Have you ever heard the phrase, “embrace the little things in life?” Yeah, I know, I thought it was boring too.
What floated through my mind when told to “find pleasure in small things” or “embrace the little things” or “find beauty in the mundane” were pictures of a gray, gloomy life devoid of almost every pleasure.
Stuck in a barren, boring, meaningless existence where big things, fancy things, and exciting things were frowned upon.
A bit dramatic, perhaps. But true all the same.
I have since come to believe that luxury, excitement, and pleasure are not only wonderful things that humans are meant to enjoy, but they are also attainable!
You see, as I write to you about embracing the small things that have massive impact, I’m not trying to convince you that mopping your kitchen is fun and exciting if you just try hard enough to believe it! (Hey, if you can do that, that’s super awesome! Keep at it!)
I’m telling you that it’s not impossible, even amidst all the mundane, for you to have extraordinary things in your life! You don’t have to do away with the boring to enjoy excitement! You don’t need tons of money to experience a sense of luxury. And you don’t need to change your entire life to experience more pleasure.
Throughout the next several weeks, I’m going to show you how I practice this in some specific areas of my life! Food, happiness, housework, day job, getting dressed in the morning, and so on!
For today, let’s focus on Happiness!
I’m going to stick to basic, everyday happiness for now. The way we live out any ol’ Tuesday!
What are some small things we can do in our normal, daily life that can make an enormous difference in how happy we feel that day?
First, my favorite one:
If you’re picturing Donna and Tom from the Office, running about town spending thousands of dollars and skipping work, hold on. Allow me to elaborate before you write me off as crazy.
I treat myself every day!
Interesting tidbit: did you know that there’s a difference between a reward and a treat? A reward is earned, and a treat is simply given - no strings attached. A treat can be anything if it invites feelings of luxury and pleasure!
Most of my treats are small, which is why it is 100% achievable to treat myself daily.
Here are some of the ways I treat myself:
A second cup of coffee
A bath mid-day, while my kids watch a movie
Deciding not to vacuum (that can be a treat if you let it be!)
Eating a small handful of dark chocolate-covered coffee beans
Taking the kids on a walk and making them sit in the stroller so I can put my headphones in and listen to a podcast
Changing my work plan for the day (I’m self-employed)
Sitting on the couch to type instead of at the table
Going to a coffee shop, alone, on a weekend
Some of these might not feel like treats to you, and that’s perfectly fine! What makes these small treats so effective is that they are highly personal to me. They bring a quick burst of pleasure into my day, which boosts my happiness, and helps me have a better day! We could all use better days, right?
It’s important to be honest with yourself about what makes you happy (and be okay with it). Otherwise, you’ll be greeted with disappointment, rather than a burst of pleasure, when you try one of these small tricks.
It’s also important to note that some of these treats are not practical to repeat every day.
I mean… skip the vacuuming? Every day? Gross. A treat ceases to be a treat if it’s abused and becomes a source of unhappiness.
Here are some additional ideas you might want to try for yourself!
Call a friend, just because!
Burn your favorite candle - for no other reason than to admire it!
Wear your favorite outfit on a “normal” day. You’re never wasting a good outfit if you’re enjoying it!
Take a break from your work and read a page of your favorite book
Say no to library story time this week
Spend an extra $5 on lunch and get the upgrade
Give some of these a try, or make up your own! Savor the pleasure! Again, these need to feel like treats to you!
Spend Some Time On Something YOU think matters
This is not the same as a treat, but sometimes it might feel similar. It will not always feel similar, though, so don’t get the two mixed up!
Something that matters to you could be getting yourself out in fresh air. It might be exercising. It might be reading a book to your kid. It might be listening to a podcast. It might be making sure the dishwasher is unloaded.
It could be any number of things! It doesn’t really matter what the specific thing is for you. What matters is that you experience the satisfaction of knowing you did something important each day.
Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to force ourselves to do certain things, isn’t it? Which is why the trick is to start with something small.
There is a time and a place for an overhaul. But overhauls do not happen every day, nor should they! Fortunately, even when you cannot do everything you want to do, you're not stuck unable to do anything. Allow yourself to take the small step. You will be so grateful you did!
I’m going to be perfectly honest and tell you that this is much more challenging for me than the “treat yourself” part. I have almost no problem treating myself, and I’m grateful for that! But this one… I’m here in the trenches with you!
Right now my thing is keeping my kitchen clean. I am constantly annoyed every day with the pile of dirty dishes I have to sift through before I can even cook dinner. And I’m really struggling to get myself to stay on top of the mess!
So you know what I did yesterday? I rinsed each dish I used (well, 97% of them…) and stacked them in one, designated area. May not seem like much, but goodness gracious, when the dishwasher was finally unloaded at the end of the day, I was so, so glad. That ended up being a huge energy saver, right there!
Your thing might be completely different.
Maybe you want more fresh air.
Can you step out the office door for 2 minutes and take some deep breaths? It’s not a hike in the woods, but it’s fresher air than inside!
Maybe you wish you read more. You might not be able to binge read like you did when you were a kid, but can you read 2 pages?
Go try reading those 2 pages, or snatching those 2 minutes, and tell me you don’t feel so much better afterwards!
Do Something Quick That Makes You Feel Better On The Inside
For me, this usually looks like putting on some makeup and a flat iron through my hair! I don’t actually enjoy the process - it’s kind of annoying, and boring! But holy cow does it make me feel so much better!
I can get it done in just a few minutes, but those few minutes make me feel like a new person! I feel ready to tackle the world. Ready to step out the door at a moment’s notice. Ready for almost anything, really!
That matters to me!
Such a small thing, but such a huge impact!
Maybe you don’t care about makeup though. What does make you feel better on the inside? Something that only takes a few minutes, or even better - a few moments?
Here are some ideas:
Take a shower
Do a few stretches
Meditate for a couple of minutes
Chat with a friend for a bit
Smile at the cashier when you grab your coffee, and wish them a good day
Drink some water
Try some of these out, or experiment with your own! It’s incredible how much impact just a few minutes, or even a few seconds, can make on your overall happiness throughout the day.
I’m not telling you to “just be fine with boring things!” (Contentment is a good thing, don’t get me wrong!) I’m telling you that you can experience more happiness than you think, and it’s not always as hard to reach as it seems!
Keep your eyes open, scanning the horizon for pockets of luxurious pleasure that are right in front of you! And snatch them up. They’re meant for you!
Which of these things stood out to you the most? Leave a comment and let me know, so I can make sure I’m talking about the most impactful things for you!