Experiencing all the best little things

Looking for the joy in little things in life, such as daffodils  flowering, helps reset your GPSS...
Looking for the joy in little things in life, such as daffodils flowering, helps reset your GPSS (greater personal satisfaction system)PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES
Like many, I suspect, I found the speed of the latest nationwide lockdown a little bit disconcerting. Although I’ve known it was always on the cards, and there will likely be more in the future, I was just a little out of sorts for the first week. My routine was blown to bits.

As many people find without their usual work, their sense of who they are can get a bit lost. Maybe financial concerns start to bite. Not knowing how long we were to be in lockdown or even if we would still have a job can be absolutely distressing. What about our oldies and vulnerable whanau members — how will they cope? How will we school the children and do our own work from home?

Psychologically there’s quite a lot to be getting on with! I decided I needed to reset my GPSS ... greater personal satisfaction system. At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that has a particularly narcissistic ring to it, but it hasn’t — it really drops into the realm of self-care.

Looking after our own needs is important; as I often say, "you can’t run a car on an empty tank". It doesn’t mean getting what we want or doing what we want solely at the expense of others ... that would be selfish. It is OK, however, to make sure that there is something in your day that refuels you; that replenishes your energy levels, especially emotional and psychological.

Obviously during Level 3 and 4 lockdown we are a little restricted in what we can do. To help reset my GPSS, I chose to look for the joy in little things of life to boost my spirits and refuel my energy.

Walking the dog and seeing the utter pleasure in his chasing a simple stick made me smile, watching the daffodils bud and then flower was uplifting, weeding and digging the vege garden and stopping to watch the worms wriggle back under the soil with their rhythmical peristalsis was oddly captivating.

It’s so easy to find joy in the "big" things in life, the extraordinary, powerful, life-altering, I-can’t-breathe-this-is-so-great moments that get all the spotlight. They’re exhilarating. But these big, dramatic experiences in our lives shouldn’t get all the credit. What do we do when, for whatever reason, we are restricted in how we live? It’s time for the little moments to have their day in the sun, especially because, research shows, they may make us happier in the long run.

We are notorious for capturing everything — birthdays, graduations, weddings, babies, holidays through the lens of our phones. Our camera rolls are stocked with images from these "big" moments. However, new research published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that capturing the "small" ordinary experiences may actually bring us as much joy in the future as those breathtaking moments. So perhaps you might want to stop and notice the days at the office or the afternoon walks in the park, or the worms in your garden! They may bring us even more joy when we recall them in the future, and this seems to be particularly true as we age.

As one famous quote goes, "‘Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things". They're worth more than material possessions.

It’s been proven that once people can be assured of paying their bills money doesn’t buy "extra" happiness — experiences do. A long coffee with your best friend, a walk, reading a book; the simple things can all bring feelings of joy, relief and everything in-between. And that’s worth more than the fleeting happiness that comes with the swipe of a credit card.

I’m compiling a list of the simple things that bring me joy, refuel my tank and help me stay grounded for when we have another lockdown. What about you?

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.

Twitter:@jan—aitken

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