Robert Brault said, “Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”

As we open new calendars, it’s natural to look back and take stock. Were there meaningful moments? Did I meet goals I set? Is my health were I want it? Did I have fun? Did I learn a new skill?

A few years ago I set a goal to photograph sunsets several times per week. Noticing the light, colors and seasons challenged me to look for something good enough to earn a camera click. Through the year, day by day, photo by photo, I improved a skill, observed changing seasons and discovered that some of the more spectacular sunsets happened in winter – when it’s cold, dark and stark.

Funny thing is you can notice a moment when you’re in it, but when you capture it and then revisit it, it becomes fresh again. We think we’ll remember the things that move us, but thoughts and experiences are fleeting. When you photograph it, or write it down, it sticks around. When you review it later, it’s even stickier. I still appreciate the pictures because they are part of my computer screensaver. But more, I value the accomplishment of achieving.

Our brains are hardwired to perform at their best, not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive. Researchers found that people who wrote down three good things each day for one week were happier and less depressed on follow up visits one month, three months and even six months later. When you record a daily list of the good things in your life, your brain is forced to scan the last 24 hours for potential positives – laughter, feelings of accomplishment, connections with others, a welcome from your pet, glimmers of hope, a beautiful sunset, a song well sung, a compliment, a great bite of food…whatever. Use that new calendar to force your brain to look for the good. When you focus on the little things that are positive you become more skilled at seeing it, while pushing out annoyances and frustrations. It’s easy to forget that happens in a year, but these notes help you look back and see a powerful year of accomplishments!

Small things add up to big results health wise, too. Just thirty minutes of physical activity a day boosts overall health, even done in 10-minute segments.

It’s also the little things on your plate. Fiber from a variety of beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetable improves your gut microbiome. And those vegetables may be the next best thing since sliced bread. Recently researchers found that people who ate a serving of leafy green vegetables a day maintained a sharper mind as they aged. Compared with those who rarely eat the greens, the folks who ate a cup of raw (or half-cup cooked) of spinach, broccoli, bok choy, kale, or collard greens got more vitamin K, folate and lutein, which helped slow brain aging or cognitive decline by 11 years. This small study doesn’t prove that vegetables are a ‘magic bullet’ but does add to the list of benefits of healthier eating and being physically active over the long term. One cup. Ten minutes. Isn’t that the truth? It’s the little things.

This Everything Seasoning blend is like that. The seeds and flavoring on their own don’t add up to much. But together they make things taste better. Sprinkle it on baked potatoes, hummus, scrambled or hard-cooked eggs, sandwiches, plain yogurt, popcorn, sliced cucumbers or tomatoes or avocado toast.

Judy Barbe is a registered dietitian, speaker and author of “Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest: Simple Solutions for Fresh Food & Well-Being.” Visit her website www.LiveBest.info for every day food solutions.

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