50 Things That Make Me Happy

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.
– ­Carl Jung

I just finished my first read-through of a wonderful book, The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Filled with anecdotes from her own personal life and follow-up exercises for the reader, this is a book that I intend to keep by my bedside and refer to often.

I don’t believe in coincidences so I wasn’t surprised to turn to the chapter on Happiness the day after my break-up last week. In the writing prompt at the end of the chapter, Julia suggests creating a list of fifty things that make you happy.

Happiness is not only a mood. It is a decision. Writing our list of fifty happinesses causes us to see how simple some forms of joy are, how we can make ourselves happy in simple ways, Julia says. Happiness lists are also an effective deterrent for situational depression. When the blues set in, the simple act of listing joys can help elicit some.

Heart aching, tears flowing, the last thing I felt like doing last Wednesday was creating a list of fifty things that make me happy. But I did it anyway. And you know what? It helped.

Here is my list.

  1. Spending time with my son.
  2. Walking in the neighborhood.
  3. Playing the piano.
  4. Red wine.
  5. Dark chocolate.
  6. Dandelions.
  7. Lying in the sun.
  8. Cruising.
  9. The beach.
  10. Cutting up old magazines.
  11. Handmade soap.
  12. Herbs in pots.
  13. Chocolate chip cookies.
  14. Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson.
  15. Scented candles.
  16. Cooking Thanksgiving dinner.
  17. Baking bread.
  18. Popcorn.
  19. Lavender.
  20. Cinnamon.
  21. Words With Friends.
  22. Writing morning pages.
  23. Posting to my blog.
  24. Playing with make-up.
  25. Knitting.
  26. Reading.
  27. Gardenias.
  28. Making soup.
  29. Bright colors.
  30. Glitter.
  31. Getting a surprise in the mail.
  32. Cupcakes with sprinkles.
  33. Cute shoes.
  34. Day trips.
  35. Making jewelry.
  36. Getting organized.
  37. Writing thank-you notes.
  38. Studying French.
  39. Photography.
  40. Decorating my house.
  41. Watching movies.
  42. Breakfast at Waffle House.
  43. Sushi.
  44. Seashells.
  45. Making strawberry jam.
  46. Wrapping Christmas presents.
  47. Trying new restaurants.
  48. Dining al fresco.
  49. Fresh produce.
  50. My dog Karma.

Real life is persistent in its capacity to bring happiness, Julia concludes. It is difficult, even on the most miserable of days, not to grudgingly notice something that speaks of an enjoyable world. 

Replace the sad thoughts with happy ones? I can do that. And that reminds me: I think it’s time to dust off my Happiness Jar and start filling it up again.