We usually focus on our major milestones and achievements. But life has small, unexpected moments that can bring immense joy to our lives.
Gratitude is a funny thing because we really don’t know whether it’s an emotion, behavior, or virtue. Still, we know that we should feel and express it regularly and that it’s associated with happiness.
Of all the small things that make you happy, being grateful is the most powerful, because there is al
Life is not made up of big thing; but a million small things.
ways an opportunity for it. It’s like the umbrella that all the little things in life fall under. In one second, you can savor each fleeting moment and appreciate the positive impact of the people around you.
Why is Gratitude Important?
Being grateful to people around you can do what no flowers, dinners, or jewelry ever can. Gratitude is so important in holding family and friends together, and it can even impact strangers in ways we can’t imagine, and may never know.
If you’re trying to reignite the romance sparks, express gratitude to your partner.
Numerous studies show that people who are grateful to their partner feel closer to them. The continual acts of gratitude open expressions from couples that allow them to feel comfortable in their relationship. This comfort makes it easier to express other forms of gratitude and a feedback loop is created. Gratitude is the number one predictor that a relationship will flourish.
Why is Gratitude Important for Mental Health?
Appreciating the small things in life can have remarkable effects on your mental health and resilience. Gratitude can help you bounce back in times when it may be justified to do things in the light of frustration. For instance, if you’ve ever watched a documentary about some indigenous communities, you’ll always see them smiling despite their adversity.
Being Grateful Makes Your Heart Stronger
Gratitude reduces stress, allows you to sleep better, and even strengthens your heart — metaphorically and literally. Positive emotions associated with appreciation reduce the risk of hypertension, sudden congestive heart failure, and even coronary heart disease.
Gratitude Helps You Get Back on Track When You Bounce Back
Being grateful allows you to get back to the things that are truly meaningful in your life. We are all human, and we all fall off sometimes. But when we appreciate, we go right back to where we need to be. It allows us to consider our values, remember our priorities, and think more about how to live better.
Pebble with a smile drawn on it.
Unexpected, Delightful, and Small Things That Make You Happy
We’ve compiled pleasant, unexpected things that warm our hearts. It’s not about being on the receiving end of these things; sometimes, being the giver of happiness improves your well-being and satisfaction in life.
- Your partner randomly shows affection.
Have you ever tried to reach for something and ended up reaching for it at the same time as your partner, accidentally touching each other, and then smiling? Or received a quick touch on your arm, a hug, or a kiss from someone you cherish?
These are the moments we yearn for. A touch from a loved one or a random show of affection can trigger the release of oxytocin or the “love hormone.” It signals trust and safety.
- A familiar smell from your childhood
It’s raining, the fragrance of petrichor — the smell of rain on dry earth — hits you, and you remember the refreshing summer storms or playing in puddles as a child.
You’ve probably experienced such vivid memories of other scents like freshly baked bread, campfire smoke, scented candles, perfume, freshly cut grass, and more.
Smell is one of the strongest triggers for memories. According to a study, smells elicit powerful memories linked to your life’s story; they sometimes trigger recollections that are more emotional and evocative than any other sensory triggers like touch, visual, or touch.
Why do smells elicit such vivid memories? Scientists don’t know yet, but they hope to solve this mystery in the future.
- A generous gesture
Generosity has a certain unexpectedness to it, and it’s so heartwarming when someone does something for us.
Simple things like opening the door for someone when their arms are full, letting a person go ahead in a line, or paying for the coffee of a person who’s behind you at a drive-through. All these little things make us feel what it truly means to be human.
- Feeling understood
You’ve found a new song, movie, or book; you show it to your friend or partner, and they love it! Few things are as satisfying as feeling understood. It makes you feel emotionally safe and is akin to being socially “endorsed.”
You’ve probably heard the story about the “Angel of the Gap.” In five decades, Don Ritchie saved nearly 160 people from committing suicide at an infamous suicide spot in Australia. He did this by offering a simple gesture and inviting them over for a cup of tea at his home. Most of those people just wanted to feel understood or to have someone else listen to them.
- Hitting an exact number
No matter what age you are, hitting an exact number when pumping gas or shopping is an unexpected happy moment. Perhaps it satisfies some OCD part in us, or maybe we want things that are easy to process and make sense of.
- Eating a perfectly ripe fruit
If you’ve ever cut a perfectly green avocado or found a dark yellow peach, you know this feeling. It’s a feeling you should savor and appreciate.
- Waking up rested and fresh
With our busy lives, most of us never get a long, satisfying break. When was the last time you woke up feeling clear-headed, rejuvenated, and relaxed?
Better sleep can improve your mental health, so it’s crucial to find ways to improve your sleep. You’ll be grateful later when you start waking up fresher and are ready to seize the day!
- A work meeting that got canceled last minute
Most of us are children at heart and will rejoice, at least internally, if that meeting — that should have been an email — gets canceled at the last minute because the boss got held up.
You probably feel the same about long weekends—the joy when a public holiday comes before or after a weekend.
- Wearing a favorite nightshirt or jeans
It’s hard not to appreciate the perfect pajama or pair of jeans. Everyone has that jacket, hoodie, or t-shirt that they cherish.
- The feel of fresh bed sheets
There’s nothing like the feel of cool, clean bedsheets on your bed.
Speaking of perfect…
- Flipping your pillow at night
Even sleep tends to come faster when turning to the cool side.
- Spending time in nature
Nature can also surprise us with unexpected, awe-inspiring moments of gratitude. Seeing a breathtaking sunset or sunrise can invoke deep emotions in us. Also, rainbows never fail to fascinate us, plus they mean specific things to certain cultures — perhaps if you’re thankful, you’ll one day find the pot of gold that leprechauns have hidden at the end of the rainbow.
Another thing that nature surprises us is the amazing feel of grass, soil, or sand on our feet. Besides the feel-good factor of walking barefoot at the beach, this practice of allowing our bodies to connect with the earth has been shown to have fantastic positive effects such as reducing painful inflammation and boosting sleep quality.
- An important figure in your life saying they are proud of you
Most people yearn for external rewards like the “status” they get from money and power. But intrinsic rewards like a loved one telling you they are proud of you can be more fulfilling.
- When someone says “thank you” from their heart
When someone gives, they are also the ones to receive. Your presence is an opportunity for others to do good things. This makes you a very important figure in people’s lives.
Take a deep breath. You’ve Got This!
Our lives have become so busy that it’s easy to take the little things for granted. However, these moments of joy and gratitude remind us to slow down and appreciate the wonderful little things around us.
This article is a repost by Inspiring Click: Gratitude: 15 Small Things That Make You Happy in Big Ways