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As I write this, I’m sitting outside on the back steps of the Old Capitol, the staple piece of Iowa City. It’s early October and a cool breeze compliments the warm sun on this beautiful afternoon. Sitting outside on a nice day and taking a few minutes to pause from my otherwise busy schedule – that’s one of my favorite things to do on campus. I pulled out my pen and paper and am writing whatever I’m feeling. Today, I’m feeling appreciative. Two years ago, these thoughts would have never popped into my mind.

My freshman year of college was not great – mentally. I constantly felt overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed about everything. Freshman year is supposed to be one of the greatest years of your life thus far. But for me, it was my absolute worst.

Looking back I can see that among other mental health issues, I wasn’t appreciating the little things in life. I wasn’t able to see past the hardships and find the good things that happened, and there were so many of them. Even now, if I’m having a tough day, I try and take a step back and see everything good that happens each day.

Ways to Start Appreciating the Little Things

  1. If you feel overwhelmed, take a break.
    • No matter what you’re doing, taking a few minutes to destress is going to help you realize what’s important. If I feel stressed, I take a quick walk, listen to my favorite song, call a friend, or find some other way to take a break from my busy day. Five minutes won’t set you back in your plan to get things done as long as you can manage your five minutes. Avoid sitting on your phone and finding a “quick distraction.”
  2. Write it down.
    • Whether it’s a note on your phone, or written in your planner, writing what has been good about your day will help you appreciate the little things. Then, if you write it down, you can go back and look at what you wrote down if you need a little pick me up. 
  3. Tell someone.
    • Call your friend, mom, brother, cousin – whoever it is. Talk to them for a few minutes and tell them what’s stressing you out. This is easier said than done, but just remember this. How would you feel if someone took five minutes out of their day to talk to you? I would be glad they thought of me in their time of need, or even if it was just to call and say hi!

Little Things make big things happen.

Taking a break, writing down what you’re appreciative of, and letting someone know that you appreciate them, are just three easy steps to help you find the little things in each day. Finding little things to appreciate has helped me have a more positive perspective on life. That might sound like a little bit cliché, but it really is true. By letting myself find small things that made me happy, I was able to have little moments of happiness, which would turn into a few hours of happiness, then a day of happiness, then multiple days in a row of having an overall happy, positive day. This might not work for you the same way it did (and still does) for me, but it might help. Even if I just help one person, the purpose of me writing this article is fulfilled. 😌

I love music, writing, and cooking. I love seeing my cat, watching TV shows on a rainy day, and fruit punch mixed with pineapple juice (try it, trust me). There is something to appreciate in almost everything you do, so start looking. You might be surprised at what you find.  There are so many things that I enjoy about my life every day. I used to have trouble finding what made me happy. Now, I am the happiest I have ever been, and I attribute part of that to appreciating the little things each day.

Tatiana is a junior studying Journalism and Mass Communication, Sustainability, and Psychology at the University of Iowa. Tatiana hopes to work in a big city as a social media marketer in environmental communication or an editorial writer.
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