Giant List of Smiley, Joyful Things

Giant List of Smiley, Joyful Things

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:

Smile. Be happy
each night in your bed.
Count reasons to smile
with your sleepy head.
By making a list
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.


Ruth Kaiser

Ruth Kaiser is a preschool teacher, TED Talk speaker, children's author, AND the creator of the popular online art project where thousands of people find, photograph and share Smiley Faces they find in everyday objects.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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