Maybe it’s because I’m short.

It started because I have an older cousin. She lived two and a half hours away, which seemed like a lifetime away when I was a child. She always seemed so cool and put together…but, I knew that eventually I would get a chance to be cool and put together too because eventually those clothes would be mine. And sure enough, eventually a big bag of clothes would come home with us and there would be all the clothes I’d been waiting for at least a year.

But she wasn’t the only one, a couple of other friends gave me hand-me-downs too.

I’ve heard lots of stories of people who had to wear hand-me-downs and how they wished they could have new clothes but this is not my relationship with hand-me-downs. I could have new clothes and usually did. I can have new clothes now and often do, but I hate to shop. I especially hate to shop for clothes, but I love hand-me-downs. It’s a huge bag of clothes I didn’t expect, didn’t pay for, didn’t have to sort through racks of clothes for hours on end and didn’t feel forced into a decision standing in a dressing room picking myself apart from every conceivable angle.

I get to try them on in the comfort, privacy and leisure of my own home, hold on to them as long as I want before I decide whether or not to keep them and I don’t have to pay a penny for them. So, I’m not sure why the hand-me-down habit followed me into adulthood, but it did and between the clothes and the little gifts friends and family have given me over the years I am often reminded of something crucially important.

I am loved.

I can look down on most days and see shoes from one friend, at least one other article of clothing someone else gave me, the engagement and wedding band from my husband, rings and bracelets from my parents. Charms and jewelry my children bought for me with my money from school fairs. From head to toe I am clothed in love and when I take the time to notice and to bask in it, I can feel their arms around me, supporting me and caring about me.

And it’s these moments, these moments of noticing things that already are, that exist right now but that we often just overlook, that make a difference. When we tune into these seemingly little things and we can feel the love or the joy or the peace, we begin to change. We create a neurological state and the more we create that state the more we influence and shape the brain in that direction, the happier, more joyful, more peaceful we become. It’s these little steps that gradually, imperceptibly over time buffer us against stress, anxiety and depression and improve the quality of our lives.

So look, pay attention. Where is the good? It’s there, hiding in the background like a find-the-hidden-picture puzzle waiting to be found.