Relishing the small things
The psychological perks that can come from taking time to stop and smell the roses
WHETHER it’s a smile from a stranger, your child helping with the chores, or your dog’s bounding joy when you get home, the little things in life can have a significant impact on your happiness and wellbeing.
In a study by the University of Queensland, older people who focused on positive information were found to have stronger immune systems, while a systematic review by Harvard Health found a link between psychological wellbeing and cardiovascular health.
According to clinical psychologist Janet Hall, endless to-do lists can blind people to happy moments.
“We discount how much joy the little things can bring us and our loved ones,” Dr Hall said.
“Just think about how much joy you give your dog when you take it for a walk.”
Keeping a gratitude journal is a popular tool and, according to a joint research project through California and Miami universities, can have powerful results.
Participants in the study were asked to keep a journal, some of their daily hassles, others listing things they were grateful for.
After 10 weeks, those who focused on the positives were found to be 25 per cent happier and reported fewer health complaints than the negative group.
“We need to have rituals and routines which help us check in with the positives,” Dr Hall said.
She suggested making an effort to smile and compliment people, and pausing throughout the day.
“Look around and take a deep breath before moving on to the next task. It might be when you step out the front door or when you turn off the car,” she said.