What's on Your Happiness List?
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What's on Your Happiness List?

While challenges and hardships of the pandemic cannot be ignored, we should celebrate the small things

By Robyn Haarsma, Representative

I’ve always been jealous of those people who have seemingly known from day one what their purpose in life is. 

You know those people—the ones who have this all-consuming passion and skill for something specific, like music, teaching, or sports. They confidently spend their lives perfecting and sharing their passion with the world.

I have always struggled with the concept of finding my true skills and purpose in life—that thing that I was born to do. I’ve tried lots of different methods to try to unlock the answer to this question. 

A couple of years ago, I decided to create a list of the things that I found joy in. To do this, I created a happiness list on my phone. 

Every time I thought of anything that brought me happiness, I added it to the list. I made a conscious effort to not self-edit or judge myself for what I put on the list—a task that is easier said than done! 

Over the course of a few months, the list was getting pretty long. This exercise didn’t result in the eureka moment I was hoping for, but at the time I found it to be a nice reminder of the small things in life I am grateful for.

One of the things on my list was watching movies. Over the holidays I watched Pixar’s latest film Soul. The movie beautifully portrayed how much meaning in life comes from the small moments.

It’s a message we’ve heard before, but in this new COVID-19 world where just showering and putting on pants can be a real accomplishment, Soul’s message resonated with me in a different way.

This is a year where many people have been forced to delay, change, or cancel big plans. Some haven’t been able to take that big international trip, many couldn’t have their dream wedding, and others have seen their small businesses fall apart. 

We have been forced to make our lives and worlds smaller in many ways. While the challenges and hardships cannot be ignored, I have found a lot of comfort in being forced to focus on and celebrate the small things.

As I wrote this, I opened the happiness list on my phone and was struck by how mundane the list is. It includes going for a walk on a warm sunny day, writing a well-articulated email, spending time with friends and family, laughing at my own jokes (because someone has to!), and listening to podcasts in the car. 

While having a grand and specific purpose is wonderful and something that’s exciting to find, it’s not everything. Having one certainly isn’t required to be able to enjoy and experience all of the good things that living has to offer.

So, if the purpose of life is to live and enjoy the small moments, what small, ordinary things make your day? What’s on your happiness list?

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