It’s easy to feel like your cup runneth over with gratitude when things are going smoothly. Relishing a magical moment while on vacation or getting a raise at work definitely feels wonderful in the moment. But what about regular life? It can be a challenge to stay calm – much less zen – during the more mundane or chaotic periods of our day-to-day.  Especially when you have to take one last work call and everyone in your household suddenly needs you at that precise moment.


If one of your goals is facilitating a sense of well-being that extends beyond seminal events, there are things that can be done each day to increase feelings of contentment and meaning. Hint: it’s the small stuff!


  • Notice the little things around you. Yes, this can be challenging during the dinner rush. Especially when you’re trying to make dinner from a pantry that hasn’t been stocked in a while, one of your kids needs homework help right now, and the beloved family pet has decided to ignore the litter box and take care of business on your favorite rug (how do they manage to always pick the favorite?). Studies show that people who report the highest rates of happiness and well-being take the time to focus on the small things around them. Maybe it’s the way your child’s hair smells after playing outside, or how the light comes in through the windows at the end of the day. Take a few moments a day to literally smell the roses (or your kid’s head, if he’ll let you).
  • Give back. Well, no surprise here. We talk a lot about how volunteering feels good, and it’s true; giving of ourselves is a powerful way to increase happiness. Volunteering is also a great way to make new friends, learn new skills, advance your career, and even makes you healthier.
  • Write it down. Oprah was on to something back in the 90’s when she ordered us to suggested we keep a gratitude journal. The simple act of writing down just a few things each day for which you are grateful is proven to increase happiness. What I like most about this exercise is that it’s quick, and even on days where I struggle, I can always come up with a few things I’m consistently grateful for. Gratitude is a slippery slope; once you find that one thing, it’s easy to think of another, and so on. Don’t have a journal? Jot it down in your phone.
  • Be realistic. In other words, don’t expect to be happy all the time. Even as we focus on happiness and gratitude, if we ignore the truth that life is also difficult, that denial can impede our overall happiness. People who report the highest levels of happiness also accept setbacks as a part of their life journey.
  • Say I love you. Let the people around you know how you feel, even if it’s a simple thank you. It will make both of you feel good.
  • Limit your time on social media. Hey, we get it. We hope you’re reading this right now, and maybe even sharing it with your friends. But as with everything else, moderation is key. Especially with our devices. Using social media mindfully, with the intent to share and express positivity is one way to infuse meaning into your daily routine.


How about you? We’d be grateful if you shared what works for you. And before we forget, thank you for reading. We love our PlanHero readers!