All The Small Things

I am convinced that living with less is not about sacrifice. When you move the things that don’t mean much out of the picture, you can focus on the things that really matter. With the superfluous out of the way you can engage in meaningful activities, spend time with people you love and discover joy and gratitude for the small pleasures in your life.

While there are major life changes, accomplishments and achievements that can make us happy, it’s in the daily, small pleasures that we define our lovely lives. Often, we are too busy or distracted to notice and appreciate them, but they do matter.  These small things, little gestures and tiny happenings will make your heart swell, lift your mood and make you a better person if you give them a chance.

How to embrace the small things

Stop Comparing. The easiest way to suck the joy out of something is to compare it to something else, or compare your experience to your neighbor’s experience. Each small thing can stand on its own and each experience can be brilliant in its own way. Choose joy over comparison.

Be there. Savor your small things by being present for them. Instead of making your to-do list while sipping your soup, realize that there is magic in that perfect combination of tomatoes and sesame oil. Pause and enjoy it.

Share. Enjoying simple, small pleasures is great, but sharing them makes them so much better.

You can begin to enjoy simple pleasures long before you’ve cleared the clutter, or are really living a more with less lifestyle. You can start anytime by simply identifying and showing gratitude for something small. Think about what made you smile in the last day, or the last hour. What teeny, tiny thing shaped your day?

My small pleasures

  • a tiny release in my lower back at the end of yoga class
  • getting lost in a good book.
  • 40 degree day (It’s January, I’ll take what I can get.)
  • a kind email, comment or review
  • warm, soft blanket
  • toes in sand
  • napping with the animals
  • dark chocolate
  • my morning routine
  • laughing with my sister
  • admiring icicles
  • taking a walk
  • a perfectly dry cappuccino (with almond or soy milk)
  • Sunday dinners with my husband and daughter

The small pleasures you shared with me on Twitter.

  • a really good hug
  • watching a bird going about its business and paying me no mind
  • enjoying a nice hot large cup of tea
  • cuddle time with my pups
  • reading in the sunshine
  • doing something creative
  • taking a walk with my son
  • a glass of wine in front of the fireplace
  • walking my dogs and enjoying how much fun they are having
  • sitting on my balcony in the sun listening to an audio book with eyes closed
  • bubble bath
  • old jazz songs coming up in the radio
  • browsing old photo albums with my grandma
  • sitting under a tree for shade on those hot summer days
  • petting my cats
  • looking at my garden
  • morning coffee
  • holding hands with my husband or mom
  • large glass of water and time with God
  • perusing through my favorite book store
  • running by the beach everyday followed by a swim
  • writing just for me and photos of everyday moments
  • walking Como Park Zoo & Conservatory and watching the turtles and sloth
  • sleeping in on Sundays
  • red wine and running
  • walk in the woods

So maybe we should sweat the small stuff after all and give all the small things the recognition and gratitude they deserve. In a moment of true gratitude for something small, you realize what this whole living with less thing is all about. And you will want more.


  1. Melissa says

    I live in ND, and its been very cold lately. A few weeks ago my husband and I were down south. My favorite thing to do in the morning, was open the curtains in our hotel room and stand in the floor to celing window and soak up the sun. The feel of the sun on my skin was wonderful. I appreciated it so much then and I still do today. That memory will help get me through until summer.

  2. says

    I recently interviewed Nataly Kogan, CEO of Happier, and she said that was the one thing she learned from developing their new app: that it was the small things that made the biggest difference. I realize she (and you) are right, and I think that’s what makes a daily gratitude practice so helpful; it makes us mindful of all the small things!

  3. says

    I love how you said we need to give the small things the recognition and gratitude they deserve. It matters not HOW much you have, if you are not grateful then it is never enough. Gratitude makes it enough and it makes a happy heart. I am loving a bright sunny day today and a quiet home for contemplation. :) Thanks for your post.

  4. says

    I really, really believe in the tenet ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Several times, instead of rejoicing in the accomplishments of my life, I find myself displeased because I see someone else doing more and achieving more than me. It might be as little as writing a better blog post (such as yours), or as big as going travelling earlier than me. Currently I am dreaming of Thailand and their amazing street food stalls, but I have to keep reminding myself, patience is a virtue. Eventually, I will be there enjoying myself, but comparing myself to others will rob me of any joy that I could potentially feel in the present.

  5. says

    It really added to this post that you included your readers’ small pleasures. I loved reading through your list and theirs.

    Sitting with my breath. I never knew it could have such an impact on the rest of my day. In taking time to make this a part of my life, I am better able to cope with anything that comes my way.

  6. says

    My small pleasures include but are not limited to a good cup of coffee, a cup of my favorite Chai tea, tickle fights with my 3 year old daughter, a cat sleeping on top of you on cold winter nights, bunny kisses (actual kisses/licks from my rabbit), and sunshine on cold winter days.

  7. says

    The little things are so important. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve written a list as part of a project of my greatest comforts, and they include Earl grey tea, watching the sun breaking through the clouds, reading a good book, warm duvet, blankets and cushions. wool. all such simple, but lovely things.

  8. becky says

    Two things. #1. Being able to stay inside your toasty warm house all day when it’s cold, dark and raining. #2. The smell of first drops of summer rain on hot asphalt or cement. What a great post; so true!

  9. says

    Lovely! I agree, there are soooo many wonderful yet small treasures in life. One thing I love doing comes from LOA ‘work’…what I do when I am driving to and from work is look at fun colored cars and express how happy I am that person has a fun colored car (or a fast, fabulous one, etc). Doing this brings broad smiles to my face every time! Thank you for all your lovely posts, Courtney.

  10. pinkangelgirl says

    I totally agree it’s the little pleasures that make life great! I love a starbucks soy greentea latte, a good book, a warm day, a quiet moment!

  11. says

    I sometimes struggle to remember that it is the small things, but am reminded when those small things happen. The most recent small thing that made a very large positive impression was just about 30 minutes of “me time” when I was not expecting it. Even a couple years ago, that would not be the kind of small thing that I would have taken so much comfort in.

    Thanks for the list.

  12. Kathy says

    I am soooo enjoying your blog. I learned about Minimalism when I read an article about Joshua Milford Fields in the Toronto Globe and Mail in December 2012. It was one of those rare days when I stopped to drink my coffee IN the local coffee shop rather than dashing out on yet another errand. It literally has changed my life. I found your site and others and am a convert! I have made lists of what is important in my life and what i can release.

    My youngest child finishes high school this year and is off to an exciting new phase in her life in a far off university this fall. So, with great enthusiasm, I am downsizing, minimizing, giving away and preparing to sell everything and move to a rental. I realize my heart is in Calgary where my daughter and amazing 2 year old granddaughter live and wherever my youngest settles. My priority is no longer a house and possessions, but travel and more family time. If this is a “mid-life crisis” then it is the most sensible thing I have ever done! I am definitely NOT in crisis, but have finally found a calm and a direction and purpose to being alone again. My profound thanks! Keep inspiring others!


  13. says

    It’s hard to remember to enjoy the small things, I’ve found, during the cold winter months. I often find myself obsessing over the upcoming summer, or even our longer-term plans for the future. It’s good to plan, and it’s definitely good to dream, but it’s also important to ENJOY all of the little delights, even on the most difficult part of the journey!

  14. says

    I loved this post, particularly reading the two lists of small pleasures :)
    Everyday, while in bed and before slipping, I close my eyes and try to remember 5 simple pleasures I’m grateful for in my day. It’s a great way to finish the day, and this simple exercise is helping me to enjoy everyday life more.
    Some of my small pleasures are: reading without time constraints, chatting and laughing out loud with my sister, acting crazy to make my 85 years old grandmother laugh, the silence and stillness of the world while I work at late night, singing to myself, etc.