Friday is for Favorites: Happy Thoughts


When I’m asked to make lists, it usually takes me about three times as long as expected. Be it a list of groceries, positive personality traits, likes and dislikes, or even types of animals, I always manage to get stuck. It’s not as though I can’t write a list; the larger problem is when I accidentally derail myself by word associating. I’ll be writing down that I need flour, which is needed to make cookies, which my sister Kate really likes to bake, which she’ll probably do next weekend for her boyfriend, who is obsessed with brownies, and shoot I forgot to get that birthday cake for so-and-so, maybe I need to get a present as well—you see? Who knew writing down groceries could be a chore.

That said, I recently had to write a list of my top five likes for a job application, and I actually found it to be really fun. Since then, I’ve tried to write lists of happy things. Here is a small sample:

Action movies

A well-written book

A beautiful story

Shades of blue

A cup of tea with morning Bible study

Pancake breakfasts with my siblings

A sunrise hike to anywhere

A dirty chai at 5 a.m. before an excessively long car drive

My friend Jerry’s laugh

Piano melodies by my friend Christine

Catch-up phone calls with my parents


Hopeful endings

There are lots of moments where, sometimes, I struggle to think about anything positive. Sometimes I worry about things I can’t control, be that people drowning in the Mediterranean, the treatment of women on certain college campuses, or even some of my closest friends’ decisions. The anxiety kicks in, my heart flutters, and my chest tightens. All the darkness that so easily creeps in flows through my stomach, and I recognize that I am not in control. I cannot be in control, and that scares me.

But here’s the secret: not being in control is not the end of the world. It’s the beginning of it. All those happy things? They’re spontaneous. They’re temporary. They’re emotional. And they’re beautiful because of it. They are blessings in the midst of this chaotic world.

Whatever you’re doing today, pause and think of five happy things. They don’t have to be big; they can be as small as a smile or a heartbeat.  When you think of them, write them down and stick them in your pocket.

You never know when you’ll need to fight the darkness. It’s easier when you have a little bit of sunshine.

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