Read time: 6 minutes
- Small delights produce joy, but our negativity bias can keep us from seeing them.
- Delight is different from gratitude. Learn the root of the word and how such ordinary joys can produce such profound outcomes.
- The more you look for delight, the more delights reveal themselves to you. Meditate on delights daily, so that you become more capable of picking up all the joys around you.
It can be easy for those of us living with diabetes to succumb to its frustrations, negativity, cruelty, and brutality. The physical impact of diabetes—and just about any other disease—can be relentless. But perhaps even more burdensome is the mental toll that comes with managing one’s chronic health situation.
The mental load can not only weigh a person down, but bury them in anguish.
Small, mundane delights in everyday life can be just the source of comfort we need during difficult times. Learning to actively search for delight in each day can also reveal that there are exponentially more delights to be enjoyed than you imagined.
Below, find out how this practice works and ways you can seek out the spectacular in your everyday.
Magic in the Mundane
Maybe you’re experiencing another bout of diabetes burnout; perhaps you’re simply stumbling into midlife malaise. Whatever the source of your discontent, these seasons can usher in doubt, fear, and anger.
To counter hopelessness, it can help to uncover small, everyday occurrences that you deem delightful. It sounds ridiculously simple. And yet, these small delights can bring instant relief, as well as growth through a period of drought.
We often let joyful, ordinary moments escape acknowledgement. But it’s precisely the smallest, most mundane experiences that deserve our attention. Because if we stop to consider them, we’ll begin to notice the deep, transcendental pleasures that they can offer.
What are these little delights? Here are just a few examples to get you started:
- Inhaling the smell of a freshly brewed cup of coffee in the morning
- Listening to each individual bird’s song at dusk
- Taking note of the budding weeds—a plant growing where it’s not wanted—greening a cobblestone street
- Hearing one of your favorite songs over the loud speakers while shopping for groceries
- Connecting with a perfect stranger over a shared, split-second experience
- Rolling in the grass with your dog
- Cracking the spine of a new book
- Observing the tiny wonders of little insect empires crawling in the garden
- Climbing into fresh, cold, clean sheets at the end of the day
The list of these unexceptional, yet immensely pleasurable moments is truly endless.
But for as mundane as they are, it does take a bit of laboring on our part to find them. Delight is not some happy accident, but a choice we make. We choose to seek out and acknowledge these little miracles; in fact, delight may require more rigor and labor than misery.
In what’s known as our natural negativity bias, we as humans tend to gravitate towards the negative. This tendency means that negative experiences imprint more easily and linger longer than positive ones. Therefore, it takes more effort than one might expect to experience delight. But it’s through these observations that joy flows abundant.
These delights are the simplest way to achieve happiness; they’re also perhaps the most profound. They aren’t based on any achievement. Rather, noticing these ordinary joys are rooted in how you choose to spend your time and energy.
Seeking Light in the Dark
To be clear, being delighted is different from being grateful. Often, the two are used interchangeably. But it’s important to note their differences.
Gratitude is a readiness to show appreciation or the act of being thankful. Delight is an absolute and full engagement of the senses. Most notably, delight signifies pleasure, one of our most naturally human states. As children, we typically don’t feel grateful. But we do feel delight. Along with negativity, it’s one of our most natural inclinations. To be grateful requires thought; to be delighted requires only an innate sense of pleasure.
Quite literally, the English word delight finds its etymological roots in light. The word itself is an invitation to accept the brightness and lightness that abound. It’s a very simple recognition of the light that always exists, while also acknowledging that light is only proportionate to the very same darkness that is also always in existence.
Delight suggests being both with the light and without. It’s the connection of good and bad being simultaneously in existence. The two are interdependent. But how?
Happiness and sadness coexist—one cannot be without the other. We see this most clearly in nature, where rainbows come from rain and islands come from molten lava. Beauty and hope rise from chaos and devastation.
Delight (or, being in the light) is possible in the depths of difficulty. We still have a capacity for delight while experiencing something we deem terrible: just because we are going through it doesn’t mean the rest of the world stops. The cricket still carries on his song after a home has been destroyed from an afternoon tornado; the sun still colors the morning sky after a life-threatening diagnosis the day before.
Life’s agonies never stop—they’re part of being human. But so are delights. And as those agonies continue to come, it’s vital that we also recognize the delights, too. Even if it’s for a fleeting moment, fixating on that feeling of delight you get from walking past a honeysuckle blossom gives you the dose of resilience you need.
To be delighted requires one main ingredient: to be present.
To strengthen your ability to find delight, try following these three steps:
- Acknowledge a delight daily.
- Write it down with pen and paper.
- Take no more than 20 minutes to write out your delights.
These three rules can accelerate your practice, but really, you only need to acknowledge a delight in the mind. Since being present—not allowing the mind to race—and wholly surrendering to the moment are not something that can be done around the clock, choose a moment (or multiple) throughout the day to choose presence. In those moments, actively seek delight.
The next time you walk from one place to another, practice looking and listening without thinking. Become aware of being.
Allowing yourself to be still and feel the connection to something you recognize as beautiful beyond the self brings about these delightful sensations. Pause, look, and see: what is it that enhances your spirit? What brings you joy? Acknowledge it. Appreciate it. And fully embrace it.
Attuning to and reflecting on delightful moments every day can help to rewire the brain. By doing so, we increase and prolong activation pathways that signal pleasure, which help us to get better at noticing and remembering sources of goodness. In turn, our lens through which we see the world can become more hopeful and optimistic.
To increase delight exponentially, share it with others. There is a whole host of delight that comes with sharing what you observe and love with others and witnessing them reciprocate similar feelings. Getting to know others over small, often overlooked sources of joy can deepen relationships and spark further wonderment.
When you start to really train your gaze to seek out magic in the mundane, the more delight you may find.