Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hallmarks of Happiness

Lately I have been extremely happy. I feel guilty admitting that when I know so many people who are struggling right now. But why am I so happy? I had to ask myself the same thing because I had no idea. There really has been no change in my situation—no dramatic shift in my circumstances. I still have three children, live in the same house, and am married to the same guy— essentially the same routine I have had for the last three years. So I did what I do best:

I made a list of what makes me happy.

(Yes, my husband makes fun of my love of listing. Rightfully so. It’s chronic.)

I speed-wrote 30 things. The list came surprisingly fast—I was done within 5 minutes—but the most surprising thing was the list was full of things I had never considered before because they seemed so minor. They weren’t things I think of as “happy” at first, but rather peaceful things that bring me contentment. So I began researching what others considered happiness. Turns out quite a few people consider the quiet day-to-day joys as true happiness. My discovery wasn’t so ground breaking after all! But to me, the best part was finding out my particular list was generally things I could enjoy any time I wished.

And in case you are curious, I’ll throw my heart out here…

A sampling:
  • The smell of spruce, lavender, or vanilla
  • Planning a new adventure—whether in real life or in a book I want to write
  • Snuggling with the toddler
  • Making lists!
  • Talking to my mom
  • Listening to the music for the mood I’m in
  • Truly listening to my children’s laughter
  • Planting something in good, dark soil
  • Stretching—I love it more than the exercise!
  • Me, a kayak, and a calm water for silently watching wildlife
  • Making things with my own hands
  • An organized closet
  • Eating a slow dinner as a family
  • Acoustic guitar music
  • Looking at a wall full of books
  • Freshly-laundered sheets
  • Writing first drafts
  • Sitting at an outdoor bistro
  • Walking a dog
  • Taking a warm shower/bubble bath
You get the idea….

Notice most of my hallmarks of happiness were not only everyday things but came from homey comforts. I didn’t appreciate that home is such a source of joy before!* Just recognizing this has given me even more happiness in my life and helped me to be grateful for those small moments of beauty I overlook everyday. (Especially at home, because I used to not be a big home-body.)

Q4U: If you wrote a five minute list of 30 things that made you happy, what would be on it?

* SIDE NOTE: After I wrote my list, I began researching happiness and came across the amazing Gretchin Rubin and her blog. And just in time too! Because she has a book coming out next week which records her project to create more Happiness at Home. I can’t wait to read it. Check it out if you are interested!


  1. Oh I love it Jackee - what a great idea! I will be doing this today! You are right, it is so easy to just get stuck in routine and not notice the beauty and happiness in our lives! Thank you so much for this post - I really needed it today!

  2. Lots of cats!!! :-)

    Awwww sometimes it really is the everyday niceties that make one's heart glow with peace and love! Take care

    1. Cats are nice! And love how you said it: "heart glow with peace and love". Thanks for sharing, Jenn. <3

  3. I'm a homebody and lots of the things on your list would be on mine as well. There is nothing better in the whole world than listening to a kid laugh - espcecially those big belly laughs that reach down to the toes!

    I'd add the smell of cinnamon, my job, raspberries and finding out my TV has music channels & I can always find one to match my mood!

    1. Those are some great things, Jemi! Mood music and good smells are very important. :o)

  4. Great list! It's so nice to recognize what brings us true joy. Thanks!

  5. I love your list! Mine would have playing games with my kids, getting up early to write when everyone else is asleep, and hugging my dog.

    1. Thanks, Susan! I love your list. Hugging dogs are the best too. :o) Nothing loves you more. <3

  6. Don't feel guilty about your happiness. Life is so short, we should all fill it with as much happiness as we can. We should share that happiness too with others and I know from reading your blog over the last couple of years that you're the type of person to share. I'm glad you're happy. You deserve to be.


    1. You are so sweet, Jai! Your words will warm me for days. Thank you! And you are right--we should ALL fill our lives with as much happiness as possible. <3

  7. I loved your list!!! On my personal blog I started making a list once a month of "gifts" (based on the book, 1000 Gifts), it's similar to what you did, and it has been such a blessing. I started it when I was struggling with depression. Now, thank goodness, I am in a happy stage - but I'm still making lists of blessings. I think one of my favs on your list was "Truly listening to my children’s laughter"