Finding Fulfillment in the Little Things

Depending on where you live in the world and the current rate of vaccination and COVID-19 cases, life may be opening up again and providing more opportunities to engage with others.  But even if much of your time is still being spent at home, there are small shifts in perception and lifestyle choices that can help people transition from a state of languishing to flourishing and fulfillment, terms that we are more familiar within the wake of more than a year of social isolation.

According to a recent New York Times article, there are specific steps researchers have found that can help people thrive.  Feeling good again is not only about overall happiness, to truly flourish people also need to feel a sense of purpose, meaning, and fulfillment in their daily lives.  By making small positive changes and celebrating even the tiniest of wins – a trip to the garden center or lunch outside on a patio, we begin to see the joy in life again. 

Treating yourself to something pleasurable and noticing the sweet little things in life helps recharge one’s capacity for happiness.  By mindfully acknowledging all the things we have that we are grateful for, it’s easier to view life as a gift rather than a burden and as a result, quality of life soars and feelings of fulfillment abound. 

Researchers have found that volunteering also increases well-being.  Doing something kind for someone else makes people feel happy and valuable.  It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Maybe your act of kindness is taking the time to talk to a neighbor or writing a note to a friend going through a tough time.  People crave connection with others, and by making time to interact with others, we feel more a part of our communities. 

Although it might make your teenaged daughter cringe, saying hello to a stranger, offering a compliment, or chatting with the mail person can boost your mood and create a greater sense of belonging.   We have all been so distanced from one another, it may take a bit of effort and practice to be social and outgoing again, but the benefits will make it worth the effort.  

Learning a new skill is not only good for brain health among older adults, but small accomplishments help people feel more positive about themselves and their contribution.  It’s amazing how good it feels to finish even a simple quick project, like organizing the pantry or planting a small herb garden.  As circumstances allow for more in-person gatherings, it may be time to return to activities you once enjoyed or try something new.  Pickleball anyone?