You have all heard this idiom, but have you ever really sat down and thought about its’ meaning? It basically means BE PRESENT in your life. EXPERIENCE each and every moment. Don’t take ANYTHING for granted. It is a fabulous depression hack, because if you enjoy the little things in life instead of just the good times, the milestones and victories, there is much more to be happy about. If you consider each day, each moment, each and every breath to be a gift, you will have an appreciation for so much more in life, including hard times. So . . . how do you put this into practice? Two answers: TIME and FOCUS.
The best way to be able to enjoy the little things in life is to focus on them and give yourself time to enjoy them. Focusing is what we mean when we say, “be present.” When you are driving for example, take a moment to feel the movement of the car beneath you. Think about the fact that you are seated, comfortable and still, yet are moving 45 mph down the road. It’s really quite incredible.
Another example of being present and experiencing each little moment is to focus on speaking. Sit silently and think of something you want to say. Be conscious of your brain signaling to your lips to move as your lungs push air past your vocal cords vibrating them into audible words. How cool is that?
We know you can’t sit around and contemplate every moment of your life. You have things to do, places to go and people to see. However, if you try to give yourself just a little more time each day to focus on your life and “stop and smell the flowers” (we promise no more idioms), you will benefit from this depression hack. Here’s another real-life example from Chapter 8 “Time” in our book Dealing With Depression On Your Own Couch; A Neuropsychologist’s Practical Guide.
“You can keep time on your side if you plan ahead, and the benefits are clear. Take this example. I saw two young mothers walking into the grocery store the other day. I don’t know what their situations were, but their similarities and stark differences caught my attention. Both were about the same age, same ethnicity, and looked to be in the same social strata. They were each holding the hand of a child who looked to be about 3-years-old. One woman gripped her child’s hand tightly, practically pulling him along at a pace that was obviously too fast for the child to keep up. She furrowed her brow and angrily chided the boy for dragging his feet as something caught his attention on the ground. She quipped, “Come on. Let’s go,” and entered the store.
The other woman loosely held onto her little boy’s hand, walking at his slow pace, with a pleasant smile on her lips. The boy stopped and bent down to look at a caterpillar inching across the doorway of the store. She patiently stood there as her son made sure the woolly caterpillar made it by safely. The woman then gently said, “OK. Come on. Let’s go,” and entered the store.
As I said, I have no idea what their situations were, but if the first woman was not rushed, perhaps she would have shown the same respect for her child as the second woman. The opposite could be true as well. If the second woman had not scheduled herself so as not to have to rush through her shopping trip, she may have not been able to take the time to appease her child, and the two women’s’ reactions would have been reversed. Whatever the case, it is clear that a special moment shared with your child is preferable to a negative, angry encounter.”
Can you see how just a few seconds of time and focus can have a great impact on your life? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to have more things to enjoy in life? Of course it would, and you can! There is so much to enjoy. As we mentioned earlier, even the hard times can be appreciated.
When you are sad or angry, feel those emotions and really experience them. Acknowledge your pain, hurt, or anger, and let those feelings come and pass right through you. Focus on the feeling of your muscles clenching, your hot tears forming and your blood pressure rising, but be sure to guard your reactions. Focus on how you can best deal with the tough situation and know you are well equipped to do so. “This too shall pass” (so sorry we just had to use one more).
You can do it. Just try. Write yourself a little note, find a pretty plaque or even a bookmark to remind you to enjoy the little things in life.