Being Thankful for Little ThingsMicah Robbins
The world is full of people who sabotage their own happiness by complaining when little things go wrong and taking for granted all the little things that go right. It’s wonderful to have something “big” to celebrate—a new job, an award, a full year of sobriety, an annual holiday—but such big victories don’t come along every week. And since most “big” good things are cumulative results of “small” good things, why not make every day a celebration by appreciating life’s little blessings?
BUILDING UP TO SOMETHING BIG
That promotion or degree you’re working toward may not come for another year, but there’s no rule against recognizing each step in that direction. Try one of these mini-celebrations when you complete a project, get a favorable review or just hear “I can always count on you”:
- Pat yourself on the back—literally. It may feel silly at first, but it really does boost your confidence.
- Look in the mirror and say to your own face, “You’re a pretty special person!”
- Take a half-day off to enjoy some fresh air or daydreaming time. (This will also re-energize your brain to work toward the next small success.)
- Hum or sing your favorite tune.
- Treat yourself to a piece of chocolate or a fresh-squeezed lemonade.
- Answer a compliment with “Thank you, you’ve made my day!” (That may make their day right back.)
“ORDINARY THINGS” AREN’T THAT ORDINARY
We’ve all heard that “every snowflake is unique”—but how often do we stop to individually appreciate any one snowflake? Or any one flower, breeze or sunset? No matter how “everyday” they seem, no fragment of beauty will ever perfectly replicate itself. Take time to appreciate one of these “fragments” for the wonder it is:
- Watch a sunrise or sunset until the last ray of color fades.
- Pluck a leaf and trace the veins with your finger.
- Stand still for five minutes, breathing fresh air slowly and deeply.
- Really look at a house sparrow foraging on the sidewalk. Follow its every move. Notice the fine lines and subtly varying colors in its plumage.
- Next time you pet your dog or cat, take time to feel the texture of its fur, and to notice the little sounds and gestures by which your pet expresses pleasure.
- If you want to see a good example of appreciation for nature’s small wonders, set aside a couple of hours to take a small child for a walk—and let yourself be drawn into the child’s pleasure in observing things you normally hustle past.
A WORLD OF MINDFULNESS
The word “mindful” has become so popular in recent years it’s in danger of devolving into a cliché. But genuine, deep mindfulness plays a vital role in making the most of life. Joy and gratitude increase when you use all your senses—the “inner” ones as well as the “big five”—to experience the world around and inside you.
- Stand outside on a breezy day. Listen to the sound of the wind: its pitch, its volume, the rustles it makes on contact with solid objects. Smell the aromas the wind carries to you. Feel the tickle of it ruffling your hair and clothes. Watch flags, clouds, leaves and loose objects responding to it.
- Look closely at shadows. How does their appearance change depending on the sun’s brightness, the objects they fall on, light coming from unexpected angles? Can you see “borders” around any shadows? Do any make double images? How much do they really resemble the objects casting them?
- Next time you walk a familiar route—even if just from your front door to your car—spot three things you must have passed every time but never actually noticed. (This includes small features such as the crack in a stone wall, or the mark left where the neighbors’ cat always rubs against their porch.)
- Count something you normally see in good numbers but hardly notice: the squirrels in the park, the flowers on a bush, the puddles on the sidewalk.
- Sit down and feel the texture of your chair. Notice the sensations it transmits to your body. Is it soft or firm? Cool or warm? Can you feel your body heat altering its temperature?
- Sit quietly and listen to your breathing and heartbeat. Consider the wonder of air swishing in and out of your lungs, of blood flowing through your body—of life’s energy circulating through the uniquely made you.