With the endless parade of work, school, soccer practice, meal making, cleaning, and so on, sometimes we can get so wrapped up in having a life that we forget to live. How do we step back and ensure that we are enjoying life while caring for ourselves and those around us?
Caring for other people and finding happiness doesn’t require lots of money. The greatest impressions we leave on those around us (and ourselves) are made of millions of small moments each day. To better enjoy life we can collect the right moments.
A Moment of Gratitude
Showing genuine gratitude builds confidence in those around us and within ourselves. To collect and share a genuine moment of gratitude for gifts, kind words, deeds, or a job well done, make eye contact. Smile. Those extra seconds we take to connect with those around us will give them and us a greater sense of fulfillment. There are many things in life to be grateful for. This exercise helps us to recognize them. And, who knows? It may just leave you smiling all the time.
A Moment to Appreciate Life
Appreciation is a step deeper than gratitude. Gratitude is an act of verbalizing appreciation, but to appreciate involves engaging the five senses. Professor Nancy Fagley, who did a study on how appreciation can lead to greater satisfaction in life, says, “The challenge in fostering appreciation is that we want to periodically reflect on the positive aspects of our lives, value our friends and family, relish and savor the good times—without the practice of reflection becoming a rote habit or something that is taken for granted.”
To really bask in a moment, engage the five sense. While making dinner for loved ones, feel the dough beneath your hands. Inhale the zesty zing of those peppers. Can you hear the birds singing outside the window? Taste the fresh pop of that baby tomato? Did you notice how the light plays in the fibers of your curtains? Wait a moment, why is that window closed? Open it! Embrace the moment.
A Moment of Happiness
Collecting small moments requires recognizing the difference between happiness and pleasure. While both happiness and pleasure evoke joyful feelings, the difference is that happiness is a long term choice. When forced to choose between watching a favorite show, and engaging with a child, we need to ask ourselves which choice will bring long term happiness. Though both activities are sure to bring pleasure, only one will bring long term joy and help us live a happier life.
A Moment of Self-Acceptance
Be kind to yourself. We’re all trying hard to do our best, and often times, we feel we fall short. However, by remembering things we do well, or accepting ourselves despite shortcomings, we can collect small moments that build to an overall attitude of self-acceptance.
Once able to accept ourselves, we’ll be able to better accept and respond to other people. Instead of fretting about the things that aren’t done, or that other people haven’t done, we’ll focus more on what matters most – building those around us.
It’s okay to have a bad day. It’s okay to feel sad. Embracing emotions helps us accept ourselves and work through difficult times. The key is to work through those emotions, not drown in them. Accepting ourselves means overcoming negative moments so we can better embrace the positive ones.
A Moment for You
This last step is a gift to yourself. Do that small thing you’ve been meaning to do. Often, we push back what we want in order to accomplish what needs to be done. Take a small moment to treat yourself, whether it’s working on your favorite craft, investing in that bird feeder, or giving an old friend a call. Cutting back on your subconscious wish list will help you feel accomplished, and that special gift to yourself reminds you that you really do matter.
How do you collect small moments?