Life can have a certain heaviness to it, don’t you think?
There’s that whole bit about the adulting we have to do. That comes with bills to pay, jobs to go to, children to care for, and boring stuff to buy like laundry detergent and new socks.
Then there are the curve-ball stress factors: illnesses, job loss, inclement weather conditions, breakups, divorce, and car accidents. Then we have the stress factors we all expect: rush hour traffic, long lines at the grocery store, small children having tantrums, homework, and work meetings. It can make life seem pretty dull, sometimes fairly stressful, and often complicated.
But I believe in the little things that are truly the big things in life.
These are the kinds of things (and people) that make us smile, give us a sense of hope, and help us get through days that offer us more challenges than joy.
These are the people who make my heart happy and put a little spring in my step:
People who compliment other people.
I love it when someone tells me they love my hair or they think my shoes are pretty. Any genuine, non-creepy compliment makes my day. I even love it when I notice other people complimenting each other. Complimenting shoes is my go-to because I love shoes and tend to notice them. But I could stand to do it more. Who doesn’t love to be told that they look great or did something well?
Drunk girls in bathrooms.
If you’ve never experienced this, you are missing out. I’ve been drunk a couple of times in bathrooms with other women, and there’s not a stronger network of support. Screw all the comedies about women that portray us as gossips, catty, and competitive!
What you see happening in a bathroom when everyone’s drunk—that is the reality of women. They check in to make sure everyone is safe. They pay compliments. They help with wardrobe malfunctions and makeup. They are encouraging, supportive, boisterous, kind, and incredibly wonderful human beings. Each time I experience this phenomenon, I feel buoyed by my supportive community of women.
People who take back their grocery carts.
This! This all day! And okay, I get it: sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that make this impossible, although I can’t think of a particular example. But I think it says a lot about someone when they put their grocery carts back where they belong. Not only is it considerate of other drivers in the parking lot, it’s considerate of the employees of that store. Similarly, I appreciate people who throw trash (including cigarettes) in proper receptacles rather than littering. These are people who think beyond their own convenience and consider others. Thank you!
Social justice warriors.
I see your social media posts. I notice when you raise awareness, participate in protests, donate or raise money for causes, and generally practice what you preach. I notice—and truly love to see—the innate boldness within a person who is passionate about human rights, animal rights, and the environment. I love that you advocate for others—regardless of their differences. Preach on!
Authentic, vulnerable people.
When I went through my divorce, I became truly authentic for the first time. Instead of trying to make my life look perfect on the outside, I was honest about my struggle. I told my stories and shared my challenges, using my own difficulties to help reach out to others, and I received the strongest outpouring of love and support in return.
And I admire so much when people in my life are real, honest, and just raw with their lives. When they say, “This is who I am and how I feel. And maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s me,” they’re not trying to impress anyone or measure up to anyone’s standards but their own. Even during their own struggles, they challenge me to continue to be vulnerable and authentic.
Women who encourage other women.
Look, if you’re a woman who thinks men are better friends than women, I’m here to tell you that you’ve bought into misogyny. It’s just not true. I’m all about men and women being friends, but there’s something beautiful, powerful, and special about female friendships.
I love to see strong female friendships, and I love seeing women supporting, encouraging, and championing other women. We know that life isn’t a competition. We’re not fighting over jobs or men or any other damn thing that the media likes to portray us battling over. When I see women encourage other women, I want to do a little happy dance.
People who take the time to connect.
I’m as guilty as the next person for getting distracted by my smartphone, but I love when people in real life actually connect with me.
When I’m taking a walk, I love when people I pass by say hello, make eye contact, and make conversation. I love when I’m checking out in a grocery store line and the cashier actually sees me and has a genuine interaction with me that doesn’t sound required or scripted. I love when the telemarketers or political pollsters who call me laugh when I make a joke, or when they actually sound like human beings who can hear me on the other end of the line, rather than bored workers just trying to get to the next call on the list. I love when humans make connections and acknowledge other humans. I know I can do better with this, too.
Life can be filled with stress and boredom, but we get to choose what we focus on and how we live. Simply noticing other awesome human beings is a great way to remind ourselves to stop worrying, to spread joy, and to connect with others.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Chris Lees/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Travis May
Social Editor: Erin Lawson