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How finding joy in the little things is an investment in long-term wellbeing

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Find joy in the little things. This piece of folk advice has been around for aeons, and is one that many of us try to live by. But is there actually any real benefit to this practice?

According to research, yes, there is indeed some benefit to savouring fleeting moments of joy – also known as “micro-joys”. Whether that’s relishing a cup of coffee, performing an act of kindness or enjoying a funny video, finding joy in the little things not only has many temporary benefits, but research shows it can also be an investment in long-term wellbeing.

On a physiological level, engaging in micro-joys can improve our vagal tone. This is important, as the vagus nerve is responsible for our body’s autopilot system, which regulates the processes we don’t have to think about – such as our heart rate, digestion and breathing. The vagus nerve is also linked to mood and anxiety disorders, and regulating stress, so the more stimulated it is the better off you may be.

On a social level, positive emotions can improve relationships and potentially lead to positivity resonance – a momentary connection between people that enhances health, increases life-span and meaning in life.

Experiencing positive emotions not only boosts momentary happiness, but it also helps us to develop qualities such as optimism and resilience, which...

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