Thursday, December 31, 2015

Collecting Happiness

I tend to be a rather cynical, pessimistic person. At best, I'm a snarky realist. ;-) This is not my favorite personal trait and something I'd like to improve, but I have never found a way to achieve this and make it stick.

Just today, I finished a book called, My Name is Mahtob (the follow-up memoir to Not Without My Daughter - both excellent reads). The author makes mention of a project she had to do for a phycology class her senior year of college. The assignment was to "collect happiness" by writing down five things each day that brought her happiness. At first difficult for her, she soon began to pay closer attention to the things that brought happiness to her day. And if there weren't any, she would actively seek out things that made her happy just so she could complete her assignment. This activity soon became habit for her and she added an abundance of joy to her life.

I love this idea. 

I've tried a number of times to keep a "blessings journal" or write down things I'm thankful for, but even then, those entries tended to be tainted by the negative. Example: The twins were exhausting today, I'm thankful I get to go to bed soon. Or: I discovered I still like bologna, which is a good thing since we have no money and it's cheaper than deli meat.

Not even kidding. Those are actual entries from 2012 that I wrote in my "blessings" journal. Not surprisingly, this journal has a grand total of nine days worth of entries. My pessimism made short work of my attempt to list my daily blessings.

But the idea of "collecting happiness"? It's such an active challenge - like a scavenger hunt for joy. This competitive, over-achieving firstborn can grasp on to that idea, pessimism be darned. Because it's not just about begrudging acknowledging blessings and things I should be thankful for, but rather actively seeking to notice and find the things of this life that actually bring a smile to my face. A heart of gratitude and optimism will naturally grow from that kind of active observation.

Today's Entries: 

  1. Our boys are so silly and love each other so much. While trying to get them ready this morning, I got caught in the middle of the three of them while they had a tickle fight. They were all laughing so hard and knocking each other (and me!) over, and I couldn't help but laugh with them.
  2. I got to shop alone at Target today and found a beautiful shirt in the clearance rack that was within the budget of my gift card.
  3. I love the way our home looks at Christmas time. Especially at night when the house is dark except for the cozy glow of the Christmas lights. 
  4. This afternoon, I had time to snuggle up with a blanket and a good book (My Name is Mahtob). I cozied up in my favorite $30 garage sale recliner by the natural light of the window and it was wonderful. 
  5. Snuggling, singing songs, and giving back rubs to the boys at nap time today brought my heart joy. 
  6. (Bonus) Devin has been enjoying a half-day off from work and is playing with his new dartboard in the backyard. It made me happy to peek in on him and see him concentrating and enjoying his game so much. Just now, the twins joined him in the yard and are enthusiastically cheering him on. 
What about you? What are five moments of happiness that you can collect today?