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Mental Health

The Beauty of Appreciating the Little Things (and How it Changes Your Life)

The first sip of coffee of the day. A walk in the park. Blasting your favourite song in the shower. The croissant your friend brought you from the bakery. All of these are very simple things that might make your day a little bit brighter. These are what people more commonly call “the little things”. I know that there are hundreds of articles about this, but I think it’s always nice to have a little daily reminder.

I used to always be a massive sceptic of this philosophy because I didn’t believe that it would actually change my life. Then Corona happened and I realised how valuable the little moments in life are and how they ultimately make us happier!

 

This is how paying attention to little things can make you happier:

You learn to live slower

Appreciating the little things forces you to live slower which, at first is hard. We live in a society where hustle culture is extremely present and glorified. A day with little productivity is perceived as a lost day. Little things are perceived as meaningless. However, this way of life can be extremely detrimental to one’s mental health because it implies being constantly overworked. Sometimes, living life at a slower pace can revolutionize the way we view our surroundings. This, of course, also includes the “little things” that we usually tend to oversee because we are so wrapped up in our daily lives and occupations.

To appreciate the little things, we need to live slower to even notice that they are there. When we start to pay more attention to little details that usually stay unnoticed, we realise that they are everywhere, starting from light falling perfectly into a room or a cute squirrel spotted on the way to university. This causes us to ultimately be more grateful which leads me to my next point.,,

 

You become more grateful and appreciative of what you have

Appreciating the little things can lead you to having fewer high expectations in life, but in a good way! Let me explain this: on a very trivial level, when it comes to gifts from our loved ones, someone who enjoys the little things will highly appreciate homemade or simple presents, instead of expecting expensive, material ones.

Moreover, you will be more appreciative of your loved ones as a whole! Nowadays, particularly through the media, we tend to have extremely high and hardly achievable standards of our friends, family, or partner. Some of us spend our evenings watching romantic comedies where the man goes above and beyond to impress a girl or teen movies where people organise the biggest and most expensive surprise party for their friend (please tell me I’m not the only one doing this). But let’s be honest, how often does that happen in the real world? Not that often. And that’s totally fine!

However, because we are told from a young age that people must make grand gestures to show us that they love us, we tend to oversee or ignore the little things they do to brighten our day. These can manifest themselves in different ways: your boyfriend who helps you to do a task you’re struggling with, your dad sending you a funny meme every morning or your friend who gives you a big hug when you’re feeling low. In other words, the fact your boyfriend “only” gifted you your favourite chocolate cake doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about you. It’s rather the opposite: think of the time he spent wondering what he was going to make and the hours he spent baking and decorating. Little things like that are truly priceless!

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Even if sounds so mundane and obvious, it is very easy to forget and to expect too much of the people we love the most. By writing this, I don’t mean that one should accept low moral or personality standards because that is totally different. It is of course extremely important that a person treats you right!

 

You become happier

This is scientifically proven! According to a study carried out by scientists “the little things in life engage our senses rather than the big things.” This is the case because, usually little things, such as the smell of an old book or the sound of rain pattering on a window, are associated with nice memories related to our childhood or our younger self [1]. As a result, “happiness hormones” are released which includes dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins. It is indeed true, that we have more nice memories related to chocolate than to a Ferrari! It also makes you more grateful for what you have!

Also, referring to my previous points, another reason why appreciating the little things makes you happier is because it makes you more grateful of what you have!

 

In conclusion, appreciating the little things totally goes against our system of capitalism, where we are constantly expected to always think bigger and bigger and to want more and more, which is why, in the beginning, it can seem hard. But once you’ve got the hang of it, it does truly change your life: you are more appreciative, grateful, and above all, happy!

 

Source:

European Politics student, chocolate-lover and writing enthusiast
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