I had a lot of plans for this year. Big plans. Long-wished for plans. But, things, as things often do, got in the way. In that whirlwind, it can feel like everything is falling apart. But I’ve found that while the big things may be shaken and even taken from us, there are always little things to turn to. Smidges of hope. It’s important to know how to appreciate the little things.
Our attitude towards the little things in life is what truly sets life’s tone. Yes, maybe those moments don’t make the film’s final cut, but they play just as big a role in shaping who we are and what we do as anything else.
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr
Why is it important to learn how to appreciate the little things?
Consider how people talk about people who’ve passed away. Sure, they reminisce on good times and all the exciting things they did, but people tend to focus on the little details they remember them for. The music they had on repeat, the jokes they used to tell, the particular way they took their coffee or their love for rainy days over sunny ones. It’s always those little details that remain special to us.
Benefits you’ll find when you start appreciating little things
It’ll make you happier
The little things set the tone for your life; they make us who we are and make our lives ours. When you start appreciating them, life gets more exciting, more interesting, more full. The little things are what makes life magical.
Picture life as a jar. Every event, every gettogether, every trip, concert, and day out is a stone in your jar. Filling the jar makes you happy, so you keep adding more stones. Great. But, in between your stones, you have these big gaps that leave you feeling a little empty – they leave you searching for the highs that stones give you.
So you fill the gaps with sand, tiny individual grains of sand. Grain by grain, the little things fill out the rest of your life, a funny joke, a beautiful view, compliments, quiet moments, smiles, gifts, good weather, smells, sights, colours, surprises – I could go on forever.
That’s how you find contentment. That’s how you truly fill the jar.
Make every second count
People are at their most happy when they’re busy, but in that whirlwind, it can be tricky to remember to stop and smell the roses.
Especially in this day and age, when you’re constantly seeing all the amazing things everyone else is doing. It’s easy to feel as though you should always be on the go, always surrounded by people, bright lights and loud music, always laughing, always working, always travelling. Always doing something big.
But I think it’s important for us to encourage a quiet solo morning to feel just as fulfilling as a loud night out. It won’t be loved for its noise or its craziness. But it can be loved for its calm, for the reflection and peace that it brings, for the sunlight and the coffee. It’s contentment.
So now I’ve had my ramble, how do you learn how to appreciate the little things?
How to appreciate the little things in 3 steps
Step 1) Be present
The first step for appreciating the little things is actually beginning to notice them. When you’re lost in your head or blocking the world out, the little things are easy to miss.
“Anyone can buy a car or a night on the town. Most of us shell our days like peanuts. One in a thousand can look at the world with amazement. I don’t mean gawking at the Chrysler Building. I’m talking about the wing of a dragonfly. The tale of the shoeshine. Walking through an unsullied hour with an unsullied heart.” – Amor Towles
~ Get curious
Curiosity, I think, is one of the best skills at allowing us to approach every moment. Not only does it allow us to be more open-minded and optimistic, but just taking the time to wonder, to ponder and to think allows us to engage much more fully with whatever’s in front of us. That curiosity will be the skill that highlights the little things around you.
There are lots of tricks you can use to get more curious. Each of them starts with giving your mind something new. Read everything you can get your hands on. Try to meet new people. Change up your routines. Expose yourself to content you can learn from. Try activities that push your comfort zone. The more you’re outside of your ‘usual’, the more aware and alert your brain will be. Here, you’ll learn to be more curious.
~ Work with your senses
Our mind might be the thinker, but our senses control how we feel the world. Checking in with your senses is a great way to ground yourself. I remember one of my English teachers at school telling me that great writers always look up, that to create a world that’s realistic you need all the little details, including the colour of the ceiling.
I noticed a little while ago that sometimes I’d finish a meal and have no recollection of how it tasted. My head was in the clouds, always somewhere else, too distracted to really appreciate what was in front of me. So, I made a point of focussing on my food when I ate. I put the distractions down and concentrated my energy on my senses, rather than lost somewhere in my head.
~ Remove distractions
Which brings me nicely onto my next point – lose the distractions. I’m not going to tell you to hide your phone or ditch your headphones, I believe they can be great assets to make moments even better. But whatever you’re doing, give it your full attention. Take in the sounds of a busy street or dedicate your focus to the music. That halfway in between is where time starts to disappear and you arrive home with little memory of the journey.
~ Accept the moment for what it is
It’s common to see people immersed in the moment when they’re completely relaxed, concentrating, or excitable. But when situations are stressful, upsetting or frustrating, that’s when the moment tends to be lost.
Learning to accept and forgive a moment for not being what you’d hoped it would be. When we hang on to expectations, we upset ourselves and disregard any opportunity for a moment to go well. Building your own confidence will also help you become more comfortable in uncomfortable moments. Whatever life has to throw at you, know you can handle it, and even enjoy it, if only you look for the little things.
Step 2) Create
“I romanticize life the way artists see scenery or a dreamer gazes up at the stars.” – Anastasia Bolinder
Create your little things. You might be thinking it sounds a little forced, but I promise you, once you get into it, it won’t be. I’ve always been a lover of aesthetics, of, for lack of a better term, ‘creating a vibe’. Atmosphere makes all the difference. It’s a way of setting your perspective and really, it just makes life more interesting (although really, it’s just you taking more interest in life).
So, your next step: romanticise the crap out of everything.
Take your morning commute and create the story of the best commute that’s ever been had. Then do it. Note how pretty the trees are, comment on the nice weather, feel the energy of a crowd of people, wonder where the man opposite you is going, play the music that makes you feel like you’re walking through a film, swear that your coffee is the best you’ve ever had (trust me, it’ll start to taste like it).
Step 3) Gratitude
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah
~ Start a gratitude journal
Reflecting on the good will train your mind to be more positive, it’s as simple as that. Even if you don’t write it down (although it is nice to have a list to refer to), frequently looking for the good in your life will start to set a positive tone for your thoughts. It’s a great habit to clear your thoughts before bed, or set the tone for your day in the morning (or even better, both!).
~ Say thank you
Action’s just as important here. Besides just being a way to brighten the world, little acts of gratitude, a thank you or an act of kindness, will reinforce your positive mindset. When you see your thoughts realised in the real world and you feel your receiver’s glowing reaction you’ll be rewarding your brain for appreciating the little things and it’ll be easier and easier to do it again.
~ Be kind
Equally, appreciation needn’t always be in return for someone’s actions. It needn’t even be for someone you know! Spontaneously show appreciation for those around you, friend, family, stranger and yourself (don’t miss this one!). Pushing positive energy out to the world is the best way to find and generate positive energy within yourself (it’s the law of attraction!). Show kindness to nature, to your belongings, to yourself, show as much compassion as you can to everything that crosses your path. It’ll become second nature.
The whole world is full of niceties, if only we take the time to notice.
~ Surround yourself with things you love
This can be anything from good people to reminders of memories (I adore a good photograph), little things to act as day brighteners to activities you love. We spoke about finding and creating your own little things so make sure you surround yourself with them and include them in your routines. You have the power to create your life exactly as you wish, afterall.
~ Remind yourself that there’s good in everything
This will become more natural over time, but as you start out, it’s important to stick to this mindset as much as possible. If I asked you to count how many yellow cars you saw today, how many more do you think you’d notice than if I hadn’t? It’s the core of manifestation. Remind yourself that there’s good everywhere and trust me, you’ll start seeing it.
Learning how to appreciate the little things will make a huge difference in your approach to life. When you find the beauty in the mundane, the gold amongst the stone, you’ll find yourself truly content and attracting a lot more positivity into your life.
Enjoy every second. Love, Ella-Rose xx