Happiness in little things

le bonheur dans les petits riens

Positive thinking, happy messages on mugs, downloadable files, clothes, can these practices really increase our level of happiness?

Scientists have established that our brain leans more toward the negative than the positive. Concretely, it means that painful experiences are more easily remembered than pleasurable experiences. Or, in our close relationships, we generally need to count more positive interactions to compensate for a negative interaction, in a ratio of 5 to 1.

Think about it for a moment. At the end of your day, do you tend to think of the fifty little things that were good, or the thing that we did not do on your list, or the event that went wrong?

 It is as if the brain acted like a magnet to negative experiences, and positive experiences flowed like water on the feathers of a duck.

Discouraging? No, since there are solutions to restore balance and ensure that positive experiences accumulate in memory rather than slipping away for a moment.


Turn facts into positive experiences

A compliment received, a pile of bills paid on your to-do list, are ordinary, modest but real facts that can make a difference if you realize it. These are positive elements that can open you to the positive feeling they inspire you. The goal here is not only to know that something positive has happened, but to feel it. To make sure you are touched by a positive emotion is to make this moment count for you. Joy, pride, gratitude, love, etc. Saying a few of these small pleasures before falling asleep, while your brain is particularly receptive to learning, is a good way

To immerse oneself longer

Small pleasures are often very modest and it is correct as well. One way to taste them more is to prolong the moment. That is to say, rather than quickly distract yourself from something else, to extend the moment of ten, twenty, even thirty seconds, to absorb you in the positive experience. The longer it lasts in your consciousness, the more emotionally stimulating it is. And the more it will leave its mark in your memory!

Use your senses

We have five wonderful senses to help us feel the experiences. What do you feel when you live small pleasures? The comfort of a gentle warmth like the feeling when you drink hot chocolate? The feeling that your solar plexus relaxes, lights up? The smile that comes to the lips while reading an inspiring thought? There are different ways to feel what your senses are capturing in ways that make the positive experience more memorable. Without pressure, have fun, just explore, discover, vary these! 


I invite you, the next time you become aware of the happiness in small things, to think of these words you just read. To pause for a moment, to feel what this joyful message on your shirt makes you feel. Or how can this guide your day? Taste your tea differently, with an inspiring quote on your cup. I bet your day will be better, filled with these little things that can change your life.


[1] Baumeister, R., E. Bratlavsky, C. Finkenauer et K. Vohs. 2001. «Bad is stronger than good». Review of general psychology 5; 323-370.

Tania Boucher