Happiness is so large and unwieldy a topic that I confess I felt daunted.

So I decided to approach it from the other end, focusing on the tiny details instead of the big picture.

Here are some things that never fail to make me happy:

(see left for illustration of me, happy)

  • Starbucks venti nonfat latte with 2 splendas
  • Colin Hay “Waiting for my Real Life to Begin,” Death Cab for Cutie “A Lack of Color,” Ben Folds “The Luckiest,” Ben Harper, and the Up in the Air soundtrack
  • Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc on the rocks in my stemless wineglasses
  • Clean sheets on my bed
  • My annual Christmas movie alone
  • Doing backdives off the edge of my parents’ boat
  • My sleeping children
  • My iPhone
  • Holiday cards
  • The sound of halyards snapping against masts
  • Stationery and fountain pens
  • The smell of laundry
  • Jack Rogers sandals
  • My photo printer
  • Poetry by Mary Oliver, Jane Kenyon, Sharon Olds, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton
  • Red licorice
  • Classics: Gatsby, the Sun Also Rises, Crossing to Safety
  • My leather and gold/silver bracelet that I never take off
  • A cross-country flight solo
  • Mark Rothko’s color fields paintings

Get Lindsey's thoughts on mindful living and parenting in your inbox


  1. Christa
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Wonderful – love the image of you and, as always, your words…

  2. Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    fantastic and thought-provoking!!!

    thank you for this.

  3. Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Aww, sweetie, that photo of you is just beautiful.

    I love that you mentioned your books/poetry AND your iPhone–you are truly a woman of modern times.

  4. Posted May 12, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Yes, especially to clean sheets and sleeping kids. Apparently, my happiness resides in a bed.

  5. Posted May 12, 2010 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I adore this list Lindsey! and what a beautiful photo of you – infectious!! I am honored to share that smile with you from far away! What a great way to start the day!

  6. Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    The photo you chose goes beyond happiness! Perfect! And your list? Love it – clean sheets, lattes, sleeping children, backflips, holiday cards! I’m with you!

  7. Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I feel warm and happy just looking at that pure joy on your face! Love it.
    Clean sheets… ahhh. I’m heading up now to put some on the bed as a matter of fact! And the backdives? When I wasn’t scared to do them, also made me happy. Now it’s cartwheels on the beach.

    Love this list. We should all have a list as long to remind us of the little things.

  8. Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Love the photo; I can feel the happiness πŸ™‚

    I love Gatsby as well…one of my fav books.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Posted May 12, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Oh Lindsey. For all of your thought-provoking posts, your candid discussions of sadness and struggle, and the confession in your bio that you cry more than you laugh – for all of those things the photo above just warmed my heart on this rainy day.

    admin Reply:

    Gale, thank you! I often worry that I come across as hopelessly gloomy and sad on this blog … I swear I am not. I just find that richer terrain for exploration, I guess.

  10. Posted May 12, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Fun! I like this stuff, it really helps us to get to know you better. For me it’s a Grande, Non-Fat, Extra Hot Peppermint Mocha. And yes, clean sheet night is a celebration at our house.

    And your photo just makes me want to laugh right along with you. Awesome!

  11. Posted May 12, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Backdives off the boat. Wahoooo!!!!!!
    Clean sheets…ditto.

  12. Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    when it comes to red licorice: Are Red Vines OK or is it Twizzlers? Because this is a very hot topic at my house. My boys are Twizzler people, but we have guests that swear by Red Vines. So…what brings happiness to you?

    For me? I have a set of periwinkle sheets. Clean or slightly dirty they are heaven to crawl into. Why I waited so long to find these sheets? I’ll never know. So glad to know you love sheets too.

    admin Reply:

    You know, I like Australian red licorice (quite different, I get it at Trader Joe’s and now Target has it) and also Twizzlers cherry nibs. Fairly picky!
    I also have a weird fixation that my sheets have to be white. No idea why. But they make me soooo happy!

  13. Posted May 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous list! It really is the simple things, isn’t it?!

  14. Posted May 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    This is something to print and tack up for days when the happy seems too far out of reach. Love that photo!

  15. Posted May 12, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    I struggled to write about happiness today and ended up with a mess. I love your list! Thank you for sharing. I think I will go make a list for myself, to lighten my mood.

  16. Posted May 12, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Clean sheets definitely make for happiness around here. : )

  17. Posted May 12, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Love the list. Relate to the i-phone and the stationery. Hemingway is one of my favorite authors. I also like reading the morning paper with my cup of coffee. Singing in my car to my favorite tune and a good night of uninterrupted sleep (although with my four year old I may have to postpone that happiness).

  18. Posted May 12, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    You had me at Starbucks. Or maybe Oyster Bay. Or Jack Rogers. Definitely at Crossing to Safety. I guess this is why we have been friends for so long.

  19. Posted May 12, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    fountain pens, anne sexton, and the smell of laundry. you are so speaking my language.

  20. Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh how I love red licorice and a good Christmas movie πŸ™‚ (mine is classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, and I have to watch it alone or else my husband rolls his eyes at his weepy mess of a wife)
    And clean sheets… (my memories post actually has something to do w/ sheets)
    Lovely list πŸ™‚ And lovely take on happiness.

  21. Posted May 12, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Cool! We had the same basic idea for this topic, except I use photos for my list. Honestly, I, too, was incredibly daunted by this one and thought the best way to share was through the things that bring me JOY. Love your list…especially the Starbucks and flipping off the boat!

  22. Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh yes. I can identify with many of these things. And don’t you know that every time I fold laundry, I still think of you. Creating order out of chaos, yes?

    I adore this picture of you. It is, unequivocally, my favorite image I’ve ever seen on your blog. I think it ought to be your new profile pic. Totally serious. You are beautiful. And even more beautiful with a raw, real smile shining through.

  23. Posted May 12, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I HAVE to have white sheets too! It’s kind of nuts, right, but anything else would be ALL WRONG. Love clean white sheets.

    I love the picture of you too. It fits you. I’m hoping to see just that expression in August.

    Loved your list. Made me write my own list in my head for the rest of the day. Might have to post tomorrow!

    admin Reply:

    please do post it tomorrow!

    Mama Reply:

    P.S. — Favorite book? Great Gatsby. Ben Folds? Pink puffy heart him!

  24. Posted May 12, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Oh… Sleeping children. That warms my heart! I often peek in, hoping not to wake them, just to see them sleeping. Thanks for that!

  25. Posted May 13, 2010 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I heart this list so much, I want to invite you over for wine and a dip in my hot tub where we can discuss books and poetry and our favourite iPhone apps! Happy Five for Ten!

  26. Posted May 13, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    I love this! I love happiness in the little things – it’s so important to recognize and appreciate these small sources of joy.

    For me, it’s take-and-bake pizza, kisses from the dog, a cold beer on a hot afternoon, the smell of lilacs…