Here's a challenge: When was the last time you were able to count every single thing that made you happy in one day? It may sound easy, but chances are if you wrote them all down, you'd still be missing some.
We know that taking stock of what we're thankful for can make us more joyful -- but there are ordinary things that happen each day that we may not even think of as noteworthy for our gratitude list. If we slow down, we may actually notice the things that really make us happy. Read on to discover eight things that we should be cherishing more often.
A good conversation.
The old-fashioned heart-to-heart -- a deep conversation where listening is practiced just as much as talking -- is a lost art these days. Too often we're bogged down by small talk, despite the fact that a lot of us are averse to it. Try asking the bigger questions the next time you find yourself in conversation with a close friend -- and appreciate the bonding time that comes as a result.
A big hug.
We tend to shrug hugs off as soon as they happen -- but those embraces have a multitude of feel-good benefits that we should take the time to enjoy. Hugs release oxytocin in the body, the happy hormone in charge of creating those warm and fuzzy feelings. Studies have shown hugs can also lower blood pressure and promote heart health.
Authenticity is a coveted characteristic, but one that's often overlooked. It's best to appreciate when someone shows you their true nature. You can either learn from what they have to say or learn why your personalities aren't the best fit.
Being genuine also allows us (and others) to share thoughts with the world, which can lead to greater meaning. "When you have thought through what you think, what you feel, what's important to you and why it's important to you, that determines a certain sense of purpose and directive," clinical psychologist Guy Winch, Ph.D., previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. "We all have these operational directives -- we just don't necessarily articulate them to ourselves. But if we look back on our behavior and examine what we do, why we do it, what we think, why we think it, we can figure out the principles that are driving us."
Hear us out: Sure, our rides may be long, traffic may be bumper-to-bumper and public transit may not give you an inch of room, but there are some perks. Our commutes offer ways to practice a little mindfulness meditation (which, as we well know, has some major benefits). Commuting also creates an opportunity to talk to or smile at a stranger, which research suggests makes for a more positive experience. It's not the commute itself but what you do with it that has the power to make a difference in your day.
That feeling you get when you do the right thing.
It's no coincidence that you just feel better when you make a good moral decision. Studies show that helping others can make us happier overall, while other research suggests that guilt can make us feel physically weighed down. Relish in the relief you get when you act genuinely out of kindness -- your body is programmed for it.
"People feel better about themselves when they have close, supportive and encouraging people in their lives," Robert Rowney, D.O., a certified psychiatrist and the director of the Cleveland Clinic mood disorder unit, previously told HuffPost Healthy Living. Our best friends enhance our well-being in many ways, between their support, their honesty and their ability to see us through adversity. The intimate experiences we have (like those hilarious insiders that only you two understand) set these types of bonds apart from other relationships.
Sure, you're grateful for that beautiful sunset or that stunning beach view -- but are you recognizing the awe that scene can inspire? Psychological theories and studies suggest that indulging in the emotion could make you calmer and even has the potential to spark creativity. Next time you go to capture that cotton candy-colored sky for Instagram, cherish how it makes you feel.
Corny, but true. Self-criticism seems to come easier than self-praise -- and there's really no reason why it should be that way. Studies suggest that we don't practice enough self-appreciation, despite the fact that it's a quality that tends to boost our happiness. Give yourself a little pat on the back for everything you've accomplished -- you deserve it.
This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you're feeling off course.
GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others' stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing "secret weapons" that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.