A recent study found that Americans rated listening to their favorite song, enjoying a nice dinner and watching their favorite movie as the top three “little things” that bring joy. While they’re all pretty easy to incorporate into life, more than half of those polled said they don’t enjoy life’s simple pleasures enough and others felt like they don’t have enough time to.
Sometimes we take little moments for granted if we’re not plugged in (or unplugged, rather) and being mindful. It’s easy to harp on the negatives, but positive thoughts have more power than you think – and it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture to count.
Identify what makes you happy
Flowers delivered on our birthday make us smile, but did you ever think about visiting a flower shop to pick out your own once a month? The idea is to slow down enough to recognize those moments of joy and seek to replicate them more often.
Sometimes finding the positive means feeling the negative first. You can counteract the feelings of longing, like missing your kids during a day at the office, with something good. Frame a bunch of goofy family photos that make you laugh (they say it’s the best medicine, after all), then set them up all over your workspace.
Incorporate simple pleasures in everyday life
We’re glued to our smartphones (potentially a problem in and of itself), so use its features to remind you of the little things that make you happiest. You can use your notes app to jot down what made you smile throughout the day. It’ll become a go-to list to look at when you’re in need of a boost (there’s something particularly powerful about writing them down – or typing them out – that makes them stick in your memory). Sit on the front porch with a cup of coffee, take a walk in the park or make a home-cooked meal … you get the gist.
Most small moments don’t need a big budget, but there are some you’ll want to plan for – like exploring somewhere new or luxury bed linens (both of which made a top 50 list of simple pleasures). If that pressed crease in your pants puts a smile on your face, work a weekly dry-cleaning visit into your budget.
While it’s human nature to have what psychologists call “negativity bias” (a totally normal way your brain protects you from future harm), pessimism can take its toll. Balance that with a small dose of joy now and again, and you may just find yourself walking lighter.
If you’re looking to retrain your brain to seek out the simple pleasures in life:
- Focus on the good things, no matter how small and even in the most challenging of situations
- Keep a gratitude journal to hold you accountable for practicing thankfulness daily
- Prioritize what makes you feel happy by setting aside time, energy and a budget to see those things through
Sources: slh.com; healthline.com; huffpost.com
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