How To Be More Appreciative Of The Little Things

by Isadora Baum, CHC

In life, we can tend to consider only the larger things that we feel will surmount to happiness. A great job, money, success, a family, freedom to travel, and more; these larger goals are important for health and happiness, but its the day-to-day little things that can boost our moods and wellbeing.

As a certified health coach, I try to focus on finding the smaller, simpler things that can make us happy and energized each day. Those little features add up, leading to greater happiness, productivity and success and inching us towards our larger goals. The only way to achieve a great job that makes us feel fulfilled and purposeful, a beautiful family, and financial freedom is by staying resilient through life's ups and down and maintaining a positive and appreciative attitude. By showing gratitude for the smaller things in life, without unrealistic expectations that can be disheartening when not met, we are better able to enjoy life for what it is, one step at a time.

Here are thirteen hacks to feeling happier on a daily basis and grateful for life's simplest gifts. By considering all that you do have, rather than what you are missing, you're more likely to feel satisfied, less stressed and more connected to the world at large.

1. Be In The Moment

Focus on enjoying the present moment and taking in the sounds, senses, voices and faces of those around you. "We often miss out on life’s little treasures because instead of using our senses to engage in the world around us, we remain in 'our heads' worrying about the future or ruminating about the past," says Chicago-based therapist, Chelsea Hudson, in an email interview with Bustle. Appreciate the current moments you have, and make the most of them.

2. Put Down Technology When With Others

When out to dinner with friends, put away the Facebook, emails and iMessage group chats. The one caveat: an Instagram photo is acceptable, but then put it away! When with others, focus your attention on them. Be grateful for the people in your life who make time for you and lend support. "Spend less time with your eyes glued to your phone and look around you," says Hudson. Appreciate your close network and the opportunities for quality time.

3. Be Mindful Of Your Surroundings

"Mindfulness is a great skill that can help you cultivate more gratitude in life," says Hudson. Be mindful of what you say and how you act, and show awareness for other people and things around you. If you eat mindfully, for instance, you will be more appreciative of your food, the time you have to eat alone or in the company of others, and of the flavors of the ingredients that you are fortunate to savor.

4. Do A Gratitude Exercise

Taking the time to express your gratitude through words can have a real impact on your emotional wellbeing. Listing a few things that you are grateful for, from both others and your own accomplishments, is a great way to put things in a positive, appropriate perspective."Spend a few minutes at the end of each day either journaling about what you’re grateful for or having each member in the family name one thing they are grateful for," advises Hudson. Plus, if you bring in others, it will spread the good feelings all around!

5. Create A "Happy Project"

Take yourself on a long-term journey where you gain newfound appreciation for life's little things each day. "Embark on a '100 days of gratitude' project where you take a picture each day of something you’re grateful for that you can later turn into an album for your coffee table and to share with others," suggests Hudson. Make a promise to yourself, and strive to find happiness in life's moments and to overcome obstacles quickly.

6. Watch Less Television

Studies show that watching excess television can impair our happiness. Television can take away from social interactions and creative, healthy hobbies, such as painting, exercising, and reading. "Watching less tv will leave you with more time to be present with your loves ones or explore your hidden talents, all of which can increase your appreciation for life," says Hudson. Limit television to under an hour a day.

7. Have A Regular Spot

I'm a regular at three Starbucks coffee shops near me, where all the employees know my order, leave the soy milk out at the counter, and greet me with a huge smile and uplifting energy. It's such a joy to go somewhere and feel at home and to make friends with the people you surround yourself with on a daily basis. Find a few local areas, and get to know the people who work there and are regulars, as well. That sense of belonging should be appreciated, as it feeling accepted can boost wellbeing.

8. Speak To Strangers

Taking the time to speak to strangers on the street or providing a compliment to a co-worker can make you feel happier and more connected to the world. Making friends, or simply just interacting with others, can make us smile and feel as though we matter. Not only will you enhance their days too, but you'll also feel more appreciative of where you are in your present life.

9. Move Your Body

Not only does exercise increase wellbeing and productivity, by result of a rush of endorphins, but it also can help you appreciate the wonderful body and its abilities that you were so generously given. Take advantage of your legs and strengthen them, so that they can perform at their full capacity. Go for a walk outside, and let your hair blow in the breeze and feelings of liberation wash over you.

10. Enjoy The Sunshine

Studies show that vitamin D can make you feel happier, and the greatest source is found in sunlight. Exposure to the sun's rays can make you feel more appreciative of each day, as the light instantly perks up our moods and frees us. Aim for at least ten minutes of natural light a day, and if you are in a colder climate or season, invest in a light therapy lamp or take a vitamin D supplement, along with 2-3 servings of fish a week.

11. Say "I Love You"

Telling someone you love them each day, either by phone, email or in person, can make you more appreciative of the close relationships you have and will positively influence the other person's wellbeing, as well. If in person, pair it with a kiss or hug. These three words can immediately facilitate the activation of oxytocin, the "love" hormone that makes us feel loved and comforted.

12. Play With Animals

Research shows that playing with dogs can boost wellbeing. If you own a dog, take your furry friend out for a walk in the morning or after work. You'll both enjoy the fresh air and quality time together. Too cold? Play catch inside or snuggle on the couch with a movie. Even just petting your dog and watching his or her big, beautiful eyes look back at you can encourage a smile.

13. Take A Hot Bath

Letting your muscles relax after a busy day is so beneficial for both the physical body and the soul. Also, a hot bath can help you reconnect with your body and promote self-love, which will also help you appreciate yourself for all the tough things you do in life. Water is so pure, and that purity translates into your being and the simplistic, treasurable qualities of life. Take deep breaths, and relax. You deserve it!

By remembering the little things that make us happy, from relationships and alone time to movement and play, it becomes clear just how valuable life is. Having greater goals is important, as they mark a destination, but don't lose sight of the journey along the way. Enjoying each step is the only way to really appreciate the process and know where you are headed.

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