Finding joy might seem like it’s impossible at the moment, but honestly, there is joy in the little things, and here’s how to find it.
The journey from abuse, trauma, and grief is like traveling along a dark road full of twists, turns, and potholes. You might be navigating anxiety, depression, low mood, despair, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, self-sabotage, and your life might have been thrown into complete turmoil.
But, and I know this is a big but, there is a way off this road and on to a calmer, brighter path.
Positive psychology is a fairly new branch of psychology and it looks at how we can be mentally well, rather than just looking at what’s wrong.
Research shows that there are two major ways of finding and appreciating the little things in life that help bring us more joy and give us a more positive outlook.
These two self-help strategies help build happiness, inner strength, and wellbeing.
Savouring the moment is the ability to tune into the experience you are having, recognising and appreciating the small things that make it a good moment in time.
It’s about getting the maximum enjoyment out of what you are doing at that very moment.
Savouring helps to build positive emotions. And similarly to enjoying the taste of food as you savour it in your mouth, in positive psychology, savouring is about appreciating the best emotion that an experience offers you.
In reality, savouring could look like seeing the beauty of a tree outside as you wait for the kettle to boil, and feeling thankful for whoever planted it all those years ago. Or, enjoying the feeling of fresh sheets on the bed as you climb into it. Or, hearing the laughter of children. Or, feeling the warmth of friendship as you hug a friend. Or enjoying the smell of freshly baked bread.
Savouring can involve any of the senses; sight, smell, touch, taste, or listening, and is about amplifying the goodness in that moment. Almost slowing down time, or pressing pause to really enjoy that experience.
Our brains are often wired to look for what’s bad in a situation, especially when we’re going through a difficult period, so savouring is a brilliant way to help you start and flick the switch to finding joy in little things.
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation, and it turns out that there is something in the old adage of ‘count your blessings’.
Being grateful for the small things is the key to switching your mindset from deprivation and lack, to abundance and appreciation.
A practice of gratitude literally trains your brain to see the glass as half full instead of half empty.
The easiest way to do gratitude is simply to keep a journal or notebook and ask yourself either “What is good in my life?” or “What went well?”
For instance, you could choose to journal in the morning and write down 3 things you are grateful for right now in this moment. Your answer doesn’t need to be anything big, it could be that you are grateful for the rain that came overnight and watered your garden, or that you are grateful for the warm cup of coffee you’re drinking.
Alternatively, you could choose to journal at night and just jot down what went well that day, again it can be the smallest of things. This is also a great question to ask children when you sit down to eat together at the end of the day, or as you put them to bed. It’s never too early to get children to practice gratitude!
Developing an attitude of gratitude has many advantages for wellbeing. Research has shown that it’s associated with increased happiness, optimism, hope, empathy, and forgiveness, plus it boosts self-esteem. It’s also linked to decreased depression, loneliness, anxiety, and feelings of envy, as well as enabling people to cope better with distressing situations.
Sometimes losing something important to us, such as a loved one, our health, or a job, can help us feel grateful for the other things we have, such as the other important people in our life. And practicing gratitude regularly can help us focus on what’s good, rather than ruminate on what’s not, so helps us reframe things in a more positive light.
Practicing these positive psychology techniques is a really good compliment to professional counselling, and can be beneficial to your overall mental health and wellbeing.
Finding joy in the little things is going to help you start changing your thoughts from negative to positive.
For more support, I offer psychotherapeutic counselling, where you can explore your emotions and thinking patterns in a confidential setting, allowing you to offload what you need to, and move forward to a more joyful life.
Contact me today to book a counselling session.