A multitude of small delights constitute happiness. ~ Charles Baudelaire

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A multitude of small delights constitute happiness.  ~ Charles Baudelaire


“Happinesses” exercise, part 2 (Read part 1 here)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a simple exercise I got from Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write:  List 50 things that make you happy or bring you pleasure.  I suggested reviewing your list to help you identify values and clarify priorities.  After living with my list for a while, I now have a second recommendation: Do at least 2 – 3 things from your “happinesses” list every day, and take note of how you feel while doing listed activities, after doing them, and at the end of the day.  Do you notice a significant positive difference—More joy in your days, less stress or anxiety?

Until it becomes habitual, I suggest you add happiness appointments to your calendar (you can then use the “notes” section to track how you feel).  They don’t have to be long appointments.  Eating a piece of good, dark chocolate is one thing that brings me pleasure.  It only takes a minute or two for me to get up, enjoy the chocolate, and go back to work.  And I take that full minute or two.  I don’t wolf down the chocolate while reading email, talking with a client, or anything else.  I just enjoy the chocolate.   Similarly, a former colleague of mine takes a minute or two in between meetings to bask in the sun;  he simply steps outside, faces the sun, closes his eyes, and soaks it in.  Short, easy, and sweet.

I also combine joyful actions with on-going tasks.  I have a strong preference for public transportation over driving, especially when it comes to commuting.  But when driving in heavy traffic is necessary, incorporating small happinesses into the drive makes it noticeably better: I dance in the car, sing along to songs at full volume, and practice being fully present even at stoplights.  Taking in the blue skies,  clouds, trees, rock formations, grasses, birds and bird-song—even just for the duration of a red light—bring me joy while reducing my negativity and stress.  On buses and trains, people-watching and observing the passing scenery also brings me happiness.  (The rumors about the joys of being present are true.)  I don’t necessarily look around for the entire trip—some views are not inspiring and I also like to read, rest, and respond to messages while riding—but again, even 2-5 minutes make a difference.  And when I’m too tired to do anything else, watching makes me happier than just zoning out.

Still not sure you have time?  When you would normally play video games, scroll through social media, watch TV, flip through magazines, etc., instead do something else from your happiness list.

I hope you’ll vary what you do and on the days that you can, undertake the activities that take more time or spend more time doing them.  You may only be able to watch the sun set or rise for five minutes on Monday, but then go on a long hike on Saturday and begin it by watching the sun rise for 30 minutes or end it by watching the full sunset.

After trying this for a couple weeks, let me know how incorporating happinesses into daily life affects you.



David Whyte’s poem “Everything is Waiting for You.”  A poem that encourages us to engage with everything present in our world, which I found does make life more enjoyable.


Photo courtesy of TookAPic via Pexels

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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