Following hot on the heels of Valentine’s Day, we have Mother’s Day this weekend, another in the long list of commercially engineered days when we are instructed to buy cards, gifts and tell our loved ones how much we love them. Now, if anyone should be having a designated celebration day it is Mum. That is not sarcasm, they give birth to us all, giving up their bodies in the process, they continue to nurture us long after it is necessary.....they are truly the most deserving.
Do you feel pressured on occasions like this to bestow lavish gifts on mums, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, dads or husbands? Are you an abstainer, opting out of any commercialisation of your emotions? Or are you somewhere between the two?
There’s little doubt that we are all aware, in some sense of the pressure to buy presents for others on these occasions but it might be worth considering whether these are truly appreciated. Would you be happy to receive an expensive gift from a loved one?........Of course you would! Who wouldn’t want that new car, or expensive vacation?!!
However, a survey back in 2014 by Double Tree highlighted the effect small gestures have on us, suggesting in fact that it’s the little things that make us happiest! I will avert the flood of mocking comments by conceding that there won’t be many (or any!) out there who would swap an exotic holiday for a passing compliment from a stranger! Nonetheless, we could all benefit from an increased awareness of the positive effect we can have on others and ourselves by performing small but regular, acts of kindness and selflessness.
The survey results are below with the top 20 list of little things that make people happy or the “Little Things Index”:
1.Finding a fiver in your jeans pocket
2.The sun shining
3.Heading to the till and finding out the item you picked up has been further reduced
4.Getting into bed with fresh sheets
5.Getting something for free
6.Performing a random act of kindness
7.Booking a holiday
8.A compliment from a stranger
9.Favourite song comes on the radio
10.Completing a long list of jobs
12.Looking at old photographs
13.Your car passing its MOT
14.Driving through a crowded car park and finding yourself behind someone in the first spot who is just leaving
15.A cup of tea and a cookie
16.Making plans with an old friend who you haven't seen in a long time
17.A slice of cake
19.Someone making you a drink
20.Receiving praise from your colleague or boss
As you can see, many on the list are not even acts of kindness, they may be as simple as (no. 2) the sun shining.
Most would agree that we want to do as much as possible to make us feel happy……..we all want to feel happy right? Maybe it’s about time we spent more time identifying the little things that are personal to us, and make us feel happy. My guess is that you would be surprised how dramatically you can increase your happiness and sense of well-being by ensuring you enjoy a few simple pleasures in life………….or your own personal “little things index”
Then there is the effect on the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness. According to the research, pleasant surprises provide us with the greatest moments of happiness with 82% saying the best things in life are those you don't expect. It seems that the less we are expecting something, the more profound the benefit derived from it, so we can have a huge impact on other people’s happiness by randomly surprising them with little gestures…..which in turn can trigger our own happiness…….win/win!!
Referring to the “Little Things Index”, Dr Glenn Williams, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Nottingham Trent University said: "It's vital for our health and well-being to experience positive emotions on a regular basis. As this research shows, an effective route to happiness is not necessarily through experiencing major events that we might have planned out such as getting married, moving house, getting that all-important promotion, or even being on a holiday. Rather it is the small, and often unexpected, pleasures in life that can make us smile each and every day to help us build happier and more meaningful lives for ourselves and for others.
Why not sit down and write your own “Little Things Index”? It might just make the world for you and others, a happier place.
.......I would but I need to rush out and buy some last minute Mother’s Day gifts!!
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