Research suggests taking time to notice the little things can benefit both physical and mental health. So, how can we find happiness in ordinary, everyday moments?

‘Microjoys’ are those small pockets of joy found within the everyday and ordinary aspects of life, often overlooked or taken for granted. This could be your first cup of tea in the morning, an unexpected smile from a stranger, or the satisfaction of crossing off an item on your to-do list. They may seem insignificant, but individually, they have the power to uplift our mood significantly.

Research suggests that appreciating these fleeting moments of happiness, known as 'microjoys', has been shown to have physical and mental health benefits, boosting the immune system and reducing stress. Some experts even note it could help us to live longer.

According to The Conversation, seeking out small moments of positivity in our day can lead to physical changes in the body, including within the nervous system. “Microjoys can play a role in helping us to avoid the negative health effects of chronic stress, such as high blood pressure, digestive issues and hormonal disruption. They can also lead to positivity resonance – a “momentary connection between people” that can improve health, increase lifespan and help to give our lives meaning.

How can we practise finding joy in everyday moments?

Practise gratitude. You don’t have to wait for grand gestures or huge accomplishments to practise gratitude. Start by noticing the little things surrounding you each day that bring you joy. This could be the warmth of the sun on your skin, the sound of birds chirping, the taste of a favourite food, or the smell of fresh flowers. In his article 'Simple tips to improve happiness', Counsellor Raye Cruise notes, “One essential tip for finding joy in your day-to-day life is practising gratitude. By taking time each day to reflect on the things you're grateful for, whether big or small, you'll start to appreciate all the good things around you.”

Pay attention to how you feel. Pay attention to your emotions throughout the day, including how different activities or situations make you feel. Take note of when you find yourself smiling, energised, or feeling calm and relaxed. Does having a quiet moment to yourself with a cup of tea, enjoying a relaxing bath or chatting with family bring you joy and contentedness? By reflecting on these experiences, you'll gain a better understanding of what positively impacts your mood and wellbeing.

Keep a joy journal. Consider keeping a joy journal to note down any moments of happiness and what led to them. Over time, you’ll start to notice patterns that will help you identify your microjoys. Keeping track of these joyful moments can help to build emotional resilience, helping you bounce back from challenging situations more effectively.

Be open to new experiences. Embrace opportunities to try new things, this could be visiting unfamiliar places, taking on a new hobby or experimenting with different forms of creative expression, such as painting or dancing. By remaining open-minded you can discover little joys at unexpected moments and places. Pay attention to how these events make you feel, and allow yourself to be totally present in the moment.

Celebrate others' joy. Listening to what brings happiness to those around you can be another micro-act of joy. Begin with the people you truly care about, such as your partner, family, or close friends. Ask them specific questions such as, "What went well for you this week?" or "Tell me about your wins this week." By showing genuine interest in their joys and accomplishments, you not only deepen your connection but also contribute to their sense of being heard and valued, creating positive moments for both of you.

Create connections. Research suggests that when we’re kind to others, our brain’s pleasure and reward centres are activated. Acts of kindness such as practising active listening, offering a genuine compliment, or surprising a friend with their favourite treat can bring microjoys into everyday life. This not only helps make us feel more connected to those around us but also helps to improve our mood as we release endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) and reduce cortisol, the stress hormone.

Looking for microjoys doesn't mean ignoring life's challenges, or pretending they don't exist, but instead being present in moments of joy, no matter how small or fleeting they may seem.