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?