Tracking the good stuff
One good thing leads to another
Last year on a walk around the neighborhood, we stopped at the Little Free Library box that's tucked in a break in the split-rail fence, two blocks down.
Inside the box I saw the bright yellow spine of Shawn Achor's book, On Happiness. I was familiar with Achor's (funny) TED Talk and took it home.
A new practice
Achor's book is filled with stories and studies on how to boost your happiness. One way is to create a daily list of three good things. It's much the same as a gratitude, list, but I like the idea of three good things.
As you sit with pen in hand, you might at first wonder what good your ordinary day held.
Stick with it
Take a step-by-step run through your day ... you'll find there were good things.
1) that warm shower after a chill
2) seeing the sun after the rain, or
3) a smile from that stranger on the street
It's surprising how comforting and reassuring it can be to recall even the smallest moments.
Taking it to another level
Yesterday, I decided to try something different ... same exercise, but in a new format. Every day for the next 100 days I will continue to list three good things about my day ... and illustrate one.
The idea is inspired by Michael Beirut's 100 Day Project. My goal is to experiment with writing (maybe a poem or short essay), collage, painting, drawing, and photography.
In keeping with Beirut's outline, I will keep the project simple and work on it for only 15-30 minutes a day, for 100 days.
Will you join me?
You don't have to illustrate your list and no special skills are needed.
Just write down three good things at the end of each day. You can list them in a notebook, on sticky notes, a chalkboard, or document them on your phone.
Whatever is most convenient, and makes it more likely you'll stick with it.
I started with a blank notebook and keep it on a side table where I'm sure to see it every day.
If, like me, you want to take it to another level, pair an illustration or photograph with one entry from the day's list.
If you like hand lettering, hand letter your list.
Experiment with abstract images, shapes, and colors that represent how the good feels, or looks, to you.
Either way, it's a good exercise to remind ourselves that if we look, really look, there is something good to be logged and appreciated every day.
I hope you'll join me.
p.s. I've created a blank template to keep my 100 day entries consistent ... if you like, download and use the template for your list.
Alarm bells sounded high and low, all around the pond. From a distance we heard the persistent screech of the blue jay, then the urgent squawk of a duck, and as we neared the pond, the bong-bong call of the frogs.
What, we wondered, was going on?
Stopping at the edge of the pond, we scanned the water, the trees, and the sky, listening and looking.
And then we saw it. A big owl, a Barred Owl (yes, we had to look that up when we got home), perched in a tree on the edge of the pond.
I'm not sure if the frogs were sounding an alarm, mating, or doing what frogs do, but the duck and the blue jay were visibly agitated. The ducked paddled frantically from one area to the next squawking all the way. The blue jay, in full screech with fanned tail, was swooping down at the owl ... from the left, then right, again and again and again.
But that owl.
Talk about composure. It flicked an ear and spun its head at the bluejay's aggressive fly-by graze, but otherwise it remained still. Focused.
Fascinating stuff ... and the final entry for the day in yesterday's good things journal:
3. the owl in the woods
I started the good things journal last month. A list of three good things I see, experience, do, or feel during the day. Every day.
It's a matter of semantics, really. Like me, you've probably seen the prompts to keep a gratitude journal (and maybe you already do), but somehow that never materialized for me.
Until I read about a "good things list."
It's simple. I keep a small notebook and pencil within ready, on a table in the living room. The idea is to make a list of three different good things you experience every day. Short entries, a few words each.
Here are some of the entries I've made (with the original numbering):
3. clean sheets
4. trip to the library
5. takeout pizza from Otto
2. raking the yard
1. the sun is shining
2. almond flour chocolate chip cookies
4. Wordle in two
1. a good night's sleep
2. got the laundry done
3. the own in the woods
Like the owl, despite the unexpected swoop of outside influences, I've remained focused.
One entry at a time ... on the good.
And yes, it feels good.
Sometimes I write one thing at a time as it comes to me during the day, other times I write my list at the end of the day. And more often than not, once I get started, I'll remember something and add that to the list, coming up with not just three, but four or five, sometimes six or seven good things about my day. Not monumental, over-the-top exciting things, but small pleasures that, in remembering and recognizing them, make it a better day ... today and tomorrow.
Exploring the art and writing of short story memoir