When is the last time you really slowed down to enjoy life? For me, it doesn’t happen often enough. Like most people, I’m good about celebrating the big things in life. But when it comes to the small moments? Sometimes it feels like I miss them completely! I’ve been on a mission to slow myself down and practice showing a little more appreciation for the small things. In fact, this entire blog is an effort to learn how to enjoy the little things!
So today, let’s get specific. I’m going to explore 10 simple things that I do to help me enjoy my everyday life a bit more. It can be really easy to feel like everyone is doing better than you are – and social media certainly doesn’t help! But, taking the time to pause and recognize where you are and what you have, it can make a big difference.
10 Ways to Enjoy the Little Things
1. Use a Gratitude Journal
A few months ago, I committed to writing in a gratitude journal every day. It takes about 5 minutes for me to sit down and write out three things that I’m grateful for that morning. Some days I write down big, broad things (“I’m so grateful for my family!”). Sometimes it’s a little more granular (“Crumbl cookies!”). I try to be as specific as I can muster, and I force myself to do it even on days when it feels extra hard.
Writing in a gratitude journal has really helped me slow down and focus on the present moment. Even when I feel like everything is falling apart, it reminds me that I have plenty of blessings to be grateful for. It’s a 5-minute habit that I can’t recommend enough.
2. Move Your Body – Outside Preferably
I know we all know this, but exercise is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mental state. It helps with your physical health, obviously, but it also helps with depression, anxiety, your mood, and more.
When I’m feeling anxious or down, I always know a little bit of movement will work wonders. I’m big on running, and I lift weights twice a week, but a simple walk is all you really need! Bonus points if you can arrange it around the sunrise or sunset, so you can really appreciate the beauty.
3. Connect With Someone You Love
When is the last time you called your mom just to chat? Or sent off a few text messages filled with compliments to your closest friends? When I take a moment to make a few simple phone calls to the people I love, I always find that I end it in a much better mood.
If you aren’t much for the phone (I get it!) try some intentional connection with someone in person. Give a longer-than-normal hug to your partner or kid. Spend a few minutes dancing together in the kitchen. Heck, if you can’t muster a good conversation, snuggle up and take a nap with your partner! The point is to actively seek out connection in whatever way makes you feel the most seen and loved.
4. Bake Something
There is something absolutely magical about taking the time to slow down and bake something special. I absolutely love finding new recipes to try – especially with my kids – and that first bite of something you made from scratch is always so special!
If you find that cooking with your kids is stressful (it can be!), then kick everyone out or put them in front of a movie and do it alone. The more complex the recipe is, the more I can lose myself in it and really enjoy the time. Bonus points if you put in some headphones and enjoy some music or a good podcast.
5. Read a Good Book
There’s nothing like the power of getting lost in a great book for an hour or two. I find I enjoy it even more if I have an actual book, rather than reading on my phone. After I’ve spent a bit of time curled up in my favorite chair with a captivating book, I always feel so much more relaxed and present.
Not into books? You can substitute any hobby that occupies your mind a bit and feels relaxing. Painting, doing a puzzle, coloring…anything non-tech that you can get lost in for a bit.
6. Set Your Alarm 15 Minutes Early
Hear me out: I know we all love sleep. But, setting your alarm a few minutes earlier can give you some time to center yourself and get ready for the day. You can spend it in meditation, doing your gratitude journal, stretching, or just existing in your space without having to worry about anyone else.
If you create a habit of doing this daily, you’ll quickly find a routine that you’ll come to rely on! Whether it’s making your morning coffee at a really leisurely pace, spending 15 minutes with a book, or just taking an extra long shower – it’ll make a difference!
7. Do Something Fun, Intentionally
This one might sound obvious, but I think sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day that we don’t have intentional fun. Sure, we have fun moments but we’re often so busy we don’t recognize it. Try setting out to laugh with your family, and then do something to make it happen.
A few ideas?
- Play a game together
- Go out for ice cream
- Have a Nerf gun fight
- Play in the sprinklers
- Go see a movie, and get extra candy and popcorn
- Jump in a pile of leaves
- Go roller blading
You get the idea. The key is to slow down and be present in every moment of it! You’ll find there is so much joy in the simple pleasures of life when you take the time to notice your kids’ excitement or roll the windows down and feel the breeze!
8. Do Something Kind
It feels so good to do something nice for someone else. I love to drop off a Sonic drink to my best friend, give a compliment to a stranger, or go spend some time helping at my kid’s school. It’s a great reminder to focus on things outside of myself, and it always makes me feel fantastic.
An even better idea is to do something kind for someone as a family. Taking your kids out to volunteer or do something kind for a friend sets a beautiful example. Plus, you’ll get even more feel-good endorphins watching your kids doing things for others!
9. Put Down Your Phone
If I had to pick one thing that makes the biggest difference in my ability to really enjoy the little things in my day, it would be this. When I set my phone down for an extended period of time, I find that I become so much more present.
This is one of those things that really has to be a habit in order to make the biggest difference. I often turn on the “downtime” setting on my phone so it reminds me every day. Then, if I try to open up any apps other than the very basics, it reminds me that I shouldn’t be on my phone. You don’t realize how much you unconsciously reach for it until you do something like this! Over time, it becomes easier and easier, and I find myself really soaking up every second with the kids.
10. Start a New Tradition
And finally, there’s nothing like a good tradition to help me really enjoy the little things and moments in my day. It doesn’t have to be big – we take our kids out for slushes and snacks at the corner gas station every Friday after school. We try to bake as a family every weekend. On Wednesday evenings, we have a family movie night. It’s not fancy, but the rhythm and routine feels so special.
Think about a simple weekly tradition you could try out with you family and commit to making it happen for at least a month. Make it a big deal to your kids (even if it’s tiny like going to the gas station) and you’ll find that their excitement will quickly rub off on you!
And that’s that. Ten super simple ways to evoke some positive emotions, slow down, appreciate the little moments, and bring some more laughter and joy to your days.
I’d love to hear your ideas too! Drop them in the comments below.