A person is riding the bus, surrounded by several others, with buildings rushing by out the window.

The bus is late and packed. You have an unfinished, overdue assignment in your bag. Someone a few rows up is yelling into their phone.

Now your phone buzzes — oh great. It’s your roommate: “The cat just barfed on your bed.”

You wonder how much worse this day will get before it even starts. Then, in the midst of these anxiety triggers, you remember something that can help: You start looking for glimmers.

Glimmers? What?!

The sun rises over a city skyline and bridge, with purple, pink, and yellow coloring the sky and a body of water. Photo by Wade Meng on Unsplash

A purple and pink sunrise.

Your rose-scented hand lotion.

A knowing nod from a stranger who’s also trapped in commuter chaos.

Deb Dana, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), came up with the term glimmers to describe these little encounters with joy, safety, and connection in daily life.

Glimmers are brief experiences that help your next breaths go past your chest and into your belly.

These Moments Are Rare, Right?

No, glimmers are common. And unlike triggers, glimmers help calm frayed nerves.

On the Ten Percent Happier podcast, Dana observed that you can look for glimmers anywhere, even when you’re not in a great place: “It doesn’t negate the suffering, but it reminds us that both can be present at the same time."

Yellow flowers grow along a brick wall. Photo by Ursula Castillo on Unsplash

Go on a Treasure Hunt for Those Glowy Moments

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You’ll need clues to point you in the right direction.

According to Dana and other experts who study the nervous system, your body sends you signals that it's calm. Notice what makes you feel:

  • soothed

  • content

  • protected

Act like a journalist. Reflect on feel-good moments, then do a little digging. Dana suggests thinking about the following:

  • who

  • what

  • when

  • where 

When do your shoulders relax? What makes your heart beat a little more slowly?

Remember: your glimmers might not be the same as someone else's.

Quiz: Hunting for Glimmers

You're still on the bus. Stewing about the cat, the crowd, and all the catch-up work to do, you look up as the bus screeches to the next stop.

You glance out the window. It's started raining, and there's tons of traffic.

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The inside of a crowded commuter bus.

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A window of a bus covered in raindrops, overlooking a city street crowded with yellow taxis in traffic.


Which view could offer glimmers? Select all that apply:

Engage Your 5 Senses

Take your brainstorming a step further and experiment! What do you touch, hear, taste, see, and smell in everyday life that creates feelings of happiness and security?

Here are some ideas to get you started:


A dog snuggling against someone on a couch. Hear

A bird singing in a tree on a sunny day. Taste

An animal sipping coffee. See

Stars sparkle in the night sky.


Cookies bake in an oven.

Is This a Glimmer?

A vase of orange flowers is on a wooden desk near a laptop. Photo by Jelena Ardila Vetrovec on Unsplash

Your coworker put a bouquet of fresh flowers between your desks. What makes it a glimmer for you?


Select all that apply:

Take Action

A person sits with their legs crossed and eyes closed, with a blue sky behind them and stars sparkling on their clothing

Capture and revel in life's bright moments!


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