Thursday, July 15, 2010

14,000 Things to Be Happy About

Many that know me see me as an optimistic and upbeat person. The truth is, I work REALLY hard to be that way.

By nature, I'm a cynical, critical pessimist (the Capricorn in me, perhaps?). The glass is not only half-empty, but is too fragile, not big enough, and is entirely too classy for this occasion :)

When I was overcoming my eating disorder (and the accompanying depression) years ago, my psychologist suggested that I focus on the positive aspects of the everyday. She instructed me to find delight in the everyday things (such as foods I ate and enjoyed, things that made me smile, jokes I was told, things I did that made me proud) and to keep a running tally. She said that I would get so used to only seeing the things that made me happy that I would eventually "tune out" the negative aspects of the day.

That's when I was serendipitously introduced to Barbara Ann Kipfer's book, 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. I saw it in a second-hand store. It was pretty ripped up, but I snatched it up anyway.

The book is part of Kipfer's life-long quest to list out all the things that she encountered in daily life that made her happy. I fell in love with that idea! I may not be an optimist by nature, but I'm certainly a list-maker!

So, I began to chronicle the daily things in my life that were remarkable. This exercise not only helped me re-learn to appreciate food, but it also helped me to appreciate the little joyful things of my day that I often took for granted. In Kipfer's book, I highlighted all the things that I like or found inspiring.

My copy of the book is now ripped in half and highlighted to hell. But, I still give Kipfer's book as a Christmas present every year to a friend that's had a hard time or someone that enjoys list-making (like me!). It's a subtle reminder that life is full of possibility, love, fun, and enjoyment if we can start seeing the half-full glass as good enough.

I tried to chronicle, in pictures, some the the little things from the last 24 hours of my life that made me happy. Here's what I captured:

While practicing PiYo last night, I got some unexpected kisses

Nothing beats a yogurt parfait. This one is Strawberry yogurt layered with Cascadian Farms organic Vanilla Almond Oat Crunch Cereal and raspberries. With a side of light vanilla soy milk.

In the words of Donkey (from the movie, Shrek): "Everybody likes parfaits!"

A whole, brand new scent and bottle of body wash that smells like summer fruit!

The "organized chaos" that is my desk.

A lunch sandwich made with tomato, basil, mozzerella, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, salt and pepper on a ciabatta roll.

And of course DIET COKE!

Dinner Salad: Spinach base, shredded Jarlesburg cheese, Morningstar "Bacon," corn, garlic croutons, onion, and a drizzle of Ken's Light Honey Mustard Dressing. Divine.

A glass of wine to unwind.

My wall decal (in the background) makes me smile everyday. The feather headband I made does too.

Sipping wine on the porch with my two Fraggles.

Bay-Bay doesn't actually like to sit on the porch she'd rather observe from the safety of the apartment. She's a chicken, but I love her.

My handsome guard dog, Beaufort.

A dessert of low-fat frozen vanilla yogurt, topped with raspberries, a drizzle of light chocolate syrup and dab of whipped cream. This bowl was for sharing, but Bubby didn't get much of it :)

My daily to-do list made the night before. I woke to find an addendum.

Bubby wrote a list to help me remember to conserve energy. I'm really bad about leaving lights on and stuff. His smart a** humor can get annoying but it usually makes my day :)

Ah, nothing like coffee at 5:00am this morning.

After teaching TurboKick at 5:30am this morning (something else to add to my list), I made a spinach, onion, and feta egg-white omelet. With a side of what else??? RASPBERRIES! (I'm a raspberry fanatic I tell ya. And when they're in season, I go a bit overboard!).

That's not all I've got, but that's all the pictures I took :) I challenge you, reader, to do an experiment. Keep a list everyday for a week of all of the little things that made you happy. Let me know the results!

Of course, we know that fitness is not just physical, but also mental. Happiness is a state of mind. Learning to cultivate it just takes a little (or in my case a LOT) of practice.

Q.O.D: List some of the things that made you happy today!


  1. I love love love this post. Since I've been having a few down days too, I have been trying to focus on the positives. It's so easy to get swallowed up in the negatives if you allow yourself that. I actually decided yesterday that each evening before bed, I am going to write down the things that made me happy during the day. this morning spending one-on-one time with one of my dogs made me smile. She dashes down stairs ready to eat, the other refuses to leave the kennel b/c he knows that he'll have to be resigned to the kitchen after breakfast when I leave. He's not dumb ;-)

  2. OMG - somehow I missed FOUR Days of yoru FAB blog. I am so sorry - I have no idea what happened. I check on you religously:) Anyway - much to say - so little comment time:) - first I LOVE your pics and this post. After you read my post today - you will know this is JUST what I need. I might steal smart and of course give you credit. And thank YOU for saying Diet Coke - are we the only 'healthy bloggers' that will admit to the habit in a can? And the dog kisses - so cute. And parfait and dessert - so thankful. AND I LOVE YOUR HEADBAND? Anthropologie??
    I am thankful for so many things - despite my grump-ass attitude today: a few of them....kielan, sean, dogs, my babies in ballet, the sunshine, my ability to run and move, my butt, my eyes, my mommy...and my stepdad - aka - dad...and the fact that i can give my daughter mroe then I had - and I had alot:) xoxoxo

  3. Thanks for the post....made me smile.

  4. I am happy for Labyrinth (David Bowie in tight pants); afternoon sunshine sitting by the pool; glam time with my sister (going to concerts, shopping); my cat doing strange things (like jumping in the bathtub when he hates water); great video games (FO3); kisses and hugs; Round Rock Doughnuts and Mexican Bakeries; my beau-hunk (even if he lives far away from me); my job (even if I want to be far away from it); fresh smoothies in the morning; back rubs; and my goofy ass parents.

    to list a few...

  5. Love the positivity going here, peeps!

    @Erica--I made the headband, but I DO LOVE Anthropology!

    @Heather--so you're a dog person too I take it? :)