I read over his list and decided to steal his headers and add my own perspective on what can/would/does make me happy:
1. Appreciate Beauty
The birds are starting to fly south (if they haven’t already) and I’m taking the time to look up into the trees when I hear a bird chirping, singing or making an interesting sound. Sometimes it’s not even the sounds. I was sitting in the Bose cafeteria the other day having lunch when this little burst of red came flapping up against the window. It was a male cardinal which is just not the kind of bird you would expect to see on The Mountain. We Bose workers are accustomed to seeing flocks of junk birds swirling around or the occasional hawk. But here’s the cool thing about paying attention to such things. The reason why the cardinal was attracted to the window was someone had left a red plastic bag on the floor which was visible from the outside and I suspect the cardinal was trying to fly at it. A few moments later we saw the female cardinal in the vicinity of the window doing nothing except patiently waiting for her mate to stop his foolishness of bumping against the window. I’m glad I was paying attention that day.
2. Connect With Nature
I bought this inexpensive little bug vacuum at the store a while back and we use it often in the house to save bugs rather than needlessly killing them. The bug vacuum has helped me connect with nature because I use it to suck up the spiders instead of stomping on them in disgust. Spencer does a much better job of saving the insects than I do because he makes a concerted effort to even suck up ants which to me seem less of an insect than a spider, but who am I to demonstrate class structure in our household? As gross as it is to corner the bug and suck it up into a big plastic tube while fighting my insect phobia, I feel much better about releasing bugs back into the wild rather than killing them. The insects and I have a connection.
I am so lucky to work with a bunch of people who make me laugh during the day. Sometimes I have so much fun at work over that I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do a job that lets me be around such silly people. Sure my co-workers have bad days like the rest of us, but it’s the possibility of laughter that gets us through the miserable times. It’s kind of embarrassing how much I laugh during the day with these people.
4. Have Simple Pleasures
My fire-engine read coffee maker, FOX25 morning news, driving into work in my Mazda3, the DVR, our new bedroom carpet, the sound of my beagle snoring in her bunk, pomegranates and the possibility of owning an Apple Macbook are all things that make me appreciate getting out of bed in the morning.
5. Connect With People
I’ve been trying to climb out of my self-imposed social awkwardness shyness shell at work by talking to people in the elevators at work. I’ve been advised by one of my co-workers Rick (who is so awesome that he has 3 work wives including me although he doesn’t know it yet) to just get in the elevator, don’t make eye contact and look down at the floor. He knows elevators stress me out. I’ve had a past experience riding in the elevator with the president of the company that found me asking him the destination of a mysterious button in the elevator. (It turns out the button is installed in only one of the three elevators that goes to the roof of the building, but I asked him if it was the “mechanical penthouse” which made absolutely no sense at all.) But I press on trying to be friendly and open to idle chatter and small talk while taking the ride from the fourth floor down. It’s good for me to step out of my comfort zone although I don’t know how good it is for my reputation as I’m not very good at it yet.
I recently took a business trip to the Southwest which involved visiting San Luis and Tijuana, Mexico. It became painfully obvious to me that my passionate teenage resentment to learning a foreign language did finally catch up with me. I found myself in a country where I would have benefited knowing how to speak and read Spanish. While relying on the kindness of fluent strangers, I realized that I did myself a disservice by hating Spanish. Had I made an honest effort in high school to learn the language, I would have been comfortable ordering food in Mexico without having to point at a taco like some deaf mute. In my position at work, I regularly interact with people in Mexico that speak English far better than I could ever hope to speak Spanish. I was foolish to hate learning a foreign language and didn’t realize back then that being bi-lingual would have been a substantial asset to my career. My advice is to be always be open to learning new things because you never know when you might need to know what it is you don’t know now.
7. Rethink Your Mornings and Evenings
I’ve begun trying to get in the habit of respecting a routing to ease my daily stress. I have an automated coffee maker and now I set the coffee maker to 6am so that when I wake up in the morning, I won’t have to stumble over to it trying to coordinate placing the filter in the basket and not spilling coffee grinds everywhere because I’m half awake. I do my best to lay out my clothes the night before and make sure the dishwasher is filled with the dirty dishes of the day so Spencer can run a cycle the following morning. I’m all about fine-tuning the morning/evening routines. It’s helped me get to work earlier and has allowed me to go to bed happy.
8. Celebrate Your Successes
It’s so easy for me to berate myself for the things that I haven’t accomplished yet. But when I think right this very instant about a recent success, I’ll have to be proud of surviving this first year without my mother. Of course I knew that I could survive after she died on November 29th of last year, but I secretly feared that my feelings about her death would spill over into work. I worried that I would be so consumed by grief that it would negatively impact my job performance. I imagined being called into the office by my boss asking why my performance had tanked or finding myself at the local pharmacy every month getting a refill of Prozac just so I could get through the day. But I managed to be very strong this year and not let my feelings about what happened to my mom affect me at work. Hardly anyone that has worked with me knew how deeply I missed my mother this year and I’m proud that I was able to separate my personal life from my work life. It’s this secret success I’m most proud of.