Breathing Space November 2023
The Surprising Power of Small Joys
I have trained myself to truly stop—just a moment—and take in small moments of joy. For example, with the advent of colder weather, my young dog has occasional moments of what my family calls the zoomies, when she is just thrilled with the feeling of the cold in the air and races around the backyard in circles, at breakneck speed. It is the perfect picture of delight! (Don’t try this at home; I pulled a hamstring trying to see what it felt like to her.)
In our fast-paced and often stressful lives, it’s easy to overlook the simple pleasures that surround us every day. We become so focused on getting things done or, even worse, chasing big achievements and significant milestones that we often forget to appreciate the small joys that pepper our daily routines. However, taking the time to notice and savor these little moments can have a profound impact on our overall well-being and happiness.
First and foremost, paying attention to small joys enhances our ability to live in the present moment (this is the definition of mindfulness!). In our busy lives, we tend to dwell on past regrets or worry about future uncertainties, leaving little room for us to fully immerse ourselves in the here and now. When we actively seek out and appreciate small joys, whether it’s the warmth of a morning cup of chai, the sound of birdsong, or the feel of a gentle fall breeze on our skin, we are drawn back to the present. This practice of mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mental clarity, and promote a greater sense of inner peace.
Noticing small joys also helps us cultivate gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion that has been linked to numerous physical and psychological benefits, including improved mood, stronger relationships, and enhanced overall well-being. When we take a moment to appreciate the little things that bring us joy, we become more aware of the abundance in our lives. This shift in perspective encourages us to focus on what we have rather than what we lack, fostering a deeper sense of contentment and fulfillment. Gratitude is serious medicine.
Furthermore, acknowledging small joys fosters a positive mindset. When we make a habit of seeking out and celebrating these moments, we train our brains to look for the good in every situation. This positivity can have a ripple effect on our interactions with others, as we become more pleasant and uplifting to be around. It can also boost our resilience in the face of challenges, as we are better equipped to find silver linings even in difficult times.
Small joys also have the power to strengthen our relationships. When we share our appreciation for these moments with loved ones, it deepens our connections and creates shared experiences that enhance our bonds. Whether it’s watching a beautiful sunset together, enjoying a delicious meal, or laughing at a funny moment, these small joys can become cherished memories that strengthen the fabric of our relationships.
In addition to these emotional and psychological benefits, noticing small joys can have a positive impact on our physical health. Studies have shown that a positive outlook and reduced stress can lead to lower blood pressure, improved immune function, and a decreased risk of chronic diseases. By incorporating the habit of seeking small joys into our daily lives, we can contribute to our overall well-being in a meaningful way.
So, there are solid reasons to look for small moments of joy. How many can you notice in a single day? How might you make some small joy into a ritual that you practice daily (drinking that warm, smooth cup of coffee on the patio each morning as you listen to the birds wake up…)?
Let me know you are reading these little nuggets by sending me an email at email@example.com with an example of your particular small moment of joy!