Big List of Things to be Happy About

I'm writing this post from the Caribbean island of Grenada, where I'm house-sitting for three months. Sounds pretty good, huh? (See also: Housesit on Your Next Vacation)

Well, I've just been dealt a heavy blow. My “partner” — who was supposed to join me here shortly — announced that he's been sleeping with another woman, and....drum roll, please....she's pregnant.

So my plans of spending the next three months in romantic coupled bliss on a tropical island are out the window. And to make matters worse, I'm really sick — an illness so incapacitating that I can only sit up for bouts of 10 minutes before having to lie down again. Being sick like this is a very scary way to be when you're alone — and a stark reminder of that aloneness.

And, ironically, I've agreed to write a post on things to be happy about.

It's time to reframe my experience. It would be stating the obvious to point out that I'm nursing my wounds (physical and emotional) on a Caribbean island, where I have almost no overhead expenses. This is something to be happy about. There are some engaging and friendly locals who live and work on the property, lending me a sense of companionship and security. And heck — I've found a way to travel the world full-time in a financially sustainable way; something I've been doing for the last five years.

To say “things could be worse” is an understatement.

Don't Wallow — Reframe Your Thinking

When times are tough, it's difficult to see the forest for the trees. Everything becomes dire and full of despair.

To a point, I think it's healthy to explore these darker moments, because they lead to incredible growth experiences. But to linger in the depression — to wallow in self-loathing and doubt — is a dangerous road to go down. And you usually end up pushing away the people who are trying to help you in the process.

Instead, wallow — but only for a while. Then, reframe. After a period of self-care and nurturing kindness, it's time to pull yourself off of what can be a slippery slope towards bad habits and depression. Consider how you can change your life if you're feeling stuck. Cut out some pictures and dream big with a vision board. And surround yourself with people who love you and can support you. Don't push them away, as is often the knee-jerk response. It's in getting each other through dark moments in life that friendships deepen.

Here's a random list of things to be happy about. Don't allow a potential lack of some of these items in your life to get you down; instead do what I did in coming up with this list — look at the world around you through a baby's eyes. You'll be amazed at what you observe, and how simple the root of happiness can be.

Things to Be Happy About

  1. The sound of an ice cream truck.
  2. Sun showers.
  3. Birds chirping.
  4. Gentle ocean waves.
  5. That whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
  6. The smell of freshly baked bread.
  7. Colorful flowers.
  8. Being inside when it's raining. Especially in bed, where you can snuggle up and enjoy the fact that you're dry.
  9. Being outside in a hot and refreshing rain, when you don't care about getting wet.
  10. The sound of children laughing.
  11. Fresh, delicious food.
  12. Electricity.
  13. Clean water.
  14. The sound of trees rustling in the wind.
  15. The feeling you get when somebody smiles at you.
  16. A mother's hug.
  17. Cookies, still warm out of the oven.
  18. A parent saying “I'm proud of you.”
  19. Landing a new job.
  20. Waking up to a fresh snow — and knowing it's Saturday so you don't have to shovel!
  21. Laughing so hard you cry.
  22. The feeling of comfort when a pet snuggles up to you after a long hard day.
  23. Epic sunsets.
  24. The excitement of going somewhere new.
  25. A great cup of coffee or tea (especially on a cold morning).
  26. Getting absorbed in a really good book.
  27. Cooking a meal that is so good it surprises even you.
  28. Hosting a party that goes off like a charm.
  29. Warm clothing in cold weather.
  30. Cool clothing in warm weather.
  31. Freedom of rights.
  32. A mug of frothy hot chocolate after coming in from the cold.
  33. Music that makes you want to dance.
  34. The thrill of new love.
  35. Sleeping in.

To round out the list, here are a few things the Twitter and Facebook users I asked like to be happy about:

  1. How about being alive! The sun, the wind, the moon. Coffee, gelato, pineapple. Kissing, hugging, crying.
  2. Being healthy enough to travel.
  3. Smoke-free bars, clubs, and restaurants.
  4. Mismatched wool socks and sandals!
  5. Good friends and fond memories.
  6. Double rainbows and changing fall colors.
  7. Bubble wrap and being able to be you.
  8. The word "bellybutton." I just always makes me laugh saying it.
  9. Being in the present moment.
  10. Spandex, kittens, rude people falling down, salmon with dill, celebrity nipple slips, Wolf Blitzer lawn gnomes, Darth Vader Pez dispensers, the Dali Llama, puppy kisses, and the fact that they are filming season two of Game of Thrones.
  11. Puppies first opening their eyes and looking in wonder at their world.
  12. Friends coming to visit.
  13. That you are young and your knees and hips still work!
  14. You're still alive, nothing is broken, and you aren't in anything is possible.

There. I don't know about you, but I actually feel a bit better. It's nice to reframe a tragedy (or tragic frame of mind) into something you just might eventually be able to be happy about.

This is a working list. Got anything to add?

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A Big List Of Things To Be Happy About

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Guest's picture

I hope your physical health improves quickly.
As for the blow you've been dealt - yipes. Another thing to be thankful for/happy about is that you are able to have this POV and still see the good of the situation. You are a strong person.

Guest's picture

Hi Nora...sorry to hear about what you're going through. That's so great that you can take stock like this, very healthy. You've inspired me to do the same.

Guest's picture

If you're looking for even more happy things, there's a blog that lists a happy thing every day (I think), called 1,000 Awesome Things. There's also a book called "The Book of Awesome" and a sequel called "The Book of Even More Awesome." Just a thought. =]

Guest's picture

Nice list of things that can make us happy. Will definitely try some of it.

Guest's picture

Love the list! I would have a very hard time pulling choosing my top 10 out of there. We do have so many things to be happy about and grateful for. Every night before I go to sleep I try to remind myself of all the things I was happy/grateful for that day.

Guest's picture

I hope you recover from sickness very quickly and I am sorry to hear bad news about your situation. I'm sure you'll find someone better soon. I love the list you came up with. I get happy just reading them. Thanks for sharing in your tough times.

Guest's picture

Jeez Nora, your life sounds like a soap opera. At least you were able to make some lemonade out of lemons in regards to your post. Stay positive because this too shall pass.

Guest's picture

Popping the cork of a good bottle of wine.

Guest's picture

LOL, great post and just in time for the fall and winter blues.

Guest's picture

Becoming a mommy. :)

Guest's picture

The sound of an ice cream truck? Haha! That sound makes me want to move out to a nicely silent cabin in the middle of the woods! Rest of the list is nice, though. :-)

Guest's picture

Thank you for this article. It was inspiring and a necessary pick me up for what's been a bad day. It's been a year since you wrote this, but you should know your writing is helping many others out there.

Guest's picture

Looking at the world upside down through a raindrop.

Guest's picture

this list is very helpful to me as of this moment. can you send me the link to a site that could help me get past loneliness and a lack of confidence?