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Why The Small Things In Life Are What Really Matter

Parents magazine

Stop right now, and think about the last time you really appreciated something. Was your mind so full of clutter that you couldn't live in the moment? Were you so busy multitasking that you didn't have time? Do you even remember how to slow down?

Each of us has a busy lifestyle packed full of work commitments, kids to drive to soccer practice, and never-ending stacks of dishes. It can be hard to stop thinking and just feel, but experts say it's important if we want to live an enjoyable life.


Linda Sapadin, a PhD in psychology, says the "little things" are what stick with you long-term. "They are what we will remember and appreciate when we reflect on days gone by. A little thing may be a fun evening with friends. It may be the joy of learning something new. It may be listening to the giggles of your kids."


Contrary to popular belief, the more you try to do, the less you'll enjoy any of it. In a society that values productivity over everything else, it can be tough to follow the cliche and "stop to smell the roses."

Have you ever asked someone the secret to their happiness? They probably won't tell you about their car, their designer wardrobe, or all the trips they've been on. Research shows that the things that make us the most happy are actually quite simple.

Here are the top 5 things that make us happy:

1. Spending Time with Family and Friends

According to statistics, 56% of people say that close relationships with others make them the most happy. By nature, we are social creatures and need to connect with people closest to us. Not only does quality time with others help each of us grow as a person, but it also fills the need to express ourselves.


2. A Smile from Someone

It may not mean much in the moment, but simply being nice to someone has a big impact. Just a smile, a compliment, or a few words of encouragement is significant enough to fill our love tank. In fact, 27% of people said this was important.


3. Talking a Walk Outside

Spending just a few minutes in nature can reduce stress levels, lower blood pressure, and relax muscle tension. In addition, gardening and exposure to chemicals in soil can lower the risk of depression. Get outside, people!


4. Helping Someone Else

Although it's nice to have people do things for us, nothing compares to the happiness we get from helping someone. If you have time, volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen, sing Christmas carols at a retirement home, or offer to pay for someone else's groceries.


5. Getting a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep is essential for physical and mental well-being. It improves memory, improves mental focus, and helps you stay at a healthy weight. About 24% of people reported that enough sleep made them happier.


If appreciating the small things is one step towards a better life, you need to begin now!

Continue to the next page to find 25 small things to enjoy.

Practicing enjoyment of little things will help you be more focused, self-aware, and happy. Start to do only one thing at once, and you'll be surprised how fast your mindset will change.


Which of these things do you enjoy most?

1. Listening to the sound of a waterfall.

2. Walking barefoot on the grass.

3. Enjoying a meal without the TV on.

4. Having a hot bath.

5. Savoring your coffee instead of drinking in a rush.

6. Smelling a beautiful flower.

7. Lighting a candle just for yourself.

8. Reading a book on the patio.

9. Watching the sunrise.

10. Listening to the birds sing in the early morning.

11. Having a nap on a beach and falling asleep to the sound of waves.

12. Making chocolate chip cookies.

13. Watching a child's face on Christmas morning.

14. Being greeted by your pet when you come home.

15. Baking a loaf of bread just for the smell.

16. Jumping into a pool on a hot day.

17. Singing in the shower

18. Popping bubble wrap.

19. Jumping in a pile of leaves.

20. Watching your son/daughter score the game-winning goal.

21. Getting a good haircut.

22. The sound of thunder.

23. Wearing sandals after a long winter.

24. Wrapping yourself in a towel still warm from the dryer.

25. Looking at the stars on a clear night.

"Enjoy the little things in life because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things." - Kurt Vonnegut Jr.