this is as easy as it sounds: keep a list of things that make you happy.
some people include “flipping the pillow over to the cool side,” “early morning tea,” or “chocolate chip cookies.”
those are decent, but here are some drawbacks to going the way of normcore suggestions like “freshly cut grass,” “my favorite t-shirt,” and “driving country roads on a summer night”:
- distracting—ok, channeling the smell of freshly cut grass. but the dentist is prying my mouth open. now the sound of the drill is making it hard to focus. wait, when did i last smell grass anyway? i need to get out of the city more. hope i don’t have a cavity.
- adding story or including your current situation—ah yes, my favorite t-shirt, which is currently soaking in color-safe bleach because i spilled sriracha on it.
- setting an abstract scene can raise more questions than it solves—hmm,driving a country road on a summer night. wait, am i alone? where to? where from? is the radio on?
so i developed a twist. before i share, a confession. i subscribe to the “if it was funny the first time, the 428th time will be even better” school of thought. i rebroadcast jokes long after everyone else has stopped laughing and continued their lives. too many of my sentences begin with, “hey guys, remember when…”
and lots of those memories are deeply soaked in Schadenfreude, or taking pleasure from others’ misfortunes. it’s my karmic cross to bear.
as a result, a lot of my happy list items turned out to be situations that were funny almost exclusively to me. prime example: the time Tom and Rosa’s cat pooped on their bed during the Oscar party.
Tom and i were talking when their insane cat darted by. “Excuse me, I know that run!” Tom yelled as he followed the cat into the bedroom, a moment too late.
i could barely choke out "thank you, good night", as tears of laughter poured down my face; i roared again the following day as i apologized for finding the situation hilarious; and i burst out just now while typing it. so, hilarity may work better than “fresh maple syrup.”
another great genre is cuteness. the heart-swelling nature of sweet memories is transformative. a favorite is how i’d call my dog a “dino pup” because he resembled a baby dinosaur hatching from an egg when he emerged from beneath his blanket each morning. you had to be there.
for me, the adorable and humorous are moving sidewalks in the airport of life, shuttling me faster to my destination. you may choose differently. regardless, completing this exercise is more important than completing it my way.
what's on your list? tell me in the comments!