How to Appreciate the Small Things in Life

Young flower growers in the family greenhouse
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We all get impatient. We all have bad days, and bad moods, and times when literally everything seems to be going wrong at once. But a new study has found that gratitude helps us become more patient and practice greater self-control. Which, like, everyone wants to do, right?

The study, recently published in the journal Emotion , found a direct correlation between heightened levels of daily gratitude and a person's patience level. Led by David DeSteno, a psych professor and researcher at Northeastern University, the study began by asking 105 people to complete a computer task. Each computer was programmed to shut down unexpectedly once the participant was close to finishing, at which point a researcher would enter the room and inform the participant that once the computer was fixed, they would need to start the task over. Another actor would then offer to help, hitting a button that would turn the computer screen back on, with the participant’s place saved.

Once the task was completed, the participants were asked to rate their levels of gratitude toward the actor. Those who reported feeling more gratitude during the computer task were also found to experience higher levels of gratitude throughout their daily schedule.

At the end of three weeks, the participants were offered two options: Receive $30 immediately, or $50 in three weeks. Those willing to wait for the larger sum of cash were those with the highest measured levels of gratitude.

Having conducted a number of studies regarding the way we process feelings of compassion, empathy and gratitude, DeSteno structured this particular study to explore the relationship between self-control and emotion. The antidote to impatience and a lack of self-control has long been considered willpower and logic; DeSteno argues that we can cultivate certain positive emotions, like gratitude, and utilize them as relaxation techniques in our everyday lives.

This completely makes sense to me; the whole "counting your blessings" thing is a great way to be more mindful. "[When] you cultivate gratitude in your life, it’s like a self-control buffer. It helps you more frequently be ready to resist temptation and do the right thing, whatever that right thing may be," said DeSteno in an interview with TIME.

The trick, according to DeSteno, is to focus on the little tiny moments throughout the day. Here are a few of my favorites. A gratitude starter pack, if you will.

1. Waking Up To Sunshine

Thank you, Daylight Savings Time. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This little Midwestern snow bunny was feeling so sad and grumpy about getting ready in the dark.

2. And Facing An Obligation-Free Morning

Actually cook yourself breakfast for once. Sit down while eating it. No, perching on the counter does not count as sitting down.

3. Making The Bus Just In Time

I feel like a beautiful witch when I arrive at my stop just as the bus is rolling in.

4. That Full-Body Exhaustion Feeling After A Good Workout

Especially if you haven't reached that jelly-leg state in a while.

5. And A Long-ish Shower

When you actually have time to shave, if that's your jam (but no pressure if it's not, of course). Both legs.

6. Oh, And Finding Some "Alone Time"

I mean... yeah. Masturbation is amazing. Straight up.

7. Swapping Smiles With A Stranger

When you smile, and they smile back, and you're like, "Yeah, not all humans are bad."

8. Laughing Uncontrollably

Ugh. Gigglefests are the best.

9. Trying A New Recipe And Having It Turn Out Well

You are a rockstar chef and a kween at feeding yourself.

10. Going To Bed Early

Getting a full eight hours is magic, my dudes.

Images: GeorgiNutsov/E+/Getty Images; Giphy