Glimmers: The Bright Moments in Our Lives

September 29, 2023by Elise

In today’s times, the term “trigger” is frequently used and recognized by many. However, not everyone is familiar with its converse: the “glimmer” or as Elise likes to call them – “Pockets of Joy”.

First introduced by Deb Dana, a renowned clinical social worker with expertise in complex trauma, in her 2018 masterpiece “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy,” the term “glimmers” denotes those fleeting moments when our body biologically feels connected or regulated, sending signals to our nervous system of safety and tranquility.


Dana clarifies, “These aren’t massive waves of happiness or comfort. Rather, they’re subtle moments that gently mold our internal systems.”

And it seems the world is catching on. On social platforms like TikTok, posts discussing glimmers are garnering significant attention. With one particular video amassing over 78,000 likes, comments range from “This resonates so deeply!” to “My new cherished concept.”


Understanding Glimmers

So, what encapsulates a glimmer? It’s not just the moments that stir joy but those that ignite feelings of relaxation, security, connection, or an ephemeral sense that all is well with the world. Literally a pocket of joy.

Spotting a glimmer is as varied as our experiences:

– The serenity found in nature, whether it’s admiring your garden or stargazing.

– A passing smile from a stranger or the familiar timbre of a loved one’s voice.

– The solace in the company of pets.

– The serendipity of hearing your favorite song on the radio or chancing upon church bells.

Dana captures it perfectly, “It’s this internal shift. An energy surrounding a glimmer, then your brain earmarks it.”


The Power of Glimmers

Everyone can benefit from observing glimmers. Yet, for trauma survivors, it offers a distinctive advantage.

Dana reflects, “Glimmers have a profound respect for the pain trauma survivors endure. It reinforces the idea that, despite their past suffering, their biology can also pinpoint these minor instances of positivity.”

Amy Morin, a well-known clinical social worker, notes, “Our brain instinctively seeks out threats. While this was crucial when we had to fend off wild creatures, it’s less necessary now.”

Enter glimmers. By repeatedly acknowledging these moments of positivity, our system starts to realign. Recognizing these moments improves our mental health and overall well-being.

Morin adds, “Occasional moments of joy or relaxation can decrease emotional stress.” This, in turn, augments our logical thinking, enabling us to approach problems differently or push past challenges. “With reduced emotional distress, our actions tend to be more positive, enhancing our lives.”


Welcoming Glimmers into Our Lives

Recognizing a glimmer is one thing, but embracing it is another. However, it’s simpler than one might think.

Dana believes, “The more you acknowledge a glimmer, the more you seek. That’s the beauty of our nervous system. It gradually tilts towards these patterns of connection that lie dormant within, waiting to be reinvigorated.”

One strategy Dana proposes is setting a “glimmer intention.” For instance, “I aim to identify one glimmer by lunch.”

Starting small is key, especially for those for whom trauma has been a constant companion. Chronicling your findings in a ‘glimmer journal’ can also be therapeutic.

Moreover, as creatures of connection, sharing these discoveries with a friend or family member can amplify their effect. Dana explains, “By sharing, you breathe life into these glimmers.”

Morin advises, “Immerse yourself in these feel-good moments. Although they may be fleeting, trust in their power and the promise of more to come.”


By recognizing and embracing these ‘glimmers’, we allow ourselves to find moments of joy, connection, and peace in our daily lives.


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