6 Ways to Enjoy the Little Things in Life + Why You Should Appreciate Them
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I have a sign hanging in my house that says “Enjoy the little things in life, for someday you’ll realize they were the big things.” But it’s not always easy to do.
Our busy lives encourage us to do more, expect more, achieve more, be more. We hold the bar high for ourselves and mark success in our lives by hitting targets and deadlines and achieving goals.
But sometimes trying to live up to our crazy-high expectations means that we’re moving through this life with our heads down, only focused on the next thing – the next raise, the next goal, the next bedtime.
Occasionally we stop to put out fires – tantrums, fights, and things that grab our attention – but I, for one, am often guilty of missing (or just plain ignoring) the little things that make life sweet.
Appreciating the little things in life means focusing on what brings us joy and happiness. It means being grateful for those everyday moments that are too easy to take for granted.
Because it’s those little things that we often end up cherishing the most – IF we stop to appreciate them.
It’s not easy to reprogram your thinking patterns so that you can begin to appreciate the lovely moments of every day. But, in my opinion, it’s the first step to finding true joy in the life that you have.
Why It’s Important to Enjoy the Little Things
There’s a very simple reason why we need to focus on enjoyment of the little things – it’s because they make up the vast majority of our lives.
Significant events happen sporadically, maybe even rarely – think parties, weddings, graduations… Small ones happen every day, every hour, every minute.
When you ignore the little things, you miss out on finding joy in MOST of your life. Seems crazy, right?
Always striving for and looking forward to the next big thing can leave you feeling unsatisfied and unhappy. That constant push to do the next thing or get further ahead takes you away from the joy and gratitude of your present life. This type of go-go-go mentality takes the focus from what you have and puts it on what you lack.
Putting your focus back on the everyday moments in your life can even improve your health. The positive emotions that come with paying attention to the little things in life can improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your immune system, increase your longevity, and reduce stress – among other things.
The ability to appreciate the little things can up-level your life in a big way.
How to Enjoy the Little Things
#1 – Be Present
If you’re always focusing on the past or the future, it’s easy to ignore and miss things like the happily chirping birds or the smell of the backyard after it rains.
You can’t always stop the thoughts that come into your head, but you can stop them once they’re there and refocus your mind on the here and now.
Little things are easily missed, so the first step in enjoying them is to create the space in your life to be present.
#2 – Slow Down
You can’t appreciate the little things if you’re too busy, too tired, or too stressed to notice them. And the best way to start noticing them is to slow down your pace and be intentional about noticing what’s going on around you.
I know it feels like you don’t have time to slow down, what with all the demands of motherhood. But try to carve out 15 minutes each day to sit and reflect.
Stop gulping down your caffeine in the morning while you get everyone ready for school. Instead, wake up a few minutes early and savor your coffee or tea while you soak in the peace and quiet of the early morning.
Instead of eating leftover chicken nuggets off your child’s plate while doing the lunch dishes, prepare a grown-up lunch, sit at the table for 5 minutes, and enjoy your food.
Rather than using naptime to frantically catch up on housework, take the first 30 minutes to do something for you – read a book or do a craft.
Take steps to slow down, do one thing at a time, and carve out some peacefulness and you-time during a busy day.
#3 – Stop Chasing
I’ll be happy when… Everything will be better when… My life will slow down when…
When you’re always on the chase, the goalposts never stop moving.
Stop chasing what you think will make you feel successful, happy, or appreciative of what you have. Don’t make your life to be all about the next big thing.
Instead, start searching for things that feel comforting and calming – small things that make you smile.
If you want to be able to enjoy the little things, you have to find that happiness right here, right now.
#4 – Reframe
The small things are, well… Small. In order to see them, you need to open yourself up to finding them, and you may need to actively search for them.
You might need to reframe some negatives into positives. How you actively think about things can change how you feel about them.
The other day, I found a large (to me) snakeskin in my vegetable garden. I hate snakes. SO much. But I did some research, and it turns out that garter snakes eat a ton of different garden pests – slugs, squash bugs, mice… So I’m able to focus on the benefits of having Mr. Snake living in my garden and learning to appreciate him. Although you’ll never again catch me in there with my flip-flops on – it’s rubber boots every time for me now 🙂
Anyway, the moral of the story is that sometimes you have to take a negative thing and flip it around in your mind to make it positive.
#5 – Avoid Comparison
When you’re comparing yourself to others, you’re taking the focus off of you and putting it on someone who, quite frankly, probably doesn’t deserve it.
Social media makes comparison almost unavoidable. Other moms are showing off their beautifully dressed (and clean) kids, impeccably decorated homes, and impossibly toned bodies, which can make a girl feel like an utter failure.
It can be a good thing to find inspiration from people in the online world, but when it starts affecting your ability to feel satisfied within your own life, it’s time to let it go.
Remember that social media isn’t always real, and that there’s no mom in this world who has it all together all the time.
Avoiding the comparison trap gives you the capacity to find true happiness in your own life.
#6 – Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a mindset shift that is super simple to implement. Every day, think of 3 to 5 things that you’re grateful for. Better yet, write them down.
When you implement a daily gratitude habit, since you need to think of so many things, you’re forced to find silver linings where you normally wouldn’t – and, therefore, you’re going to be enjoying the little things.
A List of “Little Things” to Enjoy
If you’re still struggling to find ways to enjoy the little things, here’s a list of some of my favorites:
- The first, super hot sip of my morning coffee
- Sleeping in my fresh, clean bed
- Starting a new book
- A visit from the neighborhood deer (even when they eat the apples off my trees)
- Getting up before my kids and savoring the quiet
- Singing and dancing to a favorite song that I haven’t heard in a while
- Beach days with my kids and mom friends
- When my cat snuggles up on my chest
- A clean kitchen
- That feeling after a visit to the library when you have a bunch of new books to read
- Getting mail that’s not a bill
- Enjoying an evening glass of wine on the deck with my husband
- Trying a new recipe that my whole family likes
- Sunshiny, 70-degree weather
- Thick, heavy snowflakes and a blanket of snow on the ground
- A bouquet of fresh flowers on my table
- Checking things off of my to-do list
- The first gooey bite of a homemade cinnamon roll
- The stuffed bookshelves in my home library
- Watching my kids play together nicely
- Rainy days
- A great hug from someone I love
- Freshly painted walls
- Enjoying a meal at a restaurant
Remember that life is short. Celebrate the little, seemingly insignificant moments because those are the ones that bring meaning to your life.
The little things make up the foundation of our lives. Being present, receptive, and grateful can bring so much joy into your life.
Simply put, the moments are what make a life.
What’s one of your favorite “little things”? Share in the comments!