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In 2001, I saw a French film called Amélie about a young woman enchanted by the world. Her life focused on simple pleasures—the crack of a spoon on a fresh crème brûlée, the feel of plunging her hand in a sack of dried beans, her favorite people’s quirks, and the satisfaction of helping others. Recently, I’ve been thinking about Amélie and her moments of joy and connection when I hear about glimmers.  

We know about triggers—words, situation, and events that can put people in states ranging from discomfort to outright anxiety attacks. We don’t know much about glimmers, which can bring about peace, contentment, and a sense of wellbeing, but thankfully, the good word is getting around.  

The idea of glimmers was originated not by a quirky young Frenchwoman with a penchant for indulgent desserts, but by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker whose work focuses on trauma. In her 2018 book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation. Dana describes glimmers as “tiny moments of goodness.” Though the moments that bring them on may be fleeting, such as watching a sunrise or hearing a child giggle, they help us relax, feel at peace, and be more receptive. And, in addition to making us happier, glimmers can have a profound effect on your health. 

Triggers put our bodies in fight or flight mode, the stress response. The brain signals a flood of cortisol, adrenaline, and glucose through the body. Breathing becomes short and quick to prepare you for action. Blood pressure goes up, but digestion and tissue repair are halted. 

Think of glimmers as the opposite of triggers, gifting us with a sense of calm, a gentle smile, and a feeling that, for the moment, all is well in our own world. And, just as triggers can have an adverse effect on our health, glimmers can have a positive effect on our bodies as well as our minds. Glimmers gently spark the parasympathetic nervous system, the body’s relaxation response: blood pressure’s nice and normal, breathing is calm, hormones are regulated, and all systems are chugging happily along. Being aware of glimmers and their effects can be an important part of a toolkit for daily living. Shifting my focus to glimmers has led to experiencing them more frequently, and being aware of the effects brings on a greater sense of wellbeing. 

Glimmers can be unique to you. While one person may regard the first snowfall with grumbles about having to shovel the driveway, another may experience enchantment. That’s a glimmer. Cuddling up with a pet can be a glimmer. The sound of birds singing can be a glimmer (recent studies suggest birdsong has a positive effect on mental health). And of course, we finally have a name for that feeling of finding the perfect yarn for a new project. 

If you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, here’s an idea: create a glimmer book. Get a notebook with a beautiful cover. If you like to draw or paint, make it a pretty sketchbook. Then, start a list of your known glimmers. Here are a few thoughts: 

  • Knitting—one of the coziest activities in the known universe
  • Smooshing soft, fuzzy yarn
  • The satisfaction of starting a project, or finishing one
  • Your morning coffee or tea
  • Watching your pet stretch in the sunlight
  • Gardening and being in nature
  • A beautiful sky at sunrise, sunset, or filled with stars 
  • Warm slippers
  • Reading a physical book (with the paper’s lovely, slightly vanilla scent)
  • Watching a favorite movie—maybe a charming French film about a girl who lives by glimmers? 

Now that you know about glimmers, you can be more aware of them when they occur and even cultivate them when you need them. These “micro moments” of goodness may be fleeting, but their effects are long lasting, and just what we need right now. 

What are your glimmers? Share them in the comments. 

Article Images are publicity stills from the film AmÉlie.

About The Author

Suzan Colón is a writer, a reader of the tarot, and a teacher of MedKNITation, a system she developed for meditation with knitting and crochet.


  • I love this. Actually I always love your writing. And I finally have a name for my little moments of joy, which I always recognise and try to hang on to :). I’ve never seen Amelie, but I think she would have felt like a kindred spirit.

    • Love this. Am sharing with my beloved knitting friends and my Social Work colleagues!
      Thank you

    • My Glimmers: opening a new box of charcoal pencils, smelling a new sketchbook pad, just out of the oven chocolate chip cookies, finding a box that arrived from MDK, singing to myself in the car, simple time alone
      Love this article

  • I have a favorite album that I often listen to in order to get to sleep: Stillness and Sweet Harmony, by the Cambridge Singers. The first few notes spark a glimmer in my heart, and each successive song (assuming I am still awake to hear it) renews the sparkly-calm feeling.

    I absolutely love this concept – how positvely life-changing!

    • Thanks! I just asked Alexa to play the Cambridge Singers…having my morning coffee. Double glimmer.

  • I love the idea of glimmers and believe in their power. One glimmer for me is the quiet mornings when I’m awake and the rest of the world is asleep — whether I go for a run or write or read a wonderful MDK blog doesn’t matter much — just the peaceful predawn time brings me joy.

  • The opening notes of Clair d’Lune…and Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

  • My daughter struggles w depression. Every day, we ask each other, “what will be your glimmer today?” So we plan for one and make it happen.

  • My knitting, morning coffee, early hours when the world’s still asleep, sitting outside and listening to nature, an unexpected text from brother, nephew, friend, a card from a friend, looking at old photos. There are lots I need to savor them more! Loved that film! Thanks for reminding me to be more mindful of everyday moments of joy…like wearing socks that don’t match (I like to see who notices) LOL

  • Ah, Suzan! Thank you for the insight about glimmers. A sense of wonderment is what makes life worth living!

  • Mine are many, but my favorite and best is to get my body into the sea at any weather and temperature, however short it may be. Learned to control breathing when stepping into cold water, and now it works like an immediate vagustrigger. Makes me deeply calm and peaceful in a minute.
    Happy to live close to the sea, but know of people who put an old bath tub in their garden to enjoy their cold water daily.
    Highly recommend this. And no: Strangely I do not feel cold at any time, not even with frosty temperatures. Bodies can do magic 😀

  • Glimmer moments for me include listening to 60’s music while driving on a road trip and that quiet early morning coffee while my family sleeps.

  • Love this and all your writing and interviews Suzan. I passed this to my daughter to read, she’s a recent graduate from Smith with an MSW. We agreed we would look up Deb Dana who so cleverly named this idea that we can relate to.

  • Early morning coffee
    My dog greeting me when I wake up
    Stars in the sky
    Reading a really good book
    My plants

    Now that I’ve begun this list I realize it is an endless list of gratefulness

    Thank you for this lovely Glimmer.

  • Reading things that make me smile, while drinking coffee madefor me and listening to music of my teenage years (Crosby Stills and Nash)

  • My favorite glimmer is the sunlight reflecting on the ripples in the pond in front of our house. I’ve never had a good name for it, but it’s absolutely a glimmer. Also, a beautiful orangey sunset.

    • I read that the Greeks called those fragments of light on water Kυμάτων ἀνήριθμον γέλασμα. There are various treanslations; “the many-twinkling smile of ocean” and “countless waves of laughter” are two.

      • This is beautiful! thanks so much

  • I believe there’s “a gift everyday and I usually find mine in Nature.
    A gift, a glimmer….such lovely , tiny experiences.
    Namesta ….

  • Thank you for this posting. I think it’s a really important one….one that everyone should read. Regularly.

  • Train whistles. No idea why but every time I hear a train whistle I feel like I am home and safe.

  • Knitting while listening to an audio book

    Seeing a bird I didn’t expect on a birdwalk.

    Seeing a bird in excellent lighting that shows off its colors beautifully, like bluebirds and indigo buntings, or robins at sunset whose breasts look bright red.

  • I finally have a word to describe the feeling whenever I look at a full moon. My husband always comments “What’s the Big Deal?” I asked him to read the article and he now understands. I asked him for one of his Glimmers. Of course it was football related.

  • Thanks for reminding me about Amélie and glimmers! I needed that today. I see glimmers as a precursor to flow. Makes me feel positive about how the day will unfold.

  • I work in a public library – wee glimmers all around to be surrounded by books – and occasionally I will hear the joyful giggle of a child. There is no better sound. You actually stop what you’re doing to listen.

  • Among other things, I am a knitting teacher. In my classes, I often talk about my ‘cartwheel moments’ which I now know as glimmers. The subject comes up when I see someone creating stitches and knitting, who couldn’t do that just a few moments before. I now realize that the cartwheels (and celebration) in my head are glimmers. Just thinking about THAT is a glimmer!

    • Puppies, old dog faces, a child’s giggle, a handwritten letter. Fabulous article.

      • Yesterday morning I walked into Huntley Meadows Park (a wetlands preserve in Northern Virginia) and just felt – This is good for my soul- the quiet, the autumn colors and the crisp air – were all a glimmer for me.

    • The idea of “glimmer moments” is just lovely, and I love the idea of “cartwheel moments,” like glimmers on steroids. For example, a glimmer moment is recalling eating a Berthillon salted caramel ice cream on Ile St. Louis, a cartwheel moment would be booking a flight to Paris and getting an upgrade to go eat another one. I will definitely use both of these in future to mark the big and little moments of contentment and joy.

      • My husband and I had the best chocolat chaud of our lives on the Ile St. Louis. Thanks for the reminder.

  • I live on glimmers. A lot of them have to do with contented cats purring or sleeping in a sunbeam and performing a languorous stretch. Also many in nature, I love to take time smell the scent of the ginger plant in bloom outside my gate or any scented plant. It’s like an infusion for my soul.

  • This is REAL self care that calms the fight/ flight/freeze mechanism at a deep level. Thank you.

  • You have many of mine on your list already. Another is that first moment when you slip into bed on clean sheets.

  • Spinning a well prepared wool; dipping my hands into a fine fleece; finishing a project knitted or woven from my handspun yarn.

  • My glimmers – my 10-year old dog walking up to me with her wide eyed puppy look cause she just needs some pets; the 2-year old Aussie jumping down from the couch to lay across my feet and keep my toes warm. Bliss!

  • Gifting a knit. Hearing an owl. Baking snickerdoodles. Eating a fuyu persimmon. Feeling the pool water lap against me once I’ve warmed up.

    I notice these glimmers, but I will pay special attention now – thank you!

  • Sunsets. We have the most beautiful sunsets, and we will call each other to the window when we catch one, to share the beauty for a moment (or for multiple times as the sunset changes). Definitely a glimmer. And the moon on clear nights, shining through the trees, another glimmer we share (sometimes in the middle of the night if we’re both awake – our bed sits under an uncovered window).

  • My two year old grandson attempting to say “I love you”.

  • Great article. My glimmers include noting the clouds and sky on a daily run, my daily run, my cat coming up to snuggle on the sofa at night and doing the daily word puzzles in the NY Times.

  • So that’s the name for that feeling! Things that bring a smile to my face and make me feel relaxed and that all is right in my world: fireflies, snow falling in fresh mounds, my cat laying beside me so I can pet her, the smell when I open a fresh bag of coffee and that first sip.

  • At last! A name for those moments that bring me up suddenly with a jolt of joy — “surprised by joy,” I’ve called them, stealing the name from a favorite book title. The most recent: having a friend’s three-month-old give me a huge smile; my cat putting her head under my hand to demand some loving. And recovering my love of knitting after a year of medical mayhem and lack of enjoyment in nearly everything.

  • What a beautiful little article! Thank you. Beside the ones mentioned anything to do with the sunset and wildlife. A few others on my list … the smell of clean pajamas, home bread with real butter, hand knit socks, artwork and poetry that speaks to humanity. So appreciate the reminder to notice!

  • I have a couple of work-related glimmers that are quite ephemeral. One is seeing the numbers on pivot tables update when I hit refresh. Another is stamping the date on my calendar. I custom-designed it without the date just so I can use my date stamper.

  • Sunshine after a succession of rainy, overcast days.
    The sound of my cat’s “thank you” chirp when I open the door for him.
    The first movement of a fan during a hot flash.
    The instant of connection with a new book.

  • This makes me consider William Wordsworth’s I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and Jonah Lehrer’s Proust was a Neuroscientist.

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
    When all at once I saw a crowd,
    A host, of golden daffodils;
    Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
    Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    The first captures the experience. The second notes that creative expressions of experience often precede, by many years, the scientific “conformation” of those experiences. The link between fragrance and memory in Proust’s madeleines has been “validated” by scientific observation of fragrances as triggers for memory.

    Glimmers are not exotic or expensive. We can find them in everyday life.

    (Though it is unseasonably cold here today and I am thinking of friends who are in Hawaii on vacation.)

  • What an exquisite reminder for us all to savor the small and large experiences of life that we encounter daily. A lovely reminder to “feel where our feet are”!

    • I like this phrase. My glimmer today. Heart.

  • Lovely article! I have so many glimmers, many of which are already listed. My absolute melt-my-heart glimmer is rocking my grandbaby, which I got to do last Saturday. Priceless!

  • The moment a student understands.

  • Thank you for this. Beautiful and it motivates me to notice the glimmers in my life.

  • Lovely article! Yes, finally a name for those moments and a nudge to focus on them.

  • This was a lovely article. Thank you for writing on such a great subject. My glimmers are seeing my greyhound smiling at me (no kidding, they really do!), the faces of my grandchildren, the fall leaves, and the deep contentment I feel when my husband hugs me.

  • I love the idea of drawing attention to the glimmers! I’ll be sure to take note of mine more often. (Side note – this playlist gives me glimmers. )

  • I LOVE the idea of glimmers. Thank you!

  • Thank you for this beautiful article a.k.a glimmers!!!

  • My glimmers…a moment in time when I’m listening to my hours long list of Faves I’ve collected on Spotify (everyone I love from Willie Nelson to Diana Krall to Jon Batiste) while knitting; my husband, son and doggie are doing well…. Couldn’t ask for anything more other than world peace…

  • Catching moonrise unexpectedly. The scent of fallen pine needles baking in the sun. Opening a guitar case. New ink, new sheet of paper, old fountain pen.

  • Glimmers was the best thing to wake up to today.
    I loved the article, the glimmers and the story behind glimmers.
    Some of my favorites are the simpliest things in life
    Sunrises, sunsets, beautiful trees, being with friends and just enjoying grateful moments.

  • Taking a hike in nature, watching my dogs enjoy it with me. Spending time with my children and grandsons. A beautiful sunset. Knitting with wonderful yarn. Painting, and getting that flow, when you know it’s really good. A cup of green tea. A good movie or book. Glimpsing a deer, or other wild animal, especially an eagle or cougar. A good meal. Sitting in the sunshine.

  • looking at humans’ amazing creativity ay this is colossal dot com, and if i need something to really lift me up this video of the strutting pigeon!

    • This was SO fun to watch! Thank you.

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I have enjoyed the Slowdown podcast since I discovered it a few weeks ago. It is only about 5 minutes long, and it is a daily glimmer.
  • Loved the article and the ‘thoughts’ that are ‘glimmer’. She made you think about the simple things that take you to a ‘warm & fuzzy’ place.

  • Thank you for this! Now I have a name for what I feel often in my new home—the layers of colors on the trees in the valleys, the sight of my dog proudly carrying his junk mail trophy from the mailbox to the house, the pleasure in having exactly the right appliance or utensil to bake what I’d like. I’ll be more vigilant of those glimmers now.

  • I’m still reading this, but I must say – Amelie is such a treasured film for me! Every time I eat creme brulee, I think of her and this film. I’ll watch it tonight, most likely, cause I could use its glimmer right now.

  • This summer it was hearing canning jars “ping” after an evening of making salsa or jam or canning staples like green beans or tomato sauce.

    This winter my glimmers will be enjoying a taste of summer when we open jars of strawberry jam, watermelon jelly, cantaloupe jam or even apple butter.

    Probably need to ship some to far-flung friends and family so they can enjoy some glimmers as well.

  • I love it when the rising sun hits the hillside outside my kitchen window just right—no matter what the season, the colors glow.

  • Current glimmer — holding a 3 month old baby while she sleeps while watching 6 other babies crawl around and explore their worlds — at the daycare in my apartment building — where I volunteer a few hours a week to hold the infants. Best volunteering gig ever and each time a glimmer.

  • I have been pondering this since I read your message yesterday. Many of the glimmers you mentioned I have enjoyed over the years, but this morning it hit me — one of the best things I enjoy for a moment of random peace is stopping to smell a rose or two when I pass a blooming bush. Some have wonderful scent and others have very little scent. The phrase ‘stop and smell the roses’ has many meanings. Next time you are out and about and see a rose – stop and take a sniff – it is wonderful for the soul.

  • Dog on my lap. Laughter with my children. The last “good night” with my husband before sleep. A pink sunrise. Spotting a friend across a distance and recognizing that we are happy to see each other. Sewing in the last end on a knitting project and holding it up for admiration. Facetiming with my small nephew and nieces and hearing them say my name.

  • Thank you! I have just been learning about Glimmers and triggers with my new yoga teacher. I will have to share this article with her.
    The glimmers you list are so similar to my own, in particular the pets, knitting, coffee, a real book, and warm slippers. Oh and a beautiful sunrise or sunset here on the east coast of Canada!

  • Thank you! Barbara, who helps me with knitting shared this. I love it and will definitely pay more attention to glimmers!

  • Thank you for this article. It is so rewarding thinking about glimmers during one’s day.

  • I stumbled across a quote when I was a teenager that has been my motto ever since: “Recognize joy when it arrives in the plain brown wrappings of everyday life.” (Judith Viorst) Glimmer seems like the same concept but far more concise.

    My glimmers are the same as many have mentioned: my children, my pets, being in nature. It also explains why, when I’m heading into a difficult or stressful situation, I bring my latest project even if I know I won’t have opportunities to knit. Just looking at our touching yarn brings me peace.

  • Oddly, coming around the corner and seeing the kitchen counters wiped down and clear of clutter!

    I’ll pay more attention for the glimmers now, thank you!

  • Watching the sun rise while having my morning cup of tea

  • “Glimmering” sounds like a new word to describe good, old fashioned “counting your blessings”.

  • I absolutely love this! I have been experiencing glimmers all my life, but could never put a name to it to describe the feeling. Now when my husband thinks I’m weird because I smile when I’m sqooshing yarn, I’ll have a good answer to give him!!

  • The coo of my sleeping cat… the sound of raking leaves… quietly hand stitching to repair a favorite worn piece of clothing… looking through my “land of dreams” – a yarn and fabric stash that awaits my retirement in a year or so.

  • Ditto for me on many of the comments listed already, but I’ll add:
    doing a puzzle

  • Hugging a friend and really leaning into it, feeling them lean into me.
    My Christmas cactus bursting into bloom.
    Discovering something beautiful and unexpected, like a bright red leaf in a pile of brown ones.
    Coming home to a bowl of soup after a long, foggy day.
    Noticing the beauty in ordinary moments, like the way the dogs fur lays just so, and how her white fur shines, almost iridescently.
    Glimmers- I love this.

  • I recently bought the steel storage box without quite knowing what I would use it for. It holds ALL of my beads, of all sizes. I was kind of embarrassed about how thrilling I found it to plunge my hand into the beads and whoosh them around. But now I know it’s a glimmer and respectable.

  • Listening to the rain as I’m curled up in a blanket.

  • My glimmers: my husband & the rest of the family; crafting in many forms; each breath and step I’m able to take.

  • Love this!! Reminds me of This is Water by David Foster Wallace, I think it’s so great to stop and notice the good things around us, and all the simple pleasures ☺️

  • Thank you. I’m going to try to pay attention when my glimmers come around.

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