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It’s the Little Things That Lead to Happiness

let it go butterfly freeWhat’s the best part of your day?

For me, it’s waking up early and having coffee on my porch as I watch the sun rise. There’s just something calming about this little morning ritual. I never miss it, it’s truly one of the highlights of my day.

Of course there are other things that can brighten your mood during the course of your day that you might not think so much about. These are things like a nice smile from someone on the street, a simple question from a caring stranger, a hot shower or a kind and caring attitude from one of the scores of different people you deal with during the day.

My point here, if you can’t already tell is that it’s little things, and little rituals like this that can have a positive effect on your attitude and lead to happiness.

Harvard professor Francesca Gino was quoted in Time Magazine this week saying “You can think about rituals that you yourself might engage in prior to consumption experiences. What they do, they make us a little bit more mindful about the consumption experience that we are about to have. Because of that, we end up savoring the food or whatever we are drinking more, we enjoy the experience more, and in fact, we’re also more willing to pay higher prices for whatever it is that we just consumed. Once again, rituals are beneficial in the sense that they create higher levels of enjoyment in the experience that we just had.

In essence, when you are fully conscious of the experience you’re taking part in, you recognize the little nuances, the flavors and the feelings you’re getting from it, and that leads to enjoyment.

We all have things we’d rather not do, work, chores, that kind of stuff, but when we take these little moments to ourselves it’s like a little vacation in the middle of the day. It can boost energy and give us a feeling of contentment that can carry over to other parts of our life.

These little moments of contentment are important for us to feel grounded and to be able to feel like we can take on the world.

Having lived with schizophrenia for years, this didn’t occur to me all at once. It came over a long period of time as I slowly found myself in more and more of a routine. Essentially I have the things that I do on a day-to-day basis that provide me with a level of contentment, and that’s important for anyone. Especially those who are having a hard time.

It’s not just rituals or happy circumstances either. The little things I’m talking about can extend to relationships as well. Having the support of your family, having friends you see on a regular basis, even deeper, the inside jokes and the experiences you’ve had together. These little things can provide a foundation for happiness and it’s important to be conscious of when these good things happen.

Say you’ve had a hard day at work, when you come home, the only thing you want to do is crash, as you walk in the door there’s a note from your partner, when you open it all it says is “Just wanted to say I love you.” That’s just one example of a little thing that can make all the difference.

All said, the little things matter. Even if they don’t seem like it at the time.

It’s the Little Things That Lead to Happiness

Michael Hedrick

Mike Hedrick is a writer and photographer in Boulder, CO. He has lived with schizophrenia for many years and his work has been published in Salon, Scientific American and The New York Times. His book is available here You can follow his blog on living with schizophrenia here

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2018). It’s the Little Things That Lead to Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 5 Sep 2014)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.