If there’s one thing that the lockdown has taught us, it’s that we should appreciate the small things. The sight of the Queen Anne lace frothing from the grass and encircling a mature pink chestnut just down the road from The Butterfly Loft was utterly magnificent. Watching the “lamb gang” play on our daily one-hour walk. Having the time to make proper tea (in a proper teapot) and sit in the garden with my husband, enjoying a Welsh Cake (“Just the one, Mrs Wembley!” Remember On the Up?)
Suddenly the small things were in high focus – and it’s surprising how many little jewels there are in our day to day lives. In normal times we usually fail to notice them, or simply take them for granted. But these little things have a huge impact on our lives. That’s why we should learn to recognise their value.
There’s a quote (variously attributed to Robert Braul or Kurt Vonnegut) which is: “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realise they were the big things.” Whichever of them it was, the sentiment is spot-on.
How can we make sure we enjoy the small things?
- Look for beauty – whether it please the eye, the ear, the sense of smell or taste or of touch. Look through your child (or grand child’s eyes) at the world around you and be amazed. Marvel at the striped petunias spilling out of the window box, at the sight of a butterfly, perched on a flower. Stop to smell the roses (I cannot go past a rose bush that overhangs a garden fence without smelling the perfume).
- If you were with your family or friends during the lockdown, it might have tried your patience. We found that the more relaxed time we spent together enabled us to chat more and share more jokes. The silliest conversations set us off laughing. Even now, one of us only has to say “false teeth …” (I’m not going to try to explain) and we both collapse into uncontrollable giggles. Heavens knows what our neighbours thought ….
- Try to turn off the “comparative mind.” Social media can make you happy. There’s also evidence it can make you very unhappy if you allow yourself to be swept away by negative comparisons. When we begin to compare ourselves or our lives to others or to the image others present, we can quickly lose our appreciation for what we have. The illusion or actuality of what others might have can seem depressing or daunting if we focus on it rather than on the real beauty we have within our own lives. So, if ‘the voice of toxic comparison’ begins to rear its head, ask it gently to go away and replace the toxic voice with a few words of self-appreciation.
- Make yourself a gratitude jar. The concept of a gratitude jar is a fun, visual twist on an old classic: Put a clear glass jar or cup on the counter in plain sight. Whenever a negative thought arises, think of a positive thought—whether it comes in the form of a poem, word, phrase, or image. Then write down the positive thought and place it in the jar. Add to the jar anytime you have a random positive thought or idea cross your mind or your path (e.g., reading a magazine and discovering an amazing quote). The bonus: When you’re feeling low select one or two to read—and your state of mind will often feel a wonderful boost.”
- Take the time to be grateful for the little things in your daily world. That means actively acknowledging the effort it took to make one little thing. For example, you might be enjoying a delicious apple. Eat it slowly, savouring its taste and appreciate all the work involved in creating the apple, from planting to growing and harvesting. The slow approach” allows us to be grateful for things we take for granted. And it’s easy to take things for granted, especially for basic things like the food we eat to the air we breathe.
Live in and enjoy the moment. Our lives are created by millions of small “now” moments all strung together. You are alive, you are breathing, most likely at this very moment you are safe, and those are just the basics. We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful. There’s opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that’s what life is all about.
Simple pleasures The Butterfly Loft loves
- Climbing into a bed with freshly washed sheets
- Driving with your windows down
- Reading a novel in the bath with a glass of wine nearby
- Taking the first bite of a decadent dessert
- Visiting a traditional market
- Popping bubble wrap
- Listening to classical music
- Walking through crunchy autumn leaves
- Holding hands with a loved one
- Seeing flowers beginning to bloom on a spring day
- Dining by candlelight
- Having a relaxing shower after a long day
- Having the feeling of accomplishment after finishing a big project
- Enjoying a home cooked meal around a table with your family
- Watching squirrels or birds chase each other
- Seeing a stunning sunset
- Reading a book that resonates with you
- Watching your seedlings come up
- Taking that first glorious sip of coffee or tea in the morning
- Getting a waft of the scent of lilac or an old-fashioned rose
- Hearing your favourite song comes on the radio
- Taking a long walk in the countryside
- Sleeping in on a rainy day
- Eating cold hard-boiled eggs
- Dancing without a care in the world
- Receiving an unexpected compliment
- Sinking into a long, hot bubble bath
- Having a sunny day
- Laughing until you cry