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Finding Happiness in the Little Good Things

Updated on January 2, 2011

Some of us wait for big things to happen - to give us inspiration, to give us motivation, to give us passion. But inspiration, motivation and passion are around us all the time, wrapped up in the little good things that happen.

This article started through listening to a conversation that began with 'what would you do if you won the lottery?'Apparently that week the lottery fund was a 95 million euro's and people were expressing all different ideas of what they would do. A whole other article could be written on the concept of happiness and money but that's something for another day. What stuck in my mind was that after I'd thought of buying a couple of properties, some music equipment and making sure my friends were comfortable, there was little else I actually wanted that I could purchase. I would still just want to write, sing and practice astrology. Listening to the chatter of dreams around me, I began to focus in on those little things that make me happy and how I have often disregarded them. Thinking of those made me consider what truly inspires me to write and what makes me feel uniquely myself.

The harsh things that life can throw at us are often overwhelming. Their effect can be all consuming so that everything else becomes lost in the midst. I once flicked through an old diary and saw I had angrily written "I have not had enough big good things to outweigh the big bad things!".

I began to think about what are the good things? It is so easy to name and shame the difficult times: to say I'm sad because this or that happened. Each dramatic loss in my life is sharply in contrast compared to the blurred memories of happier moments. I pondered how to bring those moments into focus. It occured to me that some part of me is always noticing; it comes out in writing, music and lyrics. Often when I am writing lyrics I know things are going to fall in place when I can clearly see an image in my mind as I write. This image may be of the smallest detail. One particularly bad day when I thought I could think of nothing other than what had happened, some part of me watched a spider in the corner of my room building a web, weaving quietly for hours, resting and weaving again. Some months later that image came back to me in great clarity as I wrote a song. Through all the devastation I had noticed creation in the making.

In times when the past is horrific and the future is just too terrible to contemplate, it is these tiny moments that count. I've always thought that it is the big things that will become songs one day but when I look back to what I have actually written, it is the details that bring out the quality of feeling. The quiet space between unspoken words, the sound of an aeroplane as my lover leaves, a leaf creeping through the window as someone moves from this world to the next, the fall of a shawl, a shadow on the wall. It's a kind look from a friend, a gentle caress in a crowded street, a long look into my lover's eyes, an elderly woman feeding the birds on a sunday afternoon, the clock ticking and ticking and ticking...

Some of us wait for big things to happen - to give us inspiration, to give us motivation, to give us passion. But inspiration, motivation and passion are around us all the time, wrapped up in the little good things that happen.

Whilst those 'big good things' are seen played out in many a movie: the big love, the big win, the big wedding, the big house, the big life; our own lives are filled with a myriad of smaller and sometimes tiny things that each give a moment of pleasure. If we truly counted, truly noticed those moments what would life be? What would live become? How much more would we play, paint or write if we allowed ourselves to be present in the moment? Just before you swat that fly do you notice the tiny lace-like wings, the irridescent blue green of it's body? Do you marvel at it's ability to see the world in a completely different way to you? Do you wonder what it thinks, if it thinks, or it it can even perceive you?

When I got home that day after the lottery talk, I made a list of things that make me feel happy. I started with the big things to get them out of the way and then I got stuck for a few minutes after I'd written them down. I sat quietly listening and actively told myself that it was ok, I was ready to listen to anything that needed to be heard. I realised that to move past the block I had to define what happiness meant to me. I considered that the concept of happiness is meeting a need or a want. Happiness is something that puts me back in touch with myself. I just kept asking - What do you like doing? What do you remember? I wrote down anything that brought a smile to my face. My list became a list of things that express different aspects of myself. I realised how easy it is to overlook these smaller needs and wants in favour of big dreams.

Sometimes the ego says 'hey ignore that, you have way bigger things to think about'. But the smaller desires are ones that can often be achieved now. The tiny things that give moments of pleasure are just as valid as all the rest. If we constantly ignore these, if we refuse to listen to the child within that simply wants to feel sand between their toes without making it into a research trip for a novel, sooner or later our inner child will throw one big tantrum. Like a neglected child they will move away from us and keep their thoughts to themselves. When we put pen to paper or try to create, suddenly our minds have become devoid of ideas.

Whilst we are waiting for the big good things to happen, the little good things are within easy reach. I wrote this list to remind myself to take notice and also notice that I can actively create some of these moments for myself. Reading over my list, I realised that all five senses were demanding attention - sight, sound, taste, hearing and touch. I wrote down things that made me feel safe, things that thrill me, things that calm me. Writing freely without censoring, I found myself surprised by some of the things I had written. In short I was surprised by the simplicity of them.

The list has become a blueprint of pleasure that can be added to. It's a resource and and a reminder of who I am. It's a pool I can dip into when the well seems dry and for the days when the big things seem far out of reach.

What would be on your list of the little good things?

Singing - to an audience or to myself - just singing!
Writing music
Learning to play a song
Writing - fiction, non-fiction - anything!
Spring mornings
The smell of the sea
The light in Lisbon
Gazing over the River Tejo
The sound of the waves
The call of seagulls
Playing with puppies and kittens
Pictures of baby animals (just so cute!)
Butterflies on a Buddleia Tree
The full moon
Star-gazing in the countryside.
Pictures from space.
A horse galloping across a wide open field
Riding a horse
The smell of freshly mown grass
Great coffee
Homemade cake - just like gran used to make
Baking cakes (in the hope that it's like Gran's!) and licking cake mix off the spoon - yum!
Bailey's - Mmmmm
A warm bed
Fresh sheets on the bed
Velvet cushions
The sound of crickets in summer
Sitting down to listen to a talented buskers
Wearing a chenile jumper
Wearing Silver nail varnish
Wearing new clothes
Jewellery (I swear I was a jackdaw in my past life)
And whilst we are on the subject - jackdaws make me smile - such cheeky birds
Thatched rooves in a sleepy village
A poetry book my grandfather bought me when I was born
A field of poppies
A glade of bluebells
Watching a friend open a gift
Take-off in a plane - I can hardly contain my excitement
A roller coaster ride
Watching a bee taking pollen from a flower
Gin and tonic with a friend in a pretty country pub
Dinner at my best friend's house - they always make me feel so welcome
The sound of a cello - achingly beautiful
The scent of freshly chopped mint leaves
Sitting in a newly decorated room for the first time
Sitting down to read a new book (especially if it's by Steven King ;-)
Handmade Christmas Cards
Cards drawn by my friends little girl
Old buttons
The scent of nag champa incense
Discovering an inspirational website
Watching a good movie
Someone combing my hair
Dangling my toes in a lake
Summer evenings at dusk
The hoot of an owl
Receiving healing
Luxurious bubble bath
Listening to my favourite album of the moment through headphones, curled up in the armchair
Receiving a letter (you know, one of those things we got before email) from a loved one
Long chats on the phone with a friend
Walking up the hill to my favourite viewpoint in Lisbon
Having ‘penny drop’ moments whilst learning Portuguese
Spontaneous laughter with a stranger
Walking with bare feet
Photographs of special places or people
Willow Tree's
The sound of the wind when I'm snug inside
Making a campfire
Singing songs by the campfire
Making a connection with someone


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    • sunkentreasure profile image


      6 years ago from RUIMSIG, SOUTH AFRICA


      In the heart of every baby

      you’ll find the beautiful love of God

      In the sparkle of every shining star

      is the brilliance of God’s genius

      In every drop of precious water

      is the immeasurable kindness of God

      When you touch the texture of a leaf

      you feel the gentleness of God

      It’s a wonderful privilege

      to love God and say thank you

      There’s a very special feeling you get inside

      when you care for and look after God’s creation

      It’s so rich and so meaningful

      to be living each day to please God

      Giving God gratitude

      brings more miracles

      into your life.

      © Bernard Levine

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Leah, ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! Great read. I loved every word of it. You are a very talented person. I liked the list of good things...these days, thanks to my Accelerated Fibromyalgia and Neurothopy, both diseases of the skeletal system and muscles, my list of good things might be a short list, but I DO have a list and for that, I am grateful. Glad I found you on hubs.

    • Leah Whitehorse profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Whitehorse 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for your comment Justsilvie :-) I love some of the things on your least too. Holding hands, trees budding in Spring...all good things to appreciate x

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice hub! Many things on your list make me happy.

      A few more from me.

      Summer storms

      Spring tulips especially the creamy colored ones

      holding hands while walking with someone I love this can be a lover, a child, or my mom.

      Driving on a quiet country road in Texas with the radio playing oldies.



      walking through a meadow in the spring.

      Silent places with only sounds from nature.

      Thanks I have been meaning to make my Happiness list since the first of the year. You gave me a start.

      Trees budding in the Spring

      The wind blowing my hair

      Leaves falling in Autumn

    • Leah Whitehorse profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Whitehorse 

      7 years ago

      Haha Rob - um...I'm thinking yes!

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 

      7 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      Public Transport running on time - oops, is that too much of a little thing to expect ? lol

    • Leah Whitehorse profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Whitehorse 

      7 years ago

      Hi Judi - Thanks! Dreams are amazing aren't they! And yes it's true, we do have a lot in a common despite the differences. I like that :-)

    • Judicastro profile image


      7 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

      It truly is those little things! Loved your list and could relate to most all of them. We may not be on the same spiritual path but we have more in common than one would think. I too interpret dreams and am enthralled at the telling of them. Astrologers are very big in the Bible and it was a star that led the wise men and shepherds to a stable 2000 years ago. This was a great read and I enjoyed it!

    • lilmissbookworm profile image


      7 years ago

      I would say a full moon, fairy lights a blanket on a cold winters night sitting infront of a warming chiminea.

    • Leah Whitehorse profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Whitehorse 

      7 years ago

      Thanks Rob - Mmm I agree!

    • Rob Hanlon profile image

      Rob Hanlon 

      7 years ago from Epicentre of everywhere

      Smell of freshly baked bread is a'little thing' that never fails for me :-)

      Great Hub.


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