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Calm in the Chaos

Simple Things that Make Us Happy

Simple Things that Make Us Happy

by Jamie Spannhake

October 18, 2020

Calm in the Chaos

Simple Things that Make Us Happy

by Jamie Spannhake

October 18, 2020

Simple Things that Make Us Happy

As I was standing in my kitchen, drinking coffee from my new favorite mug, and looking at the painted stone that Sarah gave me that reads "I love you so much," I realized these simple things make me happy. 

With our inborn negativity bias, it can be hard to focus on these little bits of happiness surrounding us. 

Related content: Working with Our Negativity Bias.

When we adopt an attitude of gratitude, it is easier to focus on the goodness around us. It is easier to shift our perspective to consider the positive aspects of people, events, and things.

Related content: 5 Ways to Shift Our Perspective

As I was looking around my kitchen, it also occurred to me that it is not the items themselves that bring me joy (except for the coffee in the mug!); it is the feelings and thoughts those items engender in me that make me happy. 

Here's some of the simple things that make me happy:

Long Beach Island ceramic coffee mugMy new favorite mug. I love the look and feel of this mug. It is hand-crafted clay glazed in earth tones with visual texture. It feels good in my hands, and it holds my elixir of life: COFFEE. But what it means to me is what truly makes me happy. I bought this in a coffee shop on Long Beach Island. It brings back the memory of the smell of coffee and baked goods. It was a trip taken with Sarah and our friend and her daughter, who is one of Sarah's best friends. It brings back a fun girls' weekend on the beach, finding shells and riding bikes. I can smell the sea air and feel the sun on my face when I hold this mug.

Painted stone "I love you so much"My painted stone: "I love you so much." Sarah chose this as a Christmas gift for me. It feels smooth to the touch. But what it means to me is that my sweet daughter loves me so much. And she took the time to choose a gift that she knew I would like and that said what she felt.

Sarah climbing a tree in fall colorsSarah in fall colors. Sarah is one of the big things that make my happy. While she was climbing a tree, I noticed that the fall leaves and her shirt were the same color. It makes me happy to know that she is growing up with an enjoyable childhood, in a place where she can climb trees, where we have fresh air and beautiful colors, and where she has the freedom to wear pants and cut her hair short. I am grateful we have health insurance to pay for eye exams and eye glasses, that we have food to keep her strong and healthy, and money to buy shoes. Watching her climb a tree makes me feel so fortunate.

Homemade hanging dying sage bundlesHomemade drying sage bundles. I love the smell of burning dried sage, but also the cleansing nature of burning the herb, called "smudging." It makes me happy to have these homemade bundles because it means I found a good use for the extra herbs in my garden, that I had a garden, and that my space can be cleansed. It makes me happy to have a way to change my environment when I don't feel positive. Something I can DO to feel differently.

Hermione Granger outfit on American Girl dollHermione Granger American Girl Doll outfit. This makes me happy, not because I love Harry Potter and the role model of Hermione Granger (though I do), but because how Sarah got it. Her cousin got two Hermione Granger outfits for her American Girl doll at Christmas. Rather than exchanging it for another gift, which she could have done, she gave the extra to Sarah because she knew Sarah really wanted it. It reminds me that we have a loving and kind family. It reminds me that my wasband* and I have successfully consciously uncoupled and have a "good" divorce. 

* In case you aren't familiar with the term "wasband," it is someone who "was" your "husband." A better word than ex-husband.

Orange shellRed fire bushAn orange shell and a red fire bush. Both of these make me happy because they are beautiful. The shell was chosen by Sarah for me on our trip to Long Beach Island, so it brings back those same feelings and thoughts as my coffee mug, but also makes me feel important and loved because Sarah saw it and chose it for me because she thought I would like it. The fire bush is in my wasband's back yard, which used to be my back yard too, and it reminds me of the happy times we had there (before we were no longer happy).

What strikes me about all these things is that I have control over whether they are in my environment or whether I choose to notice them. In a world where we have so little control, knowing that we can choose what we have near us or choose what we notice, gives me comfort and joy.

What little things make you happy?


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