I heard of this for the first time this very year, never having even thought of it! And while I work with a lot of spiritual tools (those being psychological truth as well), that wasn’t one that had ever crossed my radar screen.
While talking one day with the incomparable Evelyn Byrne of White Bird Publications, I mentioned this or that on my spiritual list for the day. We, she and I, practice many similar rituals along our paths that coincide with whatever we’re focused on at the time. But of course some of those become mainstays.
“Do you have a happiness list?” she asked. “If not, get one.”
Intrigued (as I always am with her!), I asked for clarification.
“It’s a list of things that elate you. Twenty of them. Write them down, keep it by your bedside table, and read it before you even get out of bed in the morning.”
What a wonderful idea! Because one thing I know for true, is how I focus my mind from the get-go each day provides the framework for my attitude going forward. At least through the morning hours!
And then the oddest thing happened. At first, I had trouble coming up with twenty!
Of course when you start something like this, all the obvious items appear first. You know, happy to be healthy. Happy my dogs are healthy. Happy to be writing. Etc. This works kinda like a Gratitude list (of which I’m a huge proponent—there are times when I’ve been down when only that Gratitude/Appreciation list gets me out of it), but this one is a bit different. Rather than just appreciating what’s in life, instead this makes you smile at all the things that bring you joy. And memories surface as to why.
As the days went by, more items were added to the list. And then more. And then more. Now it’s difficult to limit the number to twenty!
Because a lot of things make me happy. The very act of writing this right now has me smiling. How writing cheers my very soul!
I mentioned this to a friend who said, “I don’t believe you can make happiness.”
You know, I’d never even thought of that in those terms. Isn’t it marvelous when someone challenges us to go deeper into our beliefs? Always tweaks me.
Because I don’t believe her sentiments to be correct. We can and do make happiness, every day. We make it with our mindsets. We make it with affirmations and denials (and I believe you have to have both—first the denial of the negative thought, and then replacing it with something positive. And unless you live in a third-world country with no clean drinking water, there’s always something positive to focus on. My god but we live in the land of plenty).
My happiness list has grown and evolved. Because of course life is fluid, and new and wonderful things appear in our worlds every day. By keeping a list, your mind becomes more open to those, more things that bring you joy and bliss and wow, all the wonder to come!
And it keeps me focused on the now, on today, bringing that Sanskrit poem to life: “Each today, well-lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and each tomorrow a vision of hope. Look, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life.“
So, thank you, Evelyn! That made my day, my week, my month. Possibly my year!
What’s on your happiness list?