What is a glimmer and how to find it amid our mundane existence?

We’re all heart eyes for the latest trend that’s taken over social media—here’s why.

30 August, 2023
 What is a glimmer and how to find it amid the annoying quirks of our often mundane existence?

Think about how many times in a day you let out an exasperated sigh when something doesn’t go your way or roll your eyes in sheer annoyance when an unintended, light-hearted trigger bothers you—missing the elevator on an already-delayed and hectic morning, the last croissant at a café, a conference call that could have been an email or anything else. We often focus on the little annoyances of our day-to-day lives, and it leaves us feeling frustrated and negative. So, when a new trend of letting go of the triggers and embracing glimmers surfaced on social media, we heaved a sigh of relief and beamed with joy. Intrigued by the glittery sound of the term, we took it upon ourselves to understand what they are, why they are important, and how they can go beyond an Instagram trend to become a significant part of our daily lives. 

What are glimmers? 


We’re all too familiar with the term trigger but are unaware about its counterpart, glimmer. According to USA Today, the term was coined by clinical social worker Deb Dana, who explains it as, “Glimmers refers to small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm. We're not talking about great, big, expansive experiences of joy or safety or connection, these are micro-moments that begin to shape our system in very gentle ways." 


Similar to the concept of micro joys, glimmers are moments of calmness, safety, solace, and, sometimes, joy that can be found in different spaces, forms, and structures. Glimmers can mean different things to different people: sharing a warm smile with a stranger, a quote that you came across accidentally but became a sign, the smell of freshly brewed coffee or even the rays of the sun touching your skin during the golden hour. When the term took hold on TikTok and Instagram, users began sharing the glimmers and moments of joy that they found in their day. Some even took it upon themselves to share a list of glimmers that helped them cope on hard days—warm socks on a cold day, squeezing in time to read before you sleep…you get the drift. 

Why should we focus on them?


A deep dive into the meaning of the term has left us smiling ear to ear; we can only imagine how these glimmers can do wonders to our otherwise mundane existence. We’ve all wished we lived the romanticised versions of our lives and glimmers are here to remind you that you can—smile amid chaos, stare into the sunset, and dance a little each day. What’s more? Glimmers can be extremely beneficial to the mental and emotional well-being of everyone, particularly those who have experienced trauma. 

According to the New Zealand Herald, “Glimmers allow you to see that maybe it was a day with hard moments, but there were also some good moments. It creates a sense of coping with hardships or maybe a buffer from those hard times, so you don’t feel as heavy.” The idea of glimmers primarily revolves around paying attention to tiny, positive moments in our lives, which gives us a much-needed break from uncomfortable emotions, anxiety, and stress. When our stress levels are reduced, we are also able to tackle the challenges at hand with a calm and composed approach.

When it comes to those dealing with past trauma, Dana tells USA Today that, “The thing I love about glimmers is that, working with trauma survivors, it's so respectful of their suffering. It allows them to understand that their biology is wired in a way that we don't discount the trauma or the crisis or the ongoing suffering, but we recognise that their biology is exquisitely set up to be able to also notice the micro-moments of goodness." 

Glimmers also allow us to channel gratefulness on days when we think nothing is going our way and enable a more positive approach to various aspects of our lives.

How can we embrace glimmers?


We’ve been lopsided-ly conditioned into paying attention to the negatives and harmless triggers that we encounter in our day. Think of how easily we’re able to focus on all the negative and not-so-great moments of the day. Now think of how pleasant you would feel if you focused on the exact opposite instead. While noticing the small, positive moments in your day can seem hard at first, the more you do it, the more you want to do it, and the easier it becomes. “We then delight in finding them. That's your nervous system beginning to shape toward the patterns of connection that are inherently waiting in there to be deepened and brought alive,” says Dana. 

You can begin by setting a few goals for the day. For example, make a conscious choice of finding a glimmer before you have your next meal or try and incorporate an activity you know will make you feel at peace, safe, and comfortable. This may become easier if you have a friend, partner or family member to share the experience with you.

To inculcate this as a habit, you can even try maintaining a glimmer journal and writing down the positive moments in your day or week. The beauty of glimmers is that it’s got little to do with being over-the-top, swoon-worthy, and overtly romantic. They’re experiences that make you feel a moment of solace in a rather anxiety-inducing world. We hope this is your sign to smile a little more and embrace the magic of glimmers.