Glimmers – the micromoments of happiness

Ms Amy Woodgate | Director of Girls’ Boarding and Head of Middle School

Recently, I’ve heard the term ‘glimmers’ being used and have seen posts on social media asking me to ‘find the glimmers in my day’.  It got me thinking about these small moments, those moments that can so easily be looked over or taken for granted and not appreciated.

Glimmers is a term to describe those small moments that can give us positive thoughts and emotions.  They are the moments that spark joy, bring contentment, or simply put a smile on our face. As opposed to ‘triggers’ that can bring about an intense emotional response, ‘glimmers’ have a positive impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

The Australian Medical Association, in an article in August 2023, describes some common things that could be glimmers for people

  • Petting or cuddling a pet
  • A specific smell such as a flower or fragrance
  • A moment in nature
  • Hearing a favourite song
  • Eating a favourite food

Everyone’s list of glimmers is different and personalised to them.  For me, it can be my dog being happy to see me at the end of a long day, the view on the beach where my parents live or looking at a photo of a place I’ve travelled to and remembering the experience.  It can be a message from a student saying thank you or sharing a laugh with a colleague or friend.  It is often in these small moments that we can feel calm and relaxed and these glimmers can help balance out some of our triggers or more intense moments.  The challenge is being able to recognise them in the busyness of day to day life!

As described in an article by psychologist, Theodora Blanchfield, titled ‘Glimmer: How to trigger feelings of joy and safety’, we live in an often overstimulating world, where we are pulled in multiple directions each day and can find ourselves trapped in the cycle of what we have to do without taking the time to appreciate the small moments in our day.  Glimmers are those cues in our day that give us safety and connection.  They are the positive thoughts that can help us regulate and keep things in perspective.

I believe that teaching the practice of identifying glimmers to our young people is important.  Like the adults in their lives, they too encounter an overwhelming world each day full of social interactions, academic expectations, emotions and thoughts they can’t quite make sense of and not to forget the hormones that begin to take hold.  Being on the look out for the good things, those small moments in their day that give them a positive feeling is something they can consciously do.  Quite often, our young people, whether 5 years old or 15 years old, can get caught in a negative thought pattern, focussing on what went wrong rather than what went right.  Assisting them to reframe their thoughts, focus on the moments of joy in the day or those small acts of kindness they witnessed or experienced, can assist our young people to focus on the positives and give them hope for the future and a sense of safety and connection.

As the final hectic few weeks of the school year approach, I know that I will be spending time looking for the glimmers and appreciating those small moments and kind gestures.