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It's time to start celebrating life's inchstones

What if these are the real engine of a happy life?

It's time to start celebrating life's inchstones What if these are the real engine of a happy life?

The future is a trap. We are always projected towards tomorrow, towards the great final goal we aspire to or that society pushes us to desire. They can be conventional goals like graduation, a career upgrade, buying a house, marriage, children, or more personal ones like reaching a certain number of followers on Instagram, finding the rarity missing from our collection, teaching the dog not to pee on the carpet, but whatever they consist of, when we achieve them we often celebrate. We feel entitled to boast, to dedicate time to ourselves and, perhaps, even to treat ourselves to a small gift. And in the meantime? We overlook the journey towards that final destination and, if the path turns out to be more tortuous than expected, we feel like failures because that goal seems too far away in time. Our negative mood amplifies if scrolling through Instagram everyone online seems to have that something we haven't yet achieved. The urgency to keep up forces us to run without ever stopping. The risk is the anxiety that rises and burnout is around the corner.

A Change of Perspective

What if we occasionally said to ourselves "well done!" and gave ourselves a pat on the back not because we climbed Everest, but because we had the courage to take that first small step towards the mountain? Normally, we tend to focus only on the negative moments, on failures, until they turn into the long-awaited success. What if we tried to change perspective? What if we stopped blaming ourselves for everything we failed at and instead rejoiced in the small daily achievements? Our performances don't always have to be perfect, and we don't have to live just waiting for tomorrow when our dreams will come true (if they ever do).

Identifying and Recognizing Small Victories

Celebrating the small things we achieve when working on an important project is essential because it allows us to fully experience the experience in its entirety, but what are they? In English, they're called inchstones, a term that has become popular among parents to indicate the smallest milestones in their children's lives, such as the fact that they finally slept through the night or the first time they were invited to a classmate's birthday party. More generally, they are those seemingly insignificant moments that, when put together, give us fun, joy, make us feel good. They are not important moments or life-changing experiences, but they are the boost of energy that keeps us going, that helps us overcome adversity, that makes life with all its challenges more bearable. Some examples? Cooking the perfect poached egg, spending quality time with loved ones, learning the chords of our favorite song, going to the movies alone when we didn't feel comfortable doing it before, painting nails without smudges, completing a 2000-piece puzzle, learning to order steamed dumplings in Chinese, mending the skirt that got caught in the bike spokes, surviving a super stressful week at work, waking up at the first ring of the alarm clock, accepting a romantic invitation after a breakup, …

How to Celebrate Small Milestones

A good tip for learning to recognize small milestones is to write them down, so by rereading them at the end of the day, we'll be able to minimize our sense of frustration, contain the impostor syndrome, be self-indulgent, turning negative thoughts into positive affirmations. How to celebrate them depends on us. We can treat ourselves to that bag we saw in the store windows, do a purifying face mask, eat a glazed doughnut, go out with friends, sleep all afternoon, relax lounging on the couch, take a walk, book a day at the spa, sing at the top of our lungs, pamper our Labrador, say no to that commitment we wanted to avoid, go on a trip, buy a bouquet of flowers, …

Why Celebrate Small Victories

Recognizing and celebrating everyday small victories brings several benefits. Even according to science. When we do this, our brain activates a reward circuit, releasing chemicals like dopamine that give feelings of pride and spur us on to the next result and so on until (and perhaps beyond) the final goal. Celebrating finishing reading a 2000-page book or not burning the pie is a form of training in resilience, in gratitude for what we have achieved, in physical and mental well-being, it's even a training in success. Every small step symbolizes our growth and can become an opportunity for joy that lifts our mood, gives us inner strength, and reminds us that we are enough, that we are not behind our goals and that we are making constant progress.