31 Things that Add Joy to My Life

Do you spend much time doing things that make you feel good and laugh or feel inspired and happy inside? Life is no big deal (to paraphrase an ad I once saw about marriage), it’s a lot of little daily ones. The more we can fill our lives with joyous moments, the happier our lives will be.

As I was thinking about just such a thought two days ago, I began jotting down some of those things that make me feel good and ad joy to my life. The following come in no particular order other than as they came to me as I sat at my desk and pecked away at my laptop.

Maybe a few resonate with you. Maybe a few can inspire you to add something more to your life. Maybe you’ll simply decide to do the same exercise and list the things that bring you joy and tape them somewhere prominent as you remind yourself to start adding more of them to your day more often.

In any event, here’s a list of …

31 Things that Simply Make me Feel Good about Life and Living

I hope you enjoy!

1. Sitting at home with my family gathered around, eating good food and talking or playing a game or just goofing off.

2. Hearing my wife laugh and giggle. She has a beautiful smile and one of those contagious laughs that puts smiles on everyone else’s face when she laughs. It sure does mine, anyway.

3. Finding a well-made movie with an actual moral point, something that contains a message of decency or courage, honesty or perseverance and the like. Remember the Titans, Rudy, Invictus and Groundhog Day are good examples. (Don’t hate because I added Groundhog Day! I just love that movie! Watch while thinking about what it says about human nature and how the main character transforms over the course of time. The silly comedy really does have a good message, even if it failed to win anything at the Grammies!)

4. Swimming. Hiking. Escaping to nature. There is something soothing and invigorating and refreshing about water and nature.

5. Gratitude: I find the trait of gratitude in others to be an extremely attractive quality. I love when people give that standard open-palm hand acknowledgment when you let them merge into your lane. That simple gesture of gratitude goes a long way and makes me smile.

6. Sitting down with a well-written, thoughtful or inspiring book: Anything from Stephen R. Covey or Martin Seligman, a good biography or autobiography, such as Gandhi’s or Benjamin Franklin’s. I love reading history and political science, economics, current events, self-help, sociology and psychology. I find joy in books on productivity and leadership, the great wisdom literature and works from the likes of Plato and Aristotle, the Buddha, Lao Tse, and in scripture (mine and others’). My library is something like 1,000 books strong … and growing.

7. Coming home to excited shouts of, “Yay! Daddy’s home!” Or when my 5-year-old son tells me he loves me a google or that there’s nothing he loves more than his family.

8. Simple Human Decency: People doing good to strangers inspires me and fills me with hope and joy. Simply put, it feels good to see others do good. It makes me smile and want to be better, more thoughtful and compassionate and loving and kind. Check out this post from Marc and Angel Hack Life for some inspiring stories, many of which demonstrate simple human decency of the kind I’m talking about. (http://www.marcandangel.com/2011/07/11/25-inspiring-stories-to-make-you-smile/)

9. Writing … usually! I love thinking through a post idea, studying the issue, doing whatever research may be necessary and then crafting the sentences and arranging the ideas in some kind of sequence that makes sense to me. I love the process I go through. It’s a growing experience for me. As I write about becoming better and happier, I become better and happier!

10. Inspiration and Epiphanies. From others. From Above. Insight. The “a-ha” moments in life. I just deeply enjoy those light bulb, sudden realization moments.

11. Hearing my daughter play piano or sing, especially when she’s performing. She’s amazing! I especially love her original stuff that she wrote and arranged and performs. Just a huge slice of heaven!

12. Reading wonderful comments from wonderful people with wonderful insights or helpful suggestions or kind thoughts. You are all so amazing. Thank you.

13. Playing piano … sometimes. I can’t read a lick of music, but usually enjoy improvising. But I have to be in the right mood for it.

14. Playing guitar … always. Same as with the piano, except I do know a couple songs, but still mostly improvising. I love playing the blues. So much expression can be had with that instrument. Lately, that’s been my instrument of choice.

15. Going to church. Just love it. The community of like-minded people. The mutual encouragement. The religious and moral instruction. The contemplation. The weekly reminder that life has meaning and purpose in an ultimate sense, that there is reason behind it all and a reason we all are, that there’s a clockmaker behind the clock.

16. Hearing a good sermon or talk or discussion or debate (not necessarily all occurring in church or at the same time!). I love to learn and to share. I love to be challenged with new data and new interpretations and new arguments. I love thinking through issues and debating those with differing viewpoints.

17. Children. I love to watch my son and his little 5-year-old friends play. They are so adventurous, so in the moment and spontaneous. If something seems funny or silly they say it, simply, without thought or adornment or self-censure, simply because it was fun or silly to say. I love to hear them laugh and giggle and hold simple conversations about Transformers and what their favorite food is. I love when they make up knock-knock jokes that don’t make sense, and they laugh hysterically as though they did. The purity and innocents is refreshing, to say the least.

18. Buying a new book. I have maybe 1,000+ books. I love holding them and reading them and marking them up and taking notes from them and jotting down notes in them. I love the smell and feel of books. I can sit down anywhere with a book. They are wonderfully as mobile as you are!

19. Discovering a new blog I really like. There is so much that is wonderfully good out there in the blogosphere, even if it has to be sought out amidst lots of junk. But the gems are worth the effort and add so much pleasure as I delve into their topics and follow their conversations (and sometimes join the conversations as well!)

20. Learning something new. I just love learning and gaining new insights. I have a very visceral reaction to truth. I’m very passionate about it. It excites me. But I also love picking up a new talent or honing a skill or improving a hobby. It just feels good to me.

21. Get-togethers at my brother’s place with the larger extended family. I love my brothers, their wives, my dear sister who lives too far away, my nieces and nephews, my mom and dad and his wife. We all get along and love to be around each other. We didn’t always see eye to eye growing up, but as adults, we can hardly get enough of each other. I know I’m lucky in having a family like this.

22. Rain. Perhaps oddly, I love the rain. It’s cool. It’s refreshing. It smells good. It brings with it a contemplative mood. And I love contemplating! And rain where I live is always mild enough that we never worry when a storm blows in.

23. My garden. I love picking perfectly ripened veggies, cooking them up (or, more accurately, waiting for my wonderful wife to cook them up!), and eating them with a tender piece of lemon or rosemary chicken and some brown rice. Mmmm! I love watching everything grow. I love the sent and the colors and the feel of being out in my backyard amongst the beauty, especially in spring and early summer.

24. Simple and (usually) healthy food. I don’t need the caviar, the fancy restaurant, the high-priced menu. Give me a delicious meal of chicken breast or something with ground turkey on brown rice with loads of olive-oil sautéed veggies (preferably from the garden) , a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, a slice of pizza (on occasion), or a handful or blueberries or almonds and I’m a happy camper!

25. Friends. We all need them. Fortunately, I’m married to my best friend. Makes it convenient.

26. Updates from former students. The visits and surprise birthday parties and baby showers former students of mine have thrown for me is beyond touching (see #31).

27. Listening to great music. I grew up with Zeppelin and Rush. But I also love the blues, jazz, classical, progressive and alternative rock and several other genres of music. I particularly get excited over music that has complex rhythms or music that requires great musicianship to play. Excellence excites me, whether in sports, business, character or music.

28. Snuggling up on the couch with my wife. I especially love it when our snuggling turns into some passionate kissing. I love kissing my wife. ;) Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face as I type. (Hey, Honey! If you’re reading this right now, could you come here for a minute?)

29. Hugs. We’re a hugging family. My wife and I hug throughout the day. My kids grew up with hugs and kisses. I hug my parents, my brothers (of the dude-like, slap on the back variety) and sister, my brother’s wives. It just plain feels good. So why not?

30. Seeing progress toward my goals. It always feels good to see progress, to know that due to a lot of persistent hard work, I’m moving, developing as a person, improving, growing as a blogger or as a teacher or as a parent. It motivates me to set new goals and accomplish greater possibilities.

31. Teaching. I teach high school seniors the glories of economics and the mysteries of U.S. Government. I’ve also taught U.S. History, though not currently. I love everything about it … usually. I love the kids, I love the subjects, I love the art of what I do. I love introducing important themes and ideas to young minds. And I love the vacations!

How About you?

  • What would you include on your list that’s not on mine?
  • Any of mine that resonate with you?
  • Do you regularly spend time with the things on your list?
  • If not, why not?
  • I would love it if you would share your thoughts below in the comments.