What is a glimmer? And how can you find glimmers in your life every single day? Let’s talk about it.
According to Merriam-Webster, the word “glimmer” can mean a feeble or intermittent light or even a dim perception or inkling of an idea. And while the dictionary definition is certainly valuable, lately, I’ve been thinking of the word “glimmer” in a slightly different way.
A while back, I learned about the idea of a “glimmer” serving as the opposite of a trigger. Most of us are probably familiar with the idea of a trigger. Triggers can be small cues that bring up bad memories, bad feelings or past trauma. Once you see or encounter a trigger, it can entirely change your mood. And it can instantly have you feeling down, have you recalling painful times in your life, have you breathing heavily or even have you making different choices based on the chain reaction you experience in your mental and physical state. Triggers are, unfortunately, a part of life, and that’s not what this post is about. Instead, it’s about the other end of the spectrum from triggers … glimmers.
I’ve been coming across the idea of glimmers more frequently lately, and I’m so into it. I know that it’s fun and it’s worthwhile to look for the good in the world in your daily life. And it’s not always easy to do, especially if you’re stressed, busy, worried or depressed about something. But once you start to identify some glimmers, and you make the connection in your mind that these particular glimmers spark joy, you may find a little more positivity creeping into your life. And it’s not just a mental thing, it’s a physical thing too.
Let’s dig into what a glimmer is …
What is a glimmer and how to find one every single day
Glimmers give positive cues to your nervous system
Based on a little research, I found out that the popularity of the idea of a glimmer stems from work by therapist Dr. Deb Dana. In her book, “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation,” Dana shares that glimmers are cues that can actually jumpstart an autonomic shift in your body to feelings of safety and regulation via the vagus nerve and nervous system. Dana says:
Glimmers refer to small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm.
We’re not talking great, big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection, these are micro-moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways.
Without getting too scientific, these small glimmers are actually telling our nervous system that we are okay. Whereas triggers can tell our nervous system that we are not okay.
When we are okay, our shoulders drop down and back away from our ears, we lift our chest, we breathe deeply and slowly and our heart-rate normalizes. These are physical responses that keep us feeling good and keep us feeling relaxed and positive too.
Glimmers can be small
A glimmer doesn’t have to be big. It can be really small. In fact, I like the descriptor Dana uses for glimmers as “micro-moments.”
These micro-moments bring you joy. And they can be things that you seek out or experience in your everyday life resulting in an instant mood boost. That mood boost can begin a positive forward motion in your mindset and physicality for the rest of the day — and that’s powerful.
I’ve been noticing more and more glimmers lately, and I’ve felt the great effects, even on days when I’m not feeling 100 percent — due to stress, busy-ness, etc. One or two little glimmers always helps me to redirect.
Here are some example of glimmers …
Because we all have different life experiences, what’s a glimmer for one person may not be a glimmer for another. But here are some examples of possible glimmers or micro-moments of joy you could come across:
- Getting a hug from your partner when you wake up in the morning
- Snuggling with your pet
- Feeling the sand in your toes at the beach
- Watching the sunset outside in the fresh air
- Smelling freshly baked bread
- Letting the morning sunlight into your room on a beautiful day
- Spritzing on your favorite perfume
- Finding the perfect parking spot
- Taking the first sip of a fancy latte while sitting at a coffee shop
Here are some of my personal glimmers that I experience often …
These are little cues I come across quite often that literally melt my heart and make me feel safe, happy and relaxed:
- Watching a mom or dad holding the hand of their little one with a big backpack crossing the street on the walk to school
- Seeing a dog’s little head hanging out of the window on a car ride with their tongue dripping and their ears blowing in the wind
- Seeing Brady’s curly hair blowing in the wind
- Coming home from just about anything and being greeted by Rudy, who shakes, jumps and wags his tail like crazy upon my arrival
- Watching Dave and Brady build Legos together
- Driving through the neighborhood intersection by a school near Life Time, where the daily crossing guard has the biggest smile on his face and is directing traffic with lively movements (he makes my morning)
- Looking out at the faces of my class members while teaching group fitness and seeing their expression light up when I make eye contact with them from the stage
- Whenever anyone tells me I’m strong (this is my favorite compliment)
And those are a few of my micro-moments of joy. As you can see, a glimmer can be something super small, but if it matters to you, and it makes you feel good — it’s your glimmer. Nobody can tell you what will be a glimmer for you, only you can decide what feels right.
The point is that you actively see what these glimmers are and what they can do, and you let them do their magic with your body and mind. And instead of looking out for negative things, you’re looking out for positive things.
Identify your glimmers and seek them out
There’s a lot of tough stuff going on in the world right now, and there will be more going forward. While we can’t always be positive and happy, we can do our part to seek our opportunities to be joyful and share that with others. I think glimmers are a way to do that.
To quote Michael Jackson (Dave and I went to see “MJ The Musical” recently, so it’s top of mind), — “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” Maybe glimmers can help you make a change, and your change can help someone else, right?
My friend, thank you for reading this different type of post today. I’d like to send you off with a mission to identify your glimmers, let them make your day and improve your mood for the better. Then, try your best to come across these glimmers as much as you can, and spread that positivity around.
Be well, friend!
Other posts you may like
- Three helpful mindset shifts I’ve made recently
- We’re halfway through 2023: Here’s your midyear check-in (and how I’m doing)
Question of the day for you
What’s a glimmer that you look forward to in your day?