memories like the time when I was walking as a young woman in the winter snow, quiet solitude surrounding me while big snowflakes fell on the branches of the trees I was going by and my face as I turned it to the heavens. I was pregnant with my first son then and pondered the wondrous transformation taking place in my body at that special time.
For just a second, as this memory came back alive, I did not feel sad for the duration of my memory, but a slight smile manifested in my face.
When I returned to focusing on my loss and grief, I was slightly less sad because I had had a chance to feel happy for at least just a moment.
This taught me to start appreciating the little things in life. Just a moment of happy observation or being absorbed in a happy memory could do wonders in lifting my mood.
” Just a moment of happy observation or being absorbed in a happy memory can do wonders in lifting your mood”
The little things in life gained a great importance to me from then on. And now, I am still frequently surprised at how blind others often are to the most special moments in life. People make the mistake of thinking that these little things are not important, but they truly are.
In this series of articles that will eventually become a book, I will present to you the keys to happiness, joy, contentedness and inner peace.
“The first key to true happiness is to appreciate the little things.”
The first key to true happiness is to appreciate the little things. The little things really do matter. A thousand little things add up into one big thing. So please appreciate the little things in life and let the brief moments of happiness that the little things give you lead to a great deal of happiness.
With this first article and the accompanying material, I hope to wake you up to noticing the little things in life, too, and feeling grateful for each of them.
I hope to reawaken your interest in life and your appreciation of it. I hope to help you find happiness in what you already have.
Experiencing just a few moments of happiness throughout the day is better than no happiness at all. Take a few moments to reflect on the beauty of the world around you, and you will begin to fall in love again - with your life and with life generally.
Ease Into Appreciation and Gratitude
Once you begin to develop the habit of appreciation or gratitude, it becomes easier and easier. It is really a better way to look at the world. Much better than ignoring the beauty in life to focus on the bad and the worries swirling your head.
All you need to do is making the conscious choice to appreciate the little things that you encounter throughout your journey on Earth.
Your appreciation will make you feel happier, contented and more fulfilled.
You will feel better, much more peaceful and calmer, and so will the people around you who have the privilege of experiencing your joy and serenity.
It becomes easier and easier over time to appreciate life, once you start getting out of the habit of negativity and dwelling on the bad.
And bad habits can be changed.
How do you get started?
1. Notice the little things around you
Start by taking the time to survey the world around you just once a day, for example set a calendar reminder or alert. This way you can begin the good habit of noticing things around you, appreciating some and eventually feel grateful for them. Over time, you will start loving life more and loving yourself.
You can do it. Anyone can do it. And everyone interested in their own mental and physical health needs to do it. But we often overlook things or take them for granted.
2. Appreciate the things you can appreciate easily
- Appreciate the looks on their children’s faces in the mornings
- Appreciate the sound of birds singing in the trees in the park.
- Appreciate the smell and taste of vegetables or a salad.
3. Appreciate even those things that are more difficult
- Appreciate the criticism of a co-worker
- Appreciate the rain that flooded your walkway
- Appreciate the wind that blew away your newspaper
4. Appreciate and be grateful for everything
This takes advanced skill and practice. Appreciate even things that feel “bad” or “hurtful” at the time.
- Be grateful for the challenges you overcame.
- Be grateful for the lessons hard times taught you
- Be grateful for the pain to come. Pain can be a sign that you are still alive.
Don’t take things for granted
Don’t think that the world will hold still for you while they take care of the next big project or concern. Don’t take the seeming security of your world for granted.
"Don’t take the seeming security of your world for granted."
If you take things for granted as they are now, likely there will come a day when a tragedy alters your world completely. A natural disaster, a death of a close family, a devastating disease that befalls you or a close loved one, or even the loss of a good job or career.
Or you wake up one day when getting older and realize that a lot of time has passed and you have missed out on so much.
People at the end of their life often wish that they had paid a little more attention to and appreciated the things and people around them more when there was still time.
"People at the end of their life often wish that they had paid a little more attention to and appreciated the things and people around them more when there was still time."
Some of the rising numbers of mental illness, especially of anxiety and depression, stem from this habit of ignoring the real world around us. As people fail to appreciate the beautiful little things in life, they give all their mental energy to trivial worries that seem so monumental at the time.
Usually they may devote this energy to work, because we all need money to survive. Unfortunately, the need for money can grow into the abandonment of life outside of work and of non-material things that have nothing to do with money.
"There is no happiness in money and in that cold world of worry and work that offers no play"
There is no happiness in money and in that cold world of worry and work that offers no play. It is a fake world, and a sorrowful one. No one can stay full of vitality and passion for life if they focus on and choose to live only in such a world.
“Depression and anxiety grow because people lose what is most important to them. They lose themselves, their purpose, their passion, the sense of who they really are and who they want to truly become.“
They stop really living, and they stop enjoying the real life around them. They become automatons, slaves to technology or to demands of others and they hate every minute that they are stuck in this rut.
All they can think about is the little fake world that they have created and that they can’t escape on their own, which offers none of the warmth of nature and family. These people do not realize that a simple choice, a readjustment in thinking can reawaken their spirits and their will to live.
I do not want to see you become really depressed and empty as you focus on a world that offers you nothing beyond the material. I do not want to see you wake up one day with the world as you know it gone, and your heart full of regret that you never once stopped and smelled the roses.
I am sure that you do not want those things for yourself, either.
Are you stuck? Need help?
If you find yourself stuck, please ask for help. Reach out to a friend, a loved one, your doctor, counselor, priest, or myself for help. You are not alone and there are people ready to help you get un-stuck and to start living your best life!
Just by reading this article and the materials that come with it, putting it into daily action and learning to appreciate the little things in life, you can become at least ten percent happier. But I’m sure that you will become even happier than that. You will renew your passion for life as you realize how much there is to live for.
Your gratitude and positivity will flourish, and there will be no more room for depression and boredom.
I suggest that you begin to treat every day as a new adventure. Imagine yourself as Indiana Jones or your favorite action hero, undertaking a new treasure hunt every day, the moment you wake up!
Instead of just hurrying to work or going about your normal routine feeling like you do not have time for anything special, go try that new coffee place, journal about gratitude, sniff the roses in the park, or stop to admire a scenic view. Instead of crashing in front of the TV with a beer after work, too exhausted to do anything, start that project that you have been putting off, play a new game with your kids, or try to cook a new kind of food that you have never attempted to cook before.
I guarantee that your energy will grow exponentially when you start to act this way, because you are not really physically tired after work, you are just drained of energy and uninspired.
Start trying new things and exploring yourself and the world around you. Have conversations with strangers and try new classes and new workout routines. The world offers a great deal to explore, and you may just find something you really enjoy doing.
There is no need to lie around, doing nothing but watch TV and play videogames all day and feeling trapped by your mental blockages, when the world is ripe for the picking right in front of your bedroom window.
But you don’t need to try anything new to start renewing your interest in life. Just take a moment to appreciate the activities you already do and the things you already have. This alone can restore your vigor and vitality.
You may find that your life is really quite full and wonderful, you have just gotten used to the routine and comfort of it and you have gotten into the habit to ignore it.
"You will be surprised when you look around and realize all the joyful, beautiful things that you do have that are there to make you happy."
Appreciation is important. You see the beauty in the world. You feel full of joy and gratitude, both wonderful feelings. Appreciating the little things helps you find happiness when it seems that there is none. You will never completely despair, for there is so much to love and live for.
You will start feeling so much better when you become more receptive to the beauty of the world. Even the little things will become special to you. You will be full of joy and happiness as you look around you, absorbing the preciousness of the world around you.
Hopefully, by now, you have regained somewhat of a childlike innocence and curiosity with which you view the world.
Instead of focusing on all the unimportant worries and cares of adulthood, you focus on the beautiful little things in life. You are able to let go of mundane cares and worries to let in some joy and a sense of freedom.
Right now, look up from your phone, or look away from the computer screen or the TV. Look around you, look in your loved ones’ faces or out of the window.
“Instead of drinking alcohol, drink in the world around you”.
There is so much out there to experience fully, to appreciate, to love.
As you begin to appreciate the little things, you will begin to feel more alive.
The dullness of depression will suddenly dissipate when you become aware of the worthiness and beauty of the world.
Your passion for life will become stronger.