Keep Track of Life’s Little Joys with a ‘Happy List’

beth July 23, 2013

Image by Rusty Clark

By Matthew Forte, Contributing Writer

So often we think that life is made up of big (and stressful) events–family vacations, birthdays, and holidays. But a quick look around will reveal that our lives are much more than a series of these large-scale events. There are beautiful things in our day-to-day coming and going. Slowing down to look for these little moments that make up our lives will help us cultivate an attitude of thankfulness. Taking a quick inventory of my blessings is a good way to shrink my list of wants and make me see that I have all I need, and oftentimes, more.

Besides helping us appreciate what we already have, making note of the little things that make us happy gives us lists that are a lot of fun to read through to remind us of little events or situations that we easily forget.

My wife and I have started making Happy Lists to keep track of all the things that put smiles on our faces. There are only two rules: we must add one item each day, and we must number each item. That way, we can look at our lists and quickly see how many things we can be thankful for.

What it Looks Like

Your Happy List can look however you want. You can write a paragraph with details each day, or you can create a simple list. Here is an excerpt of my list:

  • Watching our black labradoodle chase a tennis ball
  • My wife’s messy hair when she’s just out of bed
  • The smell of fresh-cut grass
  • Washing dishes
  • The morning’s first sip of coffee in a quiet house
  • Every smile from our 5-month-old son
  • Playing piano when the house is empty
  • Walking barefoot in the grass
  • Homemade ice cream!

While the Happy List is usually a personal project, it can easily involve the whole family. One variation involves every family member creating their own lists and then meeting as a family once each month around a campfire with s’mores to share those lists. Another variation could include keeping the Happy List in one central location and encouraging each family member to write their Happy items on slips of paper and place them in a large jug or Mason jar.

As we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements and commercials telling us we won’t be happy unless we spend a pile of money on things that won’t make us happy anyway, it’s both healthy and wise to write down what makes us happy. It may save us some money too.

What benefits do you think you’d see if you kept track of the things that make you happy? What’s the first thing you’ll add to your Happy List?

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1 Comment

  1. Many years ago I read in a new age book to list at least three things from that day that you are grateful for in your daily journal entry. At first I had to really think about it but then it got easier and easier. On good days I can go on and on. I find that it improves my overall attitude to be thinking about what I am grateful for.


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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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