small things that make me happier.

i am a long time, very devoted  fan of gretchen rubin's. i read "happiness project" years ago, and have since devoured every one of her books. i so ardently admire her self discipline and i love how she uses very simple, practical, applicable examples of things we can do right now, TODAY even, in our quest to live happier lives.

i tried out her podcast months ago & found it dull - i was accustom to true crime podcasts and i felt like it wasn't drawing me in like i wanted. but i gave it another go in january and i have been devouring these podcasts like they are going out of STYLE. they are full of advice that i need and i have been consistently inspired to do little things each day to make my life, as a whole, happier.

one thing that particularly strikes me over and over is how unique gretchen is, for this reason. she is an intellectual - she went to yale law school, she hangs out with pulitzer prize winners. she is incredibly highbrow, and yet here she is on her podcast, spending five minutes talking about the pocket placement on a uniqlo vest and how the ability to have practical placement for both your keys and your phone brings her a lot of joy. doesn't that seem silly that someone like her is focusing on such a trivial thing? why do intellectuals so often feel like they are above small joys? gretchen breaking the mold is such a testament to me that happiness IS in the details and nobody is above noticing and enjoying them!

i spend a lot of time with people who are educated and have worked their way up in tv and they are intellectually sensational. (and it's important to me that i count myself among them.) but a lot of them are cynical & hard. for some reason i feel like this is often a parallel - educated and pessimist, misanthropic. and perhaps they like being that way? but i certainly don't!! and i really think this is the difference - being an optimist & finding joy in the small things. this is a value that i want to keep at the forefront of my life. (i have a strong conviction that optimism is a crucial virtue and i think that the ability to recognize the awful in the world, combat it, and still accentuate on the joyous is the most important skill one can attain as a human. but that's another blogpost sitting in my drafts.)

the thing that is so great about all suggestions in this podcast - it is all so manageable!! if i am having a bad day, or even a bad month i can still focus on small things and finding happiness there. i don't have to change my entire outlook or do a total attitude 180 or turn my life around. i can do little things, day by day, to build more productive habits and happier moments. and eventually, those habits and moments will improve my life in big ways.

so here we go! my list of small things that i do to make myself happier/things i find joy in:

>>> gretchen talks about doing things that your future self will thank you for, so each night before bed i think "what is something i can do tonight that i will be glad i did tomorrow?" usually it's doing a few dishes in the sink (that way they never pile up!) or putting away the laundry or setting out my clothes for the next day so my morning is smooth. it's such a tiny thing, but when done with intention, i wake up the next morning and immediately recognize my efforts and feel great about them!

>>> treat yo self - she suggests that occasionally give yourself a treat - buy a book for yourself, get a massage, indulge in a tv show, have a glass of wine, take a nap. (i was immediately was like "DESSERT FOR ME" but if i randomly give myself dessert i end up feeling worse about myself, so i try and steer away from food items in this case) you don't have to earn this treat, you just get it because you deserve it. because you are worth it. i am the queen of treating myself TRUST ME, but when i am intentional about it (instead of it just being the result of bad self control) i enjoy it that much more. i treat myself by giving myself a pass on chores, allow myself a 90's movie before bed, and very often new books. i may do this anyway when i have some down time before bed or have a book recommendation waiting in my amazon cart, but when i mentally categorize it as a "treat" i enjoy it more, and i relish it as a treat that i have given myself. (it's my birthday gift to me! i'm so happy. name that movie.)

>>> the one minute rule - if there is a task that will take one minute or less, do it NOW. like hanging up my towel, bringing the laundry upstairs, replying to an email, stopping and getting gas. (that takes a few minutes but still, i put it off constantly.) not only does it give you a quick burst of that "i just accomplished something" feeling, but when you are on top of the little things, the big things seem so much more manageable. deep cleaning the house is a lot quicker, i cut down on anxiety about taking care of everything (does anyone wake up in a cold sweat sometimes thinking "did i pay the internet this month? or am i just crazy..?) and generally i feel like i have more time to myself.

>>> start the day with affection. again, this is something i feel like we usually do - but now that it is intentional, i relish a kiss and a long hug a little extra each morning and each night. jordan and i are fairly affectionate & i can use those moments to feel connected to him, instead of going through the motions. make sense? monday mornings i leave the house at 5:15am while jordan is still sleeping. this past monday i kissed him on the cheek a few times before i left and the tenderness of that moment (even though he did not remember it lol) stayed with me for the rest of the day. there is something especially sweet about starting and ending the day with a little love.

>>> noticing the little things. i am trying to recognize those small, seemingly insignificant things that bring me joy, open them wide, and let them excitement rush in and permeate my whole bring. like a sunny day or a fabulous song or a good hair day or a small compliment or hitting several green lights in a row. why not squeeze more happiness out of those moments? i am resolving to make note of them, write them down when i can, and compile them here.

>>> and lastly, i just have to recommend that everyone go buy this journal. this is my own personal happiness hack. you make one list a week for a year per their prompts - things like "list the happiest moments of your life so far" and "list all the things that you like to do for fun" and "list all the fictional characters you identify with." they encourage happy thoughts, help me be positively introspective, and then there are goal ideas connected to that week's list. it's been fun to think about who i am, the good in my life so far, and then discuss it with jordan after i make the list. it's brought me a lot of satisfaction and the journal itself is only ten bucks. (and i know it's february, but it won't take long to catch up!)

and if anyone has happiness hacks or ideas about finding joy in the simple - please send them my way!


  1. i too am a gretchen ruben enthusiast and LOVE her podcast. my favorite advice is to do things for my future self - it makes such a huge difference!
    i'm curious -- are you an upholder, a questioner, an obliger, or a rebel?

  2. I'm so glad I stumbled across this post today. I've been needing a little inspiration and it sounds like these podcasts might be just the thing for me. I love your sentence "i have a strong conviction that optimism is a crucial virtue and i think that the ability to recognize the awful in the world, combat it, and still accentuate on the joyous is the most important skill one can attain as a human." Perfectly said!
    I think that sometimes well educated people get caught up in the mindset that, "People are only happy because they are to stupid to know otherwise." Often educated people will use the phase "ignorance is bliss" and they can no longer claim that luxury. But I think it's a forgotten truth that happiness is a choice.


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