We all have moments of weakness. It’s how we recover from them that really counts. — Richelle Mead
When you’re facing a tough time, it can feel impossible not to get discouraged. Challenges are called challenges for a reason. They push you in different ways to grow into a better version of yourself, even if that means breaking down before you can get back up.
No one gets through life without experiencing their own dark days. It’s normal, so don’t get upset with yourself for going through a tough time. There’s no set rules on how long these difficulties can go on for or how deeply they’ll make you hurt, but there are always tools you can use to get through it one day at a time.
One healing technique that people often use is recognizing and focusing on small wins. For most of us, these small victories go unnoticed. However, we are quick to notice any mistakes or shortcomings that we could make during our day. While it is important to notice our mistakes so as to correct them, we should not ignore our small wins. This is because they give us joy and are essential to our motivation. Here is how to celebrate small wins daily and increase happiness. They’ll inspire you even on your darkest days, so you can get back up and put another foot forward.
1. Notice Your Little Wins
What exactly is a small win? This is an activity which you do successfully but weren’t sure you could actually pull off. A small win varies from person to person. It can be finally being able to grow a flower or sticking to a workout plan. Small wins do not change the world. However, they can put a smile on your face and help you gain some confidence. We can get stuck on noticing all the bad activities going on in our lives and forget to see the small wins. Small wins give us the strength to reach further and try to accomplish more. Hence, they are essential in the process of growth. Take the time to notice your small wins so as to appreciate them and yourself too.
2. Praise Your Accomplishments
Over the course of your life, you’ve succeeded in accomplishing so many things. When you were a kid, you learned how to ride a bike, tie your shoes or go to school. As you got older, you navigated the world of friendships, relationships and building your career. Everything you learned took time and effort, which shouldn’t go unrewarded. Start lifting yourself up by giving yourself a pat on the back for your previous accomplishments. The smaller they are, the better.
3. Get Excited
Children get very excited about small things. This keeps them happy and enthusiastic about life. As we grow up, we become stodgy. It becomes difficult to get excited about things that do not qualify as big and significant. Sometimes, we fail to get excited by small things in a bid to impress other adults. The questions is, why do we limit our happiness to impress other people who simply don’t care and are just as grumpy as us? If you get excited about small things, let it show. If you feel happy because you were finally able to do that small thing that you have struggled with for a long time, then get excited about it. Let it be your small win. Bask in the victory of having achieved it and it will increase your level of happiness.
4. Live in the Present Moment and Acknowledge It
In pursuit of future achievements, we tend to take the present moment for granted. We think that the little activities that we perform presently do not affect us and our trajectory. As a matter of fact, they do. Day to day moments are the ones which add up and help us to have a life experience. By noticing and filling them with wins, we can create a big success eventually. For example, if you strive to read 10 pages of a book every day, you can accumulate a lot of knowledge in one year. Therefore, live in the present and fill it with wins. They will add up and make you happy in the long run.
5. Reward Yourself
A reward is anything that brings you pleasure. You should always reward yourself for achieving anything. It could be a big or a small win. Take the time to reward yourself. This can be your favorite dish, some time watching your favorite show, some ice cream or chocolate. Celebrate your small wins with a reward. This motivates you to maintain focus and keep winning. It is a way to program yourself for long term achievement and happiness.
6. Don’t Pile Pressure upon Yourself
Ever since our school days, we have worked with deadlines. We carry this habit into adulthood and put deadlines on our goals. If we miss them, it leads to feelings of failure and loss. While placing deadlines on our activities ensures commitment, they should not be too strict. Relax your deadlines. This helps you to accomplish small wins every day and leads to happiness. It also motivates you.
7. Value Your Love
Even if you feel alone, no one is truly on their own in life. There will always be people who love you. They could be family or friends. Love can come from the librarian who sees you every Saturday, or the cashier at your grocery store who always talks with you about the newest food you’re trying. Whether or not you feel it right now, you are so loved. You will be loved when you feel alone and you’ll be loved when you get out of the darkness.
8. Practice Breathing Techniques
Another way to have a small win is to practice breathing techniques. Darkness can be brought on by anxiety, and you can defeat your anxiety just by how you breathe. Take a long, deep inhale through your nose and hold it for three seconds. Release slowly. Repeat until you feel better or more relaxed. You’ve now learned how to center yourself. Another small win!
9. Recognize Your Efforts
Life is about persevering. You’re always trying to do your best every day, no matter how you feel. The more you try, the more it becomes a habit, but it’s still something you should recognize as an accomplishment. It takes guts to give your all every day, especially if you’re doing something you’re not totally passionate about. Your ability to try is a small win that should feel like a big one.
10. Rest When You Need To
Dark times can be brought on by burning yourself out. Whether it’s about work, school or your social life, you may have reached a point where you need to put everything on pause. You are always allowed to rest when you need it. Rest is a win in and of itself. Saying no to things is healing for your spirit, so you can come back ready to try even harder.
11. Choose Not To
Once you get into your own routine, it’s so easy to get stuck in the motions of doing what you do every day. Even when the world seems dark, you may feel like you have to keep going. A personal win you can have today can just be choosing not to take part in what’s adding to your stress.
These activities can be a variety of things. It could be that you’re wearing your body down with rigorous daily gym workouts. You may bring your work home with you and stay up until very late hours just to get ahead of the game. You may be constantly planning the future, setting goals that you won’t be able to reach for a long time.
Figure out what choices and activities contribute to your darkness. Look back at what you’ve been doing and trace it to how you feel right now. Choose not to do those things, whether it’s temporary or permanent. Leave your work at work. Give yourself a rest day. Do something fun in your free time. Recognizing unhealthy habits may be considered a small win, but it could be a big one in setting your days back on track.
12. Eat Healthy Foods
Switching your eating lifestyle over from what you currently eat to something that’s completely healthy may be hard to do and even impossible to maintain. That’s why eating healthy foods can be a small win. You don’t have to throw out everything in your fridge or go on a big grocery run. Instead, choose the low-fat versions of your favorite chips or throw a side of broccoli in with your dinner later this week. Healthy foods will make you feel physically better, which will transform the head space you may find yourself stuck in.
13. Make a List
Sometimes the darkest days are debilitating. You may not be able to do anything but lie down in bed. That’s okay. Open a note on your phone or make a mental list of what you’re going to do when the darkness has passed. Set small goals for yourself. You’re going to shower and brush your teeth. You’re going to put gas in your car. You’re going to celebrate making it through your first day back by going out for ice cream.
Your list is going to be distinctly yours. Your goals and accomplishments shouldn’t be compared to anyone else’s. Celebrate the small win of making a list. You’ll have time later to do what needs to be done. For now, process your thoughts and emotions. Treat yourself kindly. Your list will be waiting for you when you get back to a better place.
During the darkest days, even the smallest light will make a big difference. Try recognizing these small wins in your own life, or find other ones that are similar. Celebrate what you can and be your own cheerleader. It’ll help you grow stronger every day, until you can look back at the dark clouds receding in the distance.
Photo credit: @_minimalista / Instagram