My giant list of smiley things
makes me smile every time I walk into my office.
I have a giant list of smiley things taped to the wall in my office. I started it when I took the class Awakening Joy. Discussing ways to be more joyful was a very pleasant way to spend one evening a week.
The first night we were told to spend 3 minutes writing down everything that made us happy. What fun! When the 3 minutes were over I was still writing away, just trying to get all the things down before I forgot one while writing another.
A lot of people struggled. Not me. I needed another 3 minutes or even 30 minutes! Undercooked brownies, sunny days, 3 day weekends, jigsaw puzzles, singing, bubble bath, Scrabble, thick socks, sunglasses, Velcro, bobble-heads, strike anywhere matches. G.P.S., N.P.R. and the O.E.D.. L.O.L. I couldn’t stop. I needed more time, more paper.
Pausing to notice that something is pleasurable is the secret to being happier. But you have to decide to notice. It really is a decision! By labeling a thing or an activity as joyful, it becomes more so. Talk to yourself with the voice in your head. I do. Let your Internal Optimistic Narrator really get into describing your gratitude. As I sink in to the bath I say, “I love hot water.” As I slip between the sheets I sing, “Bed, glorious bed. Soft, fluffy and flannel.” (to the tune of Food, Glorious Food from the musical Oliver). As I put down my empty glass I say, “Boy, do I love cold water.” I don’t do this once; I do it every time. My Internal Optimistic Narrator tries to never miss a chance to rejoice.
Making a giant list of happy things is really fun. I transferred mine onto butcher paper and hung it up. Every day or two I think of something else to add: triple washed spinach, the smell of a cat’s tummy, the Statue of Liberty, glow in the dark anything, hot fudge, the hammock, toast, getting my back scratched, the Beatles, peanut butter . . . Onto my list I’ve taped fortune cookie fortunes, little notes my kids have left for me and headlines & snippets from newspapers. I notice something delightful and think to myself, “I’ve got to write that on my list when I get home,” It made me smile right then and again as I‘m writing and remembering it. Because of the list I end up with double the pleasure.
Being happier can be an ongoing, conscious exercise/choice available to everyone, but only if you decide that it is. Making a list of smiley joyful things with your child will help you both take more notice of life’s million pleasures and to feel more gratitude.
Here’s a few lines from an upcoming book of mine about helping children to express gratitude:
each night in your bed.
Count reasons to smile
with your sleepy head.
of joys 1 through 10
You’ll feel the joy
again and again.
Smile. Be Happy. Ruth
Ooops, I forgot avocados, comfy headphones, rechargeable batteries, flip flops, dancing in the kitchen, dental floss, a new box of markers, stories on the couch. Did I say books? Yes, books, too. I love everything!
Well, everything but the vacuum cleaner.