I was going through old files on my external hard drive to see if there were files I could get rid of, and while doing so I came across one called “My Happy Book.” The utter cheesiness of the title aside, I was instantly reminded of what this file contained. In the winter break before my last semester at Union, I was browsing around one of my favorite haunts, Barnes & Noble, when I happened upon a book in one of the carousels by the cafe’. I think the title was something like 10,000 Reasons to be Happy or 10,000 Things to Be Happy About, but I can’t seem to find a book of that title, so perhaps I made it up. However, I do remember thinking several things about this book.
1) It was a little sad that people needed to read a book of generic things someone else had come up with, in the hopes that it would make them happy.
2) It would be silly to buy this book, as I could make a much more personal list of my own for free, thereby saving myself $10.99 and ensuring that each item truly was a reason for me to be happy. (For example, I remember one of happy things being “cigars after dinner,” and cigars are disgusting.)
3) Making a list of happy things would be a good way to remember all that is good in my life, all that God has so richly and lavishly bestowed upon my small existence.

After leaving the store that day I started the document, resolving to add at least 5 items to the list every day. Unfortunately, I’m notoriously bad at coming up with good ideas and never seeing them through, so the 5-happy-things-a-day plan lasted perhaps two weeks before life crowded in and caused me to forget to dwell on the happy things. Every now and then, though, I would remember, and I’d go back to my list and add whatever came to mind, often adding a lot more than the self-imposed 5 happy things minimum.

My Happy Book, as I came to call it, hadn’t been opened for a while, as far as I could tell. When I opened it today, the last item was #317: The smell of freshly-cut grass. It’s been almost four years since I first started that list, and I only managed to get to #317. Reading over the list was quite interesting, and I found my happy things ranging from the general (#27: God’s infinitude) to the very specific (#88: a Miles Davis CD on eBay for $.250), to the academic (#37: Making an A on a paper and knowing I earned it; #201: Correctly breaking up a word into morphemes [I’ve completely forgotten how to do that!]), to the food-related (#20: Chocolate brownie frappuccino from Starbucks [which they no longer have!]; #211: Cherry limeades from Sonic), to the book-related (#29: Sitting in front of a blazing fire and reading a good book; #43: Finishing a really good book with the knowledge that I will definitely want to read it again; #68: Beginning a new book; #69: The smell of a new book; #195: Lying in a hammock on a spring day and reading a good book).

The funny thing about a list like this is that it’s easy to tell what stage of life I was in at the time. I could tell when I wasn’t at Union because I looked forward to break being over so I could go back, and I could tell when I had left Union and had begun grad school at UT because there were mentions of a new city and an apartment and small victories in theory class or Old English. Reading these happy things is like opening up a box of photos and thumbing through them one by one, and I’m so glad I have new happy things–more verbal photographs–to add (#318: My husband; #319: My husband bringing home flowers; #321: Being able to use the word “husband”).

Life is good. I am deeply blessed by a God who shows me His grace every day.

What would you put in your happy book?

2 thoughts on “Happiness

  1. Wow, that’s food for thought. I was just thinking I’d finally get to sleep…I’m trying (failing) to get back into a ‘school sleep mode’ since I have to be at work at 7:30 in less than a month.I guess I shouldn’t complain that I’ll be up longer counting my happy things in my head. I’m sure there are people in the world who would fall asleep right away…life has been good to me where I like to admit it or not.P.S. One thing that makes me happy is trying to come up with phrases to fit the word verification thingy I have to fill out to post this bad boy. For example, tonight’s letters are: djggkw and I’ve come up with some funny phrases!


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