Mental Health

Focusing on the Little Things: an antidote to my existential crisis

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When things start to feel big and overwhelming, when the weight of thousands of unanswered questions is pressing into my chest, I have found that thinking of the small, special parts of my day-to-day is helpful.

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It might be just me, but I find myself plagued with these big, philosophical questions. Like, why are we here? What is the point of all this?I’ll be doing something random and have to sit down for a minute as the weight of the world presses into my chest.

In response to my seemingly-never-ending existential crisis, my therapist told me that although it sounds cliche, the minutiae is what matters.

The small, precise, seemingly trivial details that life is composed of make life worth it.

Or something. I might be misquoting, but when I was journaling after therapy, I came up with a pretty good list of the little things.

Related: Thanks for Coming to My Existential Crisis


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Such as my nephew’s precious laugh or when he calls me “Aunt Rara.” Or seeing a rainbow in the sky after a week of rain. Or the gray fur on my dog’s snoot and around his eyes that somehow seems to convey the wisdom he has inside him—all the little things.

I suggest that you also try making a list of your own beautiful minutiae.

How to Make a “Minutiae” List

What do I mean by the “little things” in life? I guess I’m talking about the type of stuff that usually goes unnoticed during the busier parts of our days or our lives that makes you happy.

There are lots of examples. Maybe it’s the process of making a cup of coffee just the way you like it and feeling that pure bliss when you take the first sip (or maybe it’s getting Starbucks if that’s what you prefer).

I’ve often let such blissful moments slip away from me without giving them a second thought. But when I think about it, I see that they make the foundation for a life where I feel happy.

What are some things that are small, specific, and matter more than you give them credit for? These are the things for your minutiae list.

You might still be asking why you should want to do this. In my opinion, making lists is a source of joy in itself. But to those who don’t share my love of listing, you’ll may still enjoy the benefits that come with having a positive mindset.

Related: The Art of Staying Positive: Appreciate More

In short, if you’re paying attention to pleasant things–quiet mornings before everyone else wakes up, an outfit that’s both comfy and cute, hugs from someone you love, sunsets on the beach after a fun day–you’re focused on the positives.

The things we focus on matter. The way we talk to ourselves matters. We’re always listening to what we say in our heads.

Furthermore, taking the time to pick out the better parts of our days and lives is a form of gratitude. It’s paying attention to what’s special to us and consciously appreciating it.

There’s truth to the phrase, “It’s the little things in life that count.”

Noticing the little happy things isn’t always easy. These things are not necessarily obvious, and at times, life is just hard.

But if we make an effort to notice them and appreciate them, it becomes easier to find them. And as our collection of positives grows, they become that much more special.

How Do You Find the Happy Minutiae?

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Zoom In:

Do you like the feeling of your blanket on your skin as you’re lying in bed? The taste of your toothpaste? The scent of the air freshener as you open your car door? Does it feel extra special when a good song shuffles on, and you dance for a little while? Does being part of a community (like the one we have here at Libero) make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Now zoom out:

Do you like the way your job makes you feel fulfilled? The weather that comes with the season we’re in right now? Do you like being the age you are right now because you feel like you have enough wisdom to do well for yourself but enough youthful energy to go crazy occasionally?

There’s no wrong way to make your list of important little things, but in my opinion, we should do it with curiosity, passion, optimism, and honesty.

Here’s some of my list:

  • The way my face tingles pleasantly after using my favorite facewash
  • The smell of wet earth after a thunderstorm and the fact that “petrichor” is a word that exists to describe it
  • Wearing worn-in sneakers that have perfectly shaped to fit my feet
  • The fact that I have an entire library of ebooks in my pocket (technology is incredible)
  • Clean sheets that still smell like detergent
  • Finding poetry that I relate to
  • Having a coffee mug for every single holiday
  • The community of likeminded people I’ve met through Libero

Closing Thoughts

Managing my mental health can be overwhelming at times. Getting stable was a long, challenging process. Doing the things I have to do to maintain that stability can be daunting. And trying to be the best version of me is something I work on continuously.

When things start to feel big and overwhelming, when the weight of thousands of unanswered questions is pressing into my chest, I have found that thinking of the small, special parts of my day-to-day is helpful.

After all, it’s always small parts that make up a whole.

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My name is Laura! When I was a teenager, I fought what I call a crazy battle with anorexia. After three years of intense struggling, I was lucky enough to be shown that there was another option: recovery. It took years of hard work, mental grit, and introspection, but I learned to live a life of freedom. Now I’m learning (once again) that you don’t just choose recovery; you have to keep choosing it.

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