What are micro joys and how can they help you live a more mindful life?

Dance a little, smile more often, and be happier.

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I’ve always been a loyalist to the little things in life—long drives chasing the sunset, old Hindi songs, a bouquet of white roses interspersed with stems of baby’s breath, a tight hug, and even the swoon-worthy lyrics of Fantasy by Mariah Carey. They have an unparalleled power in bringing a smile to my face and grounding me in the now. A new buzzword that has been making its rounds on the Internet is reinventing the meaning of the ‘little things in life’, and is known as micro joys. According to an article in Poosh, “A micro joy may sound like something that brings us joy, like a sweet treat or a hug, but micro joy actually refers to the resonant, rewarding joy that comes from within when practicing certain behaviours.” 

Like most other romanticised notions of life, I instantly fell in love with the idea of micro joys and their power to help us lead happier and more mindful lives. Read on below for the what, why, and how of it all.

What are micro joys? 

Think of how you feel when warm rays of the golden hour make you break into a smile or how you sway your head with a swing in your step while listening to your favourite song. Dr Chloe Carmichael, PhD, says, “Micro joys are pockets of your day where you notice something small and perhaps seemingly insignificant, yet still literally or figuratively beautiful. They are anything from a hot cup of coffee to a perfectly smooth peach or the sweet scent of a child when he hugs goodbye for school. When we completely focus our senses on a micro joy, we can become more fully present in that moment.” 

Transformational life coach, Dr Aparna Santhanam further adds, “Psychologists have long known the power of joy in small things or what is now known as micro joys. Micro joys get endorphins flowing, regulate balance of happy hormones, and leave us feeling contented and joyful in the moment, from moment to moment.” 

How do they help centre yourself, live a more mindful life, and be happier? 

Micro joys help us become more conscious, not only of the thoughts and emotions within us, but also of our environment and the small gestures of kindness by those around us. Whether it’s taking time out to pursue a long-lost passion, curling up with a good read or stopping to smell the roses—micro joys enable high levels of patience, allow us to cultivate the idea of resting, and help us discover deep joys. Simple hobbies such as baking, painting, pottery, make us notice beautiful details that we might otherwise miss amid the din of our lives. Spending quality time with a loved one or simply giving them a tight hug may make you feel loved and belonged. 

“Happiness is a fleeting outward expression of what we feel, while micro joys are internal. They are immediately attainable, intentional, and deliberate—transcending temporary circumstances to buoy us. With practice, micro joys become a way of living, an alternative to toxic positivity and the cynicism of the everyday. They teach us that all things are fleeting but we can still be grounded in what is possible, joyful, and true. Most of us live in a binary world of our own making; I’m happy or sad, rich or poor, angry or depressed—micro joys help us find middle ground, continuing moments of deliberate and mindful fulfilment,” says Santhanam. 

“It also helps you to build resilience in life. When we focus on the micro joys of life, I believe that a person is able to navigate the challenges of life in a better manner. We become increasingly grateful for the little things in life and are able to deal with problems in a better manner. It also helps to cultivate inner peace,” says psychologist Nisha Khanna. 
How can you create micro joys? 

It’s simple, really. Micro joys can be anything that puts a swing in your step and makes you beam. Allow yourself to take some time out of your hectic lives and take cognisance of the moments that make your feel truly alive. While there are many ways to go about creating these moments of micro joy, here are some that we recommend. 

“Try challenging yourself to notice five micro joys throughout your day. This will cue your brain to start scanning for those little delights, which can be a wonderful, mini-respite on a chaotic day,” says Carmichael. 

“Learn to be more mindful and observant of small activities and do the small things that give you joy; visiting a farmers market and getting fresh produce gives me so much joy and I try make time for it regularly,” says Santhanam, “Don’t rush through life chasing big dreams. Slow down, enjoy the now. Micro joys will appear. Do not say no to new experiences. It shuts out possible avenues. Especially in emotionally tough times, seek, identify and live the micro joys. Nothing gets us out of a funk faster.”

Here’s your cue to start experiencing them today.