Do you take time every day to enjoy the small things in life? Most people don't at the time they happen — only in retrospect.
You may naturally feel excited during big life events – weddings, newborn babies, first homes, job promotions, and so on – and I don’t mean to diminish their importance.
However, we often reminisce about enjoying the small things in life, those everyday moments that have made up the fabric of our lives.
Kurt Vonnegut said, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
Why are the little things in life important?
The little things are essential because they comprise the vast majority of our lives. Significant events occur sporadically. Small ones happen from moment to moment. When you neglect the little things, you miss out on enjoying a considerable swath of your life.
Thinking only about the big things without appreciating the little things can even be detrimental.
There's an outer and inner pressure connected to grand achievements, and being under a lot of pressure negatively affects your mental and physical health.
Feelings of anxiety, sleep difficulties, a compromised immune system, and unexplained aches and pains are not uncommon symptoms of being overly stressed.
Always wanting more instead of enjoying the simple things we already have can lead to a very unsatisfying life.
While goals and dreams certainly are beneficial, an insatiable desire to have more can leave you feeling dissatisfied and resentful. Continually striving to get further ahead removes you from joy and gratitude in the present moment.
This type of mindset removes the focus from what you have and puts it on thoughts of lack. However, a grateful heart allows you to see the good in appreciating the little things happening right now.
The ability to appreciate the small things can upgrade your life in a big way. There is reason to celebrate the small things and be grateful every day with just a slight shift in perspective.
Dr. Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, studies the science of gratitude and says that gratitude is a skill. This skill means anyone can strengthen and flex their gratitude muscle.
Quick note: Meeting new people and improving the quality of your relationships is a skill that can be developed. To learn more, check out this course that can help you massively boost your confidence at work and home.
- Why are the little things in life important?
- How Can I Enjoy the Small Things?
- 10 Ways of Enjoying the Little Things in Life
- 1. Appreciate the little things at home.
- 2. Notice your experiences with food.
- 3. Appreciate the little things in your relationships.
- 4. Enjoy the small things with children.
- 5. Notice the little things in nature.
- 6. Recognize the details when listening to music.
- 7. Pay attention to the impact of your clothes.
- 8. Savor the process of just breathing.
- 9. Appreciate the pleasures of connecting.
- 10. Enjoy the bliss in resting.
- Enjoy the Little Things Quotes
- What Does Enjoy the Little Things Mean?
How Can I Enjoy the Small Things?
1. Keep Track Of The Small Things
Intentionally notice the things you are grateful for and keep a record of them.
You can write them out in a physical journal, type them up in a Word document, or even record them in a gratitude journal app.
My counselor suggested to me to aim for three items a day, but you can really structure it (or not structure it) however works best for you.
2. Thank Someone for the Small Things
When someone does something for you, big or small, recognize it.
We all get wrapped up in our own lives, so it is pretty impressive when another person goes out of their way for you. You can say, “Thank you,” at the moment or perhaps send a thank you card to them afterward.
Not only will the other person feel good about being acknowledged, but also you will feel good too.
3. Compliment Someone For The Small Things
Say something complimentary to a friend, family member, romantic partner, or even a stranger.
Be as specific as possible to make it more meaningful. The people around us have so many attractive characteristics worth admiring if you take a moment to notice.
You may be surprised by just how many when you start actively seeking them out.
4. Appreciate Yourself For The Small Things
Don’t forget to extend this attitude of thankfulness to yourself, too. Compliment yourself for the smallest accomplishments or efforts.
You work hard, you have good intentions, and you make a positive impact on the people around you.
You are worthy of love and affection, so show it to yourself whenever possible too.
5. Live in the Moment And Appreciate The Little Things
My counselor once told me that depression is being stuck in the past, anxiety is being overly concerned about the future, but peace can be found by living in the present. Right now.
After all, our lives are created by millions of small “now” moments all strung together. You are alive, you are breathing, most likely at this very moment you are safe, and those are just the basics. There is a lot more to be thankful for.
“We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful: for having good weather, to have slept well last night, to be able to get up, to be healthy, to have enough to eat. . . There’s opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that’s what life is.” – David Steindl-Rast
Just as each day has its joys, each day also has its struggles. When our lives are missing gratitude for the small things, these struggles can hit us harder.
A positive and thankful mindset, however, will build up our resilience for when we are faced with the daily disappointments.
10 Ways of Enjoying the Little Things in Life
Are you wondering, “What are some little things in life that I should focus on?” Here are some simple ideas to help you get started.
1. Appreciate the little things at home.
Take a look around your home with fresh eyes.
Notice the sentimental objects and think about the meaning behind them.
Perhaps there are souvenirs on display from past adventures or that have been given to you as gifts by friends or family members.
Look through old photos and reminisce about the meaningful moments you have had the good fortune to experience throughout your life.
2. Notice your experiences with food.
Choose a snack or meal to experience with all your senses. Think about what you’re doing while you are preparing the food and listen to the sounds.
Appreciate the amazing transformation from single ingredients into a meal. Really look at your food before you eat it and notice the colors.
Smell its delicious aroma. Put a bite into your mouth and register the temperature, mouthfeel, and combination of flavors.
3. Appreciate the little things in your relationships.
Enjoying the simple expressions of love between us and our friends, family or romantic partners go a long way.
Take note when your friend gives you a compliment, your mom brings over a plate of brownies, or your partner washes the dishes.
Remember to appreciate these gestures, say thank you, and show love in return.
4. Enjoy the small things with children.
If you have children of your own, nieces and nephews, or friends’ kids to spend time with, take note of how children play.
They epitomize living in the moment and enjoying the small things. Young children engage fully in what they are doing.
Plus, they can be as happy playing with a newfangled electronic toy as they are playing with a box or some kitchen utensils. They can certainly teach us adults a thing or two.
5. Notice the little things in nature.
Get outside. We so rarely stop and smell the roses, as they say. You could go for a hike through the forest, take a stroll alongside a lake, or have a seat in a park.
Really look around you and notice the beauty there is. The blue of the sky, the formations of clouds, the vibrant plants, or the skittering animals are all pretty amazing when we actually take the time to observe.
6. Recognize the details when listening to music.
Put on a piece of music and do nothing else while you listen.
You can even close your eyes. Notice how the melodies and harmonies intertwine. Can you pick out different instruments?
Think about the meaning behind the lyrics of a song. Depending on your choice of music, I’m betting you will get goosebumps from the experience.
7. Pay attention to the impact of your clothes.
This may sound a little superficial, but what we wear really can affect how we feel.
Perhaps a sharp suit helps you feel empowered. Maybe a slinky dress gives you a confidence boost.
Brightly colored shoes may radiate joy for you. Or an old, oversized sweater could bring you comfort.
Think about the way your clothing impacts your mindset and put on something that helps you feel good.
8. Savor the process of just breathing.
We breathe without even thinking about it, so have you realized how amazing it is?
Breathing brings oxygen to our body and its organs while removing toxins. It calms the body and mind. It releases tension and keeps us healthy by doing so much more.
Take five deep, mindful breaths and focus on all the incredible benefits you are experiencing just by doing something you automatically do.
9. Appreciate the pleasures of connecting.
In our digital age, the world is shrinking. From phone calls to text messages and emails to social media, there has never been so many ways to connect with one another.
For most people, their little cell phone alone can achieve all of this. All you have to do is pull it out of your pocket. Take advantage of how easy it is, and send some positive vibes to someone you love today.
10. Enjoy the bliss in resting.
There are few things that feel as good as waking up in the morning actually rested and ready to conquer the day.
Ensure you get a good night’s sleep by incorporating meditation, relaxation techniques, lavender scents, or chamomile tea beforehand.
Take time outs for yourself throughout the day as well to keep your mood and energy level lifted.
Continue to celebrate the big milestones in life – they are important as well. Just remember to enjoy the small things in your day to day life too.
With practice, it will become second nature. As you focus on living in the present moment, you will more easily notice all of the simple pleasures that you used to take for granted.
As your gratitude muscle strengthens, your life will begin to feel even more satisfying and full of joy.
Enjoy the Little Things Quotes
Here's one more way you can enjoy the small things — by finding inspiration from the words of thought leaders.
We've curated a few quotes about enjoying the little things to shift you into a gratitude frame of mind.
- It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen. – John Wooden
2. Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things. – Frank A. Clark
3. I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. – Leo Buscaglia
4. In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed. – Kahlil Gibran
5. Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air. –Georges Bernanos
6. Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. – Camille Pissarro
7. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out. – Robert Collier
8. We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa
9. Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. – Vincent Van Gogh
10. Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once. True greatness consists in being great in the little things. – Charles Simmons
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What Does Enjoy the Little Things Mean?
Are you motived to live with more gratitude, presence, and contentment? Maybe you're not sure how to make that happen and what it means when people suggest that it's the small things that make a big difference.
I want to break it down for you in the simplest terms that can be applied to all areas of your life and your outlook on finding happiness.
- It means slow down.
- Release your addiction to adrenaline and activity.
- Stop focusing so much on the destination and appreciate the journey.
- Pay attention to the present moment and all of the joy it contains.
- Stop waiting for happiness, and see it in your life right now.
- Look at the world through the eyes of a child and experience wonder again.
I hope you'll use the exercises outlined here and strive to appreciate the small things in life to experience more gratitude every day. Which little things in life did you find most encouraging and inspirational for you?
Grace Furman is a writer and blogger at Heartful Habits. Heartful Habits is a place of inspiration for what Grace calls living mindfully and heartfully.