What Are Glimmers?

The term “glimmer” was coined by US clinical social worker Deb Dana. Glimmers refer to small, seemingly insignificant moments in daily life which remind us that regulation, safety and connection is possible. Glimmers do not take away our pain or suffering, but they can remind us that our biology – our nervous system – is capable of holding suffering that is not yet resolved.


Glimmers Vs Triggers

Glimmers stimulate our parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system, which produces a sense of calm and relaxation – a sense that the world is OK, even for a fleeting moment. This is in contrast to triggers, which activate our sympathetic nervous system (our “fight or flight” response).


Examples of Glimmers

The things that bring us joy or satisfaction are highly subjective and specific. Each of us have our own set of experiences and values that have shaped (and continue to shape) our perceptions of the world around us. That being said, some glimmers might be:

  • Spotting a rainbow
  • A spectacular sunrise
  • Spending time in nature
  • Hearing your favourite song in the supermarket
  • The companionship of your pet
  • Doing something creative
  • Looking at a photograph of someone you love
  • The smell of cut grass


What Happens When You Feel a Glimmer?

While glimmers are brief, they are powerful experiences of heightened psychological and emotional awareness. A glimmer may feel like a sudden burst of inspiration, clarity, motivation – or even an epiphany that creates a shift in perspective or way of thinking. Such experiences can inspire creativity, productivity, meaningful relationships, and greater self-awareness.


How to Identify Your Glimmers

By actively seeking out and noticing glimmers, we can connect with joy and gratitude and inspire others. Identifying glimmers isn’t always easy – it can be hard to identify what ignites that spark within us. Some questions to reflect on are:


1. What Inspires You?

Take a moment to reflect on who – or what – inspires you and how. Is it a particular person who motivates you to pursue your passions? Is it a favourite book/ movie/ song that transports you to a new world or inspires you to think outside the box? Identify a person, place, or thing that makes you feel settled, safe and happy.


2. What Satisfies You?

Think about activities that make you feel satisfied and nourished. It could be as simple as organising your wardrobe or as difficult as solving a complex problem. Whatever the activity, notice how you feel during and after.


3. What Excites You?

Take note of when you feel energised and excited. Ask yourself, “What am I doing when I feel most engaged and alive?” Our emotions can be great indicators of our glimmers. If you feel excited, passionate, or energised about something – that may be a sign that it is a glimmer for you. Think about times when you felt particularly happy or fulfilled. What was happening during those moments?


In a Nutshell…

When you make a practice of noticing both the expected and unexpected pleasures in your life, you begin noticing the good more and more. This practice may not diminish the challenges or stresses in your life; however, attuning ourselves to what draws us towards feelings of safety and connection (versus what activates our threat response) can empower us to navigate challenging situations with greater ease and confidence.