How to be happy

Look closely at the sky.  Every day.  Take pictures.

Walk outside no matter what the weather.

Listen to a song on repeat (lately, for me, it’s One Day by Matisyahu but others have been Fix You by Coldplay, Kite by U2, Just Breathe by Pearl Jam, Universal Child by Annie Lennox, and The Story by Brandi Carlile).

Lie in your bed (preferably with all-white sheets) and read, or nap, or just look at the ceiling.

Paint your fingernails a bright color.

Have a friend who can write lists like this for you with your child (their godchild).

Read poetry.  Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard are all good choices.

Write a birthday card to someone you love.  Or any kind of note.  But the real, paper kind.

Sit on the floor and play Guess Who or Blokus with your kids.  Without any distraction.  Just let their joy seep into you.

Cry if you want to.  Maybe hard.  Maybe often.

Use the silver.  Or the china.  Or wear the dress, put on the shoes.  Stop waiting for the right occasion for these things.

Go through your bookshelf, or your closet, and fill a bag for Goodwill.  Take it there.

Sit in the back of a church, or in any place that is sacred for you, and just listen to the silence, to your breathing, to what is and what is not.

Buy fresh flowers for your kitchen.  Peonies and ranunculus are my favorite.

Go out of your way to tell someone something you think is great about them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a close friend or an acquaintance.  Just tell them, sincerely and authentically, something that you like and admire about them.

Please tell me … what makes you happy, no matter what?

Inspired by Jen Lemen‘s beautiful How to Be Happy Come Hell or Highwater (and, really, by everything she writes)

16 thoughts on “How to be happy”

  1. I think I need to promptly open my journal today and scratch out a few “What Makes Sarah Happy” notes. Sometimes I don’t even know what it will take to bring me out of a funk, or provide for me that simple joy. I think I ought to know, so maybe I can go there more often.

  2. I have listened to each of those songs on repeat many times, and love peonies and ranaculus and taking pictures of whatever I see on my walks. I love this post!
    And, right now my song on repeat is a Girish kirtan song/chant. It is called Diamonds in the Sun from Girish’s CD called Diamonds in the Sun. Bet you would love it.
    Thanks for the post!

  3. Lovely post. Lindsey–you’ll be the friend I tell today; you are a brilliant writer and I’m so lucky to have your work as a “teacher” in my life. xoxo

  4. I adore fresh flowers, bright nail polish (usually on my toes), favorite songs on repeat, and getting outside. Planning on a picnic today. Thanks for this list, Lindsey. xo

  5. Yes! I was just writing, the other day, about what makes me happy. Taking photographs, reading poetry, listening to music, dancing, taking a walk and mostly reading emails from my son (or talking to him on the phone) rank high high high on my list. Not to mention every simple meal I have with my husband.

  6. Honestly, cooking and eating are a big category of things that make me happy no matter what. Like eating a bowl of pasta with butter and salt. Pure comfort — makes me happy always. And making a good meal for people I love — also, pretty much guaranteed happy.

  7. I concur about the fresh cut flowers.

    Other things:
    Having a great conversation with my son(s).
    Cooking and baking and seeing the pure enjoyment on my family’s faces.
    Being organized and on top of things.
    A soak in the hottub with a bottle of champagne, my husband and some good conversation.

  8. Reading this list makes me happy. It’s perfection.

    Also making my list:
    Mint chocolate chip ice cream in the evening of a hot day, windows open, crickets singing.

  9. Love your writing. Found you through Katrina Kenison-another treasure.
    My Top 10, written for a dear friend that we lost to breast cancer at 42.

    Trisha’s Top 10 Rules for Living

    #1 Family 1st.
    #2 Keep your heart open to friends and smile.
    #3 Have high expectations for yourself and others
    #4 Look for the positive in every situation.
    #5 Buck Up!
    #6 Exercise.
    #7 Eat together!
    #8 Write Thank You notes and be polite.
    #9 Keep fresh flowers in your kitchen &
    Celebrate the seasons
    #10 Live Out Loud.

    Written with the admiration & respect for Trisha Reid
    by Kathi Russ April 2004

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