Noticing Life’s Little Glimmers

Photo: Polina Kovaleva | Canva
Woman smiling holding flowers


The word itself evokes an expansiveness, an almost ethereal feel; a sense of ease and curiosity. When I first came across the term, coined by Deb Dana, LCSW, I was intrigued. Dana defines glimmers as “small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm.”

Having felt dysregulated and unsafe for so long, the idea resonated with me deeply. As I pondered the term and considered glimmers’ role in my day-to-day, I realized they were… everywhere.

Noticing Life’s Little GlimmersA glimmery moment in a yoga studio last fall. | Photo by author

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Between 2019 and 2022, my life felt upended. I’d been dealing with ongoing health issues and the ensuing doctor-hopping that arose. With each poke, prod, scope, and scan, I braced myself for the bad news. Sometimes it came, though a lot of the time things remained inconclusive.

Looking back, I hardly recognize the person I’d become. Once spontaneous, free-spirited, and open to whatever came, I turned into someone who was guarded, hypervigilant, always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

During the tail end of this period, I was also starting a freelance writing career. As I reflect now, I see this as a way to reclaim my normalcy; to redefine my identity amid the murky haze of uncertainty. Work became a coping mechanism, a way to prove myself through the incessant drudge of productivity.

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I’d long been familiar with the idea of triggers — triggering events, triggering foods, triggering people. I discussed triggers with my therapist and realized I had many. Once benign events — coming across photos of the “old” me, receiving invites to weddings or birthdays, scrolling through my social media feed — were enough to set me into a spiral of regret, worry, and inadequacy.

Looking back, I realize a lot of this was because I’d never allowed myself to process the grief of such a major change; to accept this new reality and the possibilities it offered, rather than try to cling to a future that no longer was.

Noticing Life’s Little GlimmersBeachy sunsets are among the most glimmery moments. | Photo by author

My healing journey has had its share of helpful discoveries, but one that stands out is the concept of glimmers. I suppose it’s a combination of the word’s connotation and the simplicity of the idea — the almost serendipitous qualities it entails. Glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Instead of eliciting the fight-or-flight nervous system response, they induce a sense of ease.

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There are no specific parameters for what glimmery moments may entail. For me, they’ve come up while visiting new yoga studios, coffee shops, parks, and libraries. They appear alongside the setting sun and twinkling stars in the night sky. I’ve also felt the power of glimmers while connecting deeply with a new or old friend — you know, one of those face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversations that make you lose track of time and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Glimmers are little whispers from the realm of possibility; unexpected comforting that say, “It’ll all be okay.” They also remind me that life isn’t about overcoming uncertainty but coexisting with it. Ultimately, glimmers have taught me that directing our attention to what feels beautiful and soul-nourishing is a key pillar of healing. Glimmers have always been there, I just had to look around and notice. And now that I do, I realize that glimmers are readily available, waiting to remind me of all that is joyous and abundant in this world.

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Brina Patel is a writer from Northern California. Her work has appeared in several outlets, including Well+Good, Verywell Mind, Business Insider, and Metro.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.