The average day can be packed with annoying moments that all too easily set you on edge. And once you spot them, they’re tough to ignore. If a stranger cuts you off in traffic, it’s only a matter of time before you drop your phone or an elevator closes in your face — and suddenly your day feels like a wash. If you see triggers like these wherever you go, it may be time to look for glimmers instead.
Glimmers are tiny, positive moments that bring you a mini spike of joy, like when you meet a cute dog in a park, step out into the sun, or take that first perfect sip of iced coffee. The term was coined by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who wrote about it in her 2018 book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy. She recommends keeping an eye out for glimmers as a way to regulate your nervous system so you can ultimately feel lighter and brighter — and a lot less triggered.
The hunt for glimmers has taken off on TikTok, where the term has over 3.2 million views. Creators have been sharing their own positive moments, and many note that the practice of looking for glimmers helps them feel a whole lot better.
“When your focus is only on bad moments, it can create a heightened sense of anxiety and sadness because it can feel as though there is nothing to look forward to,” says Nyanda A. Sam-King, LCSW, a licensed mental health therapist. But when you look for glimmers, suddenly things don’t seem so bad. Read on for everything to know about the mood-boosting practice.
What Are Glimmers?
Unlike a big vacation, birthday party, or mega-fun night out with friends, glimmers are those small, easy-to-miss moments in your daily life that bring about a moment of peace or joy. You can look for glimmers while on a hot girl walk, as creator @mandy.liddle does, or you can keep your eyes peeled as you go about your day.
In her post on the topic, Liddle noticed a bunch of purple flowers, leaves rustling in the breeze, a ray of sun, and a random cat. These are things you might walk by every day without noticing, but when you stop to appreciate them, they totally count as glimmers.
The Benefits Of Glimmers
Being cognizant of glimmers is all about slowing down and feeling a little more present, which is the opposite of being triggered. Like any mindfulness or gratitude practice, it can take some practice and patience, but the results are totally worth it.
“By training your mind to look for glimmers, you are appreciating the simple joys and moments of everyday life,” says Carrie Torn, LMSW, a licensed therapist in North Carolina. “You often can develop a greater appreciation for the present moment, relationships, and the beauty around them — which increases feelings of being grounded, present, and calm.”
As you look for glimmers, you might realize how much you accidentally take for granted. “Over time, you will also feel empowered and proud of your ability to find glimmers internally and externally faster,” says Sam-King. “Looking for glimmers helps you recognize that joy is always accessible, and finding them throughout your day can enhance the quality of your day overall.”
How To Spot Glimmers
Glimmers are everywhere and they’re yours for the taking. To find them, Sam-King recommends looking up and being more observant. Scan around you while you walk to work, eat lunch, or go to a store. Is there a nice breeze? Do you hear someone’s funny laugh? If it makes you feel happy or peaceful, it’s a glimmer.
It also helps to get specific, says Torn. Instead of thinking, “I’m grateful for my dog,” a glimmer would be, "I'm grateful I got to walk my dog this morning and she made me laugh when she chased a cat."
The idea is that the practice can train your brain to focus on the positive and unexpected events throughout your day rather than the negative, Torn explains. “Over time, you can recognize these moments as they occur — and savor them in the present moment.”
Nyanda A. Sam-King, LCSW, licensed mental health therapist
Carrie Torn, LMSW, licensed therapist