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The Little Things - A 'Glimmer' of Hope

Have you ever felt a fleeting wave of calm and joy when engaging in something you truly enjoy? These moments, often small and fleeting, have the power to bring a sense of joy, nostalgia, or inspiration. Whether it's a gentle breeze on a summer day, a heartfelt conversation with a friend, or a quiet moment of self-reflection, these instances impact us profoundly. 


In life, we learn that challenges are unavoidable. While we may wish for constant happiness and want to avoid difficulties, hardships are a natural part of life. Our emotional spectrum is vast, so it's not about constant happiness but about creating numerous moments of joy. These moments of joy, as defined by Deb Dana, are called Glimmers.


Glimmers are tiny micro-moments of joy - they are small moments that spark emotions such as joy, peace, and safety. Deb Dana, an expert in working with complex trauma, introduced the term "glimmers" in 2018. She explained that glimmers activate the parasympathetic nervous system, leading to feelings of calmness and relaxation. They are the opposite of triggers which activate our sympathetic nervous system and elicit the fight, flight and freeze response. She said, “The thing I love about Glimmers is that working with trauma survivors, it's so respectful of their suffering. It allows them to understand that their biology is wired in a way that we don't discount the trauma or the crisis or the ongoing suffering, but we recognize that their biology is exquisitely set up to be able to also notice the micro-moments of goodness."


For some glimmers may look like taking in the sight of a beautiful sunset, a kind smile by a stranger, petting an animal, receiving a message from their best friend, or for some it may look like eating their favourite food, hearing their favourite music, or watching their favourite TV show or movie. In the long run, recognising and valuing small moments of joy can help strengthen emotional resilience and reduce hyperactivity in the nervous system.


Recognising and appreciating glimmers in our lives can truly make a significant impact on our overall well-being. These small moments of joy serve as gentle reminders that amidst the challenges and struggles we may face, there are still beautiful and positive experiences to cherish. By tuning into these micro-moments of goodness, we allow ourselves to cultivate a sense of gratitude and contentment, even amid adversity.


It is essential to understand that embracing glimmers does not diminish the significance of our hardships or invalidate our feelings of pain and suffering. It does not mean that we condone how a person’s experiences have made them ‘strong’. Instead, it encourages us to acknowledge the complexity of our emotions and the multifaceted nature of our experiences. By nurturing an awareness of the things that bring us comfort and happiness, we create space for healing and resilience to flourish within us.


Glimmers are all around us, but their fleeting nature can make them easy to overlook. Identifying our Glimmers can be a conscious practice, where we notice a faint sense of peace and happiness and try to note it down in our diary or phone. You may start the process by slowly reflecting on the things that have earlier made you happy, however, we mustn’t force ourselves to build a ‘list’. It can be an ongoing process of being mindful and conscious of the tiny moments that we may have ignored as mundane or part of our busy day (maybe your favourite cup of tea at the office).

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