That Maria sure was on to something when she sang about "My Favorite Things"!

In recovery, as in life, often the great sensibilities we gather that help us assess our overall quality of life really do boil down to a collection of the littlest things imaginable.

Like – do we live in a beautiful place? (if we love nature)

Do we have at least one close friend we can confide in? (the average number of close confidantes most people have, according to the authors of the book “Connected,” is between 2 and 12)

Do we feel healthy and rested on a regular basis? (an inner sense of well being and life enjoyment go hand in hand)

Do we have some source of inspiration that moves us? (this could be work, family, a cause, etc – it will be different for each of us)

In the same way, your “little things” may be quite different from my “little things.”

For instance, I have a friend who just loves country music, boats, and football games.

We are good friends and I appreciate her. Yet all three of those things – things that she loves enough to spend nearly every available waking minute of her free time doing them – consistently rank right down near the bottom of my favorites list (side by side with root canals and taking my bird to the vet).

I do marvel at how our “little things” can be that different – but then again, thank goodness, right?! My own best friend only begrudgingly attends STING concerts with me, while I plan my year around them. She prefers Train concerts, which I will attend with her, but only because it makes her happy.

We are so different – so interesting – so unique – and our little things will necessarily be unique to us.

When I was recovering, I used to work on building my “little things” list. It helped me to develop a sense of personal identity apart from my eating disorder, my depression, and the anxiety I felt nearly constantly. I reasoned that if I could at least state with confidence whether I preferred hot or cold drinks, one pillow or two, or birds versus kittens (birds, every time) then I had a chance of one day collecting enough of those preferences to make a good case for choosing eating disorder versus life.

And I did. Today I have more than 10 years free from my eating disorder, and I am getting stronger against both the depression and the anxiety each day as well. As a mentor, I wrote an entire chapter in my book, “Beating Ana: how to outsmart your eating disorder and take your life back” called “The ‘New You.'” This chapter is totally dedicated to creating a self-questionnaire that asks such questions as “Do you prefer mornings or evenings?” with a straight face.

This is because the answers to these questions are important. Our “little things” can add up to everything – gratitude, the desire to give back, the will to fight, the vision to LIVE – if we are paying attention.

The fact is, those little things can mentor us right back to life again, if we are willing and will let them in.

Today’s Takeaway: What are your “little things”? Coffee? A beautiful sunrise? Your kids? The sight of your pet curled up in your lap or at your feet? If you resonate with this idea and you enjoy journaling, maybe try to start recording some or all of them in your journal, and notice how quickly they add up!





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    Last reviewed: 16 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2012). The Little Things. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 2, 2015, from



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