The 2019 Happiness Project

2 Jan

Photo credit: Jessica Noel/fabcocktail.com

In November 2017, a live-entertainment producer named Jared Paul opened a venue in Chicago called the Happy Place. Dubbed “the most Instagrammable pop-up in America” by Urban Daddy, the bright, colorful, and yes, photogenic playspace was “a themed immersive experience designed to help you escape for a very short time and immerse yourself in happiness,” Paul explained.

The Happy Place sounds like it was a lot of fun. I mean, who wouldn’t love an interactive “exhibit” filled with balloons and gumballs and confetti and rubber duckies and rainbow grilled cheese sandwiches? I was in Chicago twice last July, and I’m sorry I didn’t know about it then. Otherwise, I surely would have checked it out. (Following its nine-month engagement in Chicago, the Happy Place opened in Toronto in November 2018. It has also been in Los Angeles.)

Of course, actual happiness is a bit more elusive. I mean, it’s not exactly a subtle metaphor that Paul’s pop-up is just temporary; I suspect the high from experiencing it is also short-lived. Further, as researchers often point out, the more you try to be happy, the less happy you’ll actually be. In fact, as a recent study revealed, a constant pursuit of happiness can actually increase feelings of loneliness and disconnection. And you can’t really study how to be happy — though apparently, a class does exist (at Yale University, of all places).

On the other hand, there are small things you can do to boost the hormones that lead to happiness, that have a legit, longer-lasting effect on your well-being. One of the most oft-cited by some of those same researchers is regular expressions of gratitude — in a “gratitude journal,” for example.

In 2015, as an exercise in gratitude, I began documenting one thing every day that made me smile. I called it my “Happiness Project,” and indeed, it offered valuable perspective and balance during an, at times, frustrating year, allowing my mood to stay positive. I didn’t repeat the journaling exercise the next year, and as you may recall, it proved to be a very challenging 12 months, with lots of negativity swirling around. I brought the Project back in 2017, and it actually made a real difference in my mindset. No surprise, then, that I decided to do another Project in 2018; again, it helped me have a better year.

I don’t often stick with such things, but I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep this Project going for three full years. And I’m confident that doing it has made a real difference in my life.

Photo credit: Jessica Noel/fabcocktail.com

And so, as we begin another year, one in which the tone in our country seems to have gotten even uglier, and self-care is becoming even more critical, I’ve decided to (hopefully) keep the trend going, and start another Happiness Project for 2019.

Same drill as before: At the end of every day, I will update this blog post with a short blurb about one thing (big or small) that happened that I am grateful for or that made me smile. Just that simple. Then, in December, I’ll be able to look back on a year in which I was happy — regardless of what else was going on around me.

I need to acknowledge that, yes, the name of this “journal” is a nod to Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project,” which started as an experiment and became a best-selling book (that, full disclosure, I’ve never actually read) and movement.

Like Rubin, I’m doing this Happiness Project for myself and my own self-care, but obviously, I’m sharing it in a public venue. That’s not because of the social-media-age belief that “happiness is only real when it’s shared” — a concept that was clearly in mind when Jared Paul created the Happy Place. It’s because I’m hopeful that my Project may inspire others to follow my lead. If you do start your own version of a Happiness Project, I’d love to hear about it and whether the exercise helps you as much as it does me.

Alright. Enough intro. Here’s what made me happy every day in 2019.

August 23
TBD

August 22
It wasn’t the most exciting night, but I was happy to be home tonight and to make dinner for myself, after a few nights in a row of being out.

August 21
Took a chance today — a big one — and got lunch from The Similans, the Thai restaurant across the street from our office. But you know what? What I ate (Pad See Ew) was actually delicious. I guess Matt knew what he was talking about. Anyway, I would definitely eat there again.

August 20
I learned today that I’m getting a raise. I guess it’s that time of the year again. No complaints.

August 19
What a pleasant — and devilishly funny — surprise Ready or Not was tonight. I really enjoyed this crazy little movie.

August 18
I’m glad I decided to stop at Stop & Shop on my way home from Pawtucket today, and, among other things, pick up some fresh rolls and turkey to use for lunch these next couple days. I’m hopeful this will be a better lunch option than the kinds of things I’ve been eating lately.

August 17
I’m glad Alexa was wrong today, and that, not only didn’t it rain, but the sun came out, too. It made for a fun day in the city with Abby, Marc, Ian, Mitzi, and Jason.

August 16
Summer Fridays really are great: Less traffic driving to/from work, getting out of work earlier and getting in a little exercise before dinner … etc. etc.

August 15
Good time catching up and eating dinner with Elizabeth tonight at the Time Out Market. I really enjoy that this place exists now.

August 14
Decided to FaceTime Rebecca to surprise Daniel, and sure enough, he looked like he enjoyed showing off his popsicle and his new pet caterpillars, and showing me that the stuffed Chase and Marshall dolls I got him were still doing well. #goodtimes

August 13
Good news: When I have plans in the city after work, it turns out I don’t have to take the T, after all. Tonight I had a movie screening at Boston Common, and on the way home, I was very easily able to cross the river at the Mass Ave. Bridge, find parking in Kenmore Square, and then take the T in to the theater. As long as there’s no Red Sox game, that’s a great option to have.

August 12
I worked from home today, which was exciting because the book I made on Shutterfly of photos from my Los Angeles trip arrived, and I was happy to not have to wait all day to flip through it.

August 11
Abby came home from camp today in a good, happy, talkative mood, so I got to have one of the longest conversations with her tonight that I’ve had in a very long time.

August 10
When I was at Warner Bros. Studios a couple weeks ago, the gift shop didn’t have the shirt I wanted in my size, so I decided to buy the next size up, with the thought that it would shrink over time — and therefore, last longer. Well, imagine my happiness today when I put on that larger shirt and learned it’s cut in a way that allowed it to actually fit comfortably now without being too big. That was a nice surprise.

August 9
Since our office move, I don’t walk nearly as much as I used to. So I’m really glad I now have an adjustable desk at work so, at the very least, I can stand for a chunk of my day (as I did for much of today) instead of sitting on my ass.

August 8
I enjoyed last night’s premiere of BH90210, but it was pretty bad. That said, this brand new preview of next week’s episode has me very excited.

August 7
Today I was happy that, when the sky opened up and it was pouring, I was inside grabbing lunch and had somewhere to sit and eat until the rain stopped.

August 6
I’m glad I took a quick cat-nap after dinner tonight so I could be awake enough to stay up and watch the Woodstock documentary on PBS. It was great!

August 5
I had an 8:30am dentist appointment today. But that’s not what made me happy. It was the fact that everything after the dentist appointment was so much better by comparison. #perspective

August 4
I’m sorry they weren’t busier, but it’s always nice when I can walk in to the Station Diner on a Sunday and have my choice of stool at the bar.

August 3
Tonight I finally saw Hootie & the Blowfish live in concert, after years of wanting to. It was a fun show, we had fantastic seats, and I’m glad that Holly and I didn’t have to wait too long (relatively speaking) to get out of the awful Xfinity Center parking lot when it was over.

August 2
This morning I was happy that when a bike rider in front of me stopped short to pick up something she dropped, that I was able to stop quickly enough without hitting her, and that the bike rider behind me was able to stop without slamming into my car, and that no one was hurt and no cars were damaged. It could have been a bad scene.

August 1
I’m really digging my new commute to/from work. Not only do I get to the office in less time when I drive, but I have a nice drive along Memorial Drive in the afternoon, and I get home at a decent enough hour to make a good dinner for myself, as I did tonight.

July 31
Today, I was happy I decided to return my rental car and stay in a hotel close to the airport last night, because it meant I could wake up and go this morning, without having to be up super early and fight traffic en route to LAX.

July 30
Thank God for the single-rider line at Universal Studios, which allowed me to get on a handful of rides today without waiting — including the excellent new/updated Jurassic World, which I went on twice.

July 29
Today I was surprised and happy to get an email from Todd, and then to meet up with him for dinner. Wasn’t expecting to see him on this trip, but I’m glad it all worked out. It was good to catch up with him — as well as Ross and Jake over the weekend.

July 28
This morning, I was happy to have gotten into the Broad museum early enough to get a good slot in the Infinity Mirrored Room. It was very cool.

July 27
Today I was thankful for A/C: Both the kind that cools the air, given the extreme heat, and A.C. Slater, aka Mario Lopez, who I got to meet and take a photo with after the (super fun) Yachtley Crew concert tonight.

July 26
It was so great to be back at the Getty Center today. Oh man, do I love that place.

July 25
All the Disneyland, including the immersive Galaxy’s Edge area, Mickey Mouse ice cream pops, having a castle view of the fireworks, the Roger Rabbit ride, and much more … and spending the day with Glenda and her son, Matthew.

July 24
Today, I was happy that, on my flight to L.A., the heavy-set guy in the middle seat next to me decided to switch seats with the guy in the aisle seat’s much smaller girlfriend. Phew.

Jon Stewart laughs as Mitch McConnell walks byJuly 23
This photo of Jon Stewart smiling as Mitch McConnell walked by made my day today. Instant classic. Ayyuuuupppppp.

July 22
Day one at the new office, and I gotta say: I already like being able to drive home from work. Tonight, within an hour after leaving the office in Kendall Square, I had already made it to Cleveland Circle and gotten a haircut. Not bad. Not bad at all.

July 21
Today was a good day, and here’s why … I’m glad I went (with Dawn) to see Dear Evan Hansen for a second time tonight. The touring production wasn’t as good as the original Broadway one, but it’s still a fantastic show and I enjoyed seeing it again.

July 20
Excellent, if somewhat mellow, show by John Mayer tonight in Providence. He sounded great, the band was tight, the venue actually had decent acoustics (despite being an arena), I had a great seat, and John sang “Walt Grace”!! So happy I decided to snag a last-minute ticket earlier this week and go to this show.

July 19
This tweet.

July 18
I’m glad my day today didn’t get crazy as it went on, so I could leave my apartment early enough to get to the movies tonight on time. And thankfully, a train was right there at the station when I got there, so I didn’t have to wait for one.

July 17
Today was our last day working at 260 Franklin Street, so I made sure to grab breakfast and lunch from two of my favorite places, and then a bunch of us went out for drinks later to say farewell to the office. All in all, a fun day.

July 16
I saw an advance screening of Blinded by the Light tonight, and while it’s often corny and a little too long, it’s still a heartfelt love letter to Bruce Springsteen, and I enjoyed it. May have even teared up a little toward the end.

July 15
This morning I was happy when I got to Park Street and the escalator was working again.

July 14
There are advantages to being single/solo … like today, when I went to the Friendly Toast downtown for brunch and didn’t have to wait for a table, because there was a single seat available at the bar. And then a few more seats opened up with a better view of the TV, so I was able to move over and watch some of the Wimbledon men’s final while I ate.

July 13
It was nice to wake up this morning and learn that the Red Sox won big against the Dodgers last night, 8-1.

July 12
The revamped Jurassic World ride at Universal Studios Hollywood officially opened today, in time for me to check it out when I’m there later this month. Woo hoo!!

July 11
Tonight I had my first Toasted S’moreo of the year at Emack and Bolio’s. Yum.

July 10
Even though I was running a little late in getting to the airport this morning, I was happy to still have had enough time to have breakfast at Ruby’s at the Las Vegas airport.

July 9
Today I was happy that, when I had finished washing my hands and blowing my nose in the bathroom, and realized that I was actually in the ladies’ room and not the men’s room, that there was no one else there or in the vicinity to witness my stupidity. Phew!

July 8
Glad I decided to check my bag en route from Chicago to Las Vegas today. It made traveling that much easier.

July 7
Today, the day after the festivities in Michigan City is always so nice … waking up and sitting on the porch, just hanging out on the quiet beach, talking with Andrew and Rachel, and playing in the water with Tali and Gabriel.

July 6
I really love the July 4th weekend Michigan City tradition, and am so happy I’ve been invited to it and been able to attend all these times — especially if it’s true that today was the last one ever. Also, related: Drunken Salami is so delicious.

July 5
Damn, the Hamilton Exhibit is so well done. Really glad I was able to see it, and that, when I was there today, it wasn’t overcrowded, so I could enjoy and take all the pics I wanted.

July 4
Went to the new Roots store in Chicago today, and it’s really nice, but two other highlights: The manager used to work at the Newbury Street store in Boston, and recognized me right away because I used to visit that one often. And also, there was a special deal going on, so I bought two t-shirts that normally would have cost $90 (combined) for only $35. Sweet!

July 3
It’s nice to have out-of-town visitors stay with me, but I do so enjoy having my apartment quiet and back to normal again.

July 2
Decided to sleep with my bedroom window open last night, and that made waking up this morning so nice. A bit brighter than I wanted, but still … I slept well, and my room was a pleasant temperature when I woke up.

July 1
Dan and I checked out the new Time Out food hall tonight, and damn, was that cool. I had some delicious spaghetti cacio de pepe from Michael Schlow’s “restaurant,” and I would have had more (that, or something else). This “market” is a real nice place, a big improvement over what was there before, and definitely somewhere I could see myself going to often.

June 30
I’m glad I decided to park in the garage when I went to the Kendall Square theater today, instead of on a side street, like I usually do on Sundays, because it was raining pretty hard when I got out of my movie and I didn’t have my umbrella with me.

June 29
Tonight I queued up two blog posts to go live over the next two days. When was the last time I did that?

June 28
After three attempts, this afternoon I finally found a locksmith/hardware store that could/would copy my keys. Apparently, not every store is equipped to do so, based on the type of keys I have.

June 27
After our tour of our new office space in Kendall Square this afternoon, Maureen drove me down Memorial Drive and dropped me at the BU Bridge. It was such a nice night to walk across the river and then up Comm Ave. for a while.

June 26
Learned today that at Workday Rising in October, which I intend to be at, Jerry Seinfeld and Lin-Manuel Miranda will be doing keynotes, and the customer appreciation party will be at Universal Studios Orlando — they’re renting out the entire park for the night and having a big concert. Wow!

June 25
It made me happy to see Abby looking like she’s having a great time in the pictures posted today from camp. She’s like a different person when she’s there, and I love that she’s so happy.

June 24
It was a good day to hit the snooze button an extra time, so I did.

June 23
I was very happy this afternoon to see that Star Market in Chestnut Hill has restored their self-checkout lanes, with six or eight (I forget), terminals. It’s about time!

June 22
Today, while driving to New York, more than one cop car moved out of its parking spot on the side of the road right as I drove by. So I was happy that none of those cops was taking off to catch up to me. Phew!

June 21
I don’t care what it says about me: I really like The Match Game. And I enjoy watching it while eating dinner on Friday nights.

June 20
The Daily Catch in Brookline may be my new favorite restaurant, so I’m glad Amy and I ended up there for dinner tonight, instead of the place downtown (that I wasn’t crazy about) where we had reservations. It was a delicious meal and a fun evening.

June 19
Today, I was happy I decided to veer off into the carriage lane on Comm Ave en route to meet the Alberts at Brandeis, because when I got to the firehouse at Washington Street, I had successfully gotten in front of the slow-moving truck that was holding up traffic for the first part of my drive. #FTW

June 18
I had the Wallflowers in my head this morning, so I was glad Maureen and Melissa were both not in the office today, so I could compile a playlist of Wallflowers songs and listen to them all day long while I worked.

June 17
Tonight felt like the first at-home weeknight I’ve had in a long while. Felt good to make dinner for myself, and watch the nightly news, and do a little cleaning, and catch up on a phone call, and knock some stuff out of the DVR queue.

June 16
Was a nice surprise to get a text message from Andrew today telling me to come meet his family and spend the afternoon with them. Especially since I wasn’t expecting to see them till Wednesday. It’s always fun to surprise the kids and spend time with them.

June 15
Glad I got to Coolidge Corner this afternoon with time to kill before my movie, so I could run in to the Gap and have them remove the security tag that was still on a shirt I bought at Banana Republic last month. One more thing off the weekend to-do list!

June 14
My 8:30 am meeting, which was moved to 4 pm, eventually got moved to Monday … so, because there were only three people in the office today (total), and neither of them was Melissa or Maureen, I was able to leave work early and get some exercise in before going to dinner.

June 13
It was announced today that Sarah Huckabee Colonel Sanders is stepping down as White House Press Secretary at the end of the month. She will not be missed.

June 12
Learned today that Bruegger’s has a loyalty program/app. I don’t go there all the time, but I do go there often enough, so it’ll be nice to be rewarded for it.

June 11
Decided to do an “experiment” today and get a salad at Hale & Hearty for lunch that didn’t have as many ingredients, but was simple and just what I wanted. And it ended up being a good choice. But even better: It was basically free, because I had $10 in credit sitting in my LevelUp account to use at H&H. So, a successful experiment.

June 10
I thought seeing the new Shaft movie tonight was going to be a waste of my time, but it ended up being a lot of fun, and better than expected.

June 9
Today I was happy I finished my Content Marketing Awards judging at a decent hour so I could get some exercise in before heading to dinner, since I didn’t do it this morning.

June 8
Really glad I decided to watch a few episodes of The Chef Show on Netflix today. The movie itself was so good, and this spinoff show is a really fun watch.

Purple sky over FenwayJune 7
Today was a good birthday. I was in a good place for it, mentally, and I heard from a lot of people and we had a fun celebration at work and I had a fun time on a beautiful night at the Red Sox game (even though they lost) and people seemed to like my blog post and Jamie Cullum’s new album dropped and now I may go to Las Vegas next month (for work) … and I really loved the message that Ian wrote in his card: “Your hart [sic] is made of gold.” Awwww … So yeah, it was just a good day overall.

June 6
The weather cleared up and got real nice this afternoon, so I spent Erev Yom Ha’Martin at the Scooper Bowl, eating all the ice cream I could stomach. Good times …

June 5
Glad to have landed back at Logan Airport 20 minutes early tonight, especially because I had a screaming baby seated next to me, and she was restless.

June 4
Had a good time going out with Maureen and John tonight, supposedly as an early birthday celebration. Some good laughs were had.

June 3
After a long day inside the hotel today, I was happy I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood tonight after dinner. It was warm and humid out, and there wasn’t much to see or do, but I enjoyed the fresh air anyway.

June 2
This morning, I was happy that, when the waitress at LTK at Logan Airport spilled maple syrup over the side of the table where I was sitting, that she missed me and my bag. Phew! Thankfully, I was then able to move tables, and the restaurant comped me my meal.

June 1
It was so cool today to see pages of Louis — the magazine I did at Brandeis 23 years ago — still on the wall of the Justice office. The page with the Editors’ Note is there because, as one editor told me, “I really like how it was written.” So cool.

May 31
Alumni Weekend at Brandeis started today, which meant the special alumni issue of the Justice was distributed in print and published online. I heard some very good feedback about my article, both online and then tonight, in person, from Howard and others. It was a lot of fun to hang out with him and some of my other former editor pals, and to reminisce about good ole days.

May 30
I’ve (95%) successfully migrated my work computer from a PC to a Mac, and I’m very happy about that. Working on a Mac is just a better, easier experience.

May 29
What We Do in the Shadows aired its first-season finale tonight. I’m so glad I decided to watch that show. It’s great.

May 28
Today I was happy once again that I bought and was wearing the hybrid vest from Roots. It’s comfy, stylish, and keeps me warm on chilly, wet, raw days like today was.

May 27
A very productive afternoon today, cleaning out more of my second storage unit than I expected to, including a lot of stuff I haven’t seen since the day I moved in. Suffice it to say, it’s been bagged up and is now ready for (another) donation this coming weekend.

May 26
Today I was happy I drove up to Portsmouth, NH, to catch up with Jenny over brunch and wander around. Gorgeous day, and I do love Portsmouth.

May 25
The air conditioning in my car wasn’t working today, so I was happy that I could get it looked at and fixed on a Saturday.

May 24
Got a jump on tomorrow by going through my storage bin tonight and throwing all the bags of clothes I’m donating into the car. There were so many! I can’t even imagine how long some of them had been waiting around for me to get rid of them. Suffice it to say, the bin is now a bit roomier, and I look forward to making better use of it moving forward.

May 23
Got confirmation today that I need to go to Atlanta in a couple weeks for work. It’ll be my first time there since Wheels, in 1990, so I’m looking forward to seeing the city again.

May 22
Really enjoyed Booksmart tonight. It lives up to the hype.

May 21
I learned today that a new Roots store, the biggest one ever, is opening this Thursday on Michigan Ave. in Chicago. And that made me excited, even though I live in Boston and we have two Roots stores here. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to checking out this new store when I’m in Chicago this summer.

May 20
It appears that my upstairs neighbor may have gone home to China for the summer, because it’s been very quiet the last few days, and she is clearly not there. Maybe having a college student living above me won’t be so bad, after all.

May 19
Today, Andrew told me he was getting paid $500 for the article I wrote for him, and he was planning to give that money all to me. I would have done it for free (and I assumed I had), so that was a nice (and much appreciated) gesture.

May 18
Glad I saw a tweet this afternoon that the “limited edition” Target/Vineyard Vines collab launched today, and people were going nuts trying to buy the stuff. It prompted me to look, and see that a shirt I wanted was still available at the Target at B.U., and was actually reasonably priced. So I ran over and bought the last one.

May 17
Despite leaving Chestnut Hill at 6pm on a Friday night, Dawn and I made it to Worcester on time for the special 30th anniversary screening of Say Anything (which definitely holds up after all these years). And it was very cool to meet John Cusack afterwards, following a very long Q&A, and get my picture taken with him — and have him sign my DVD of the movie (even though he wasn’t supposed to be doing any autographs).

May 16
Today I booked my trip to Florida for later this year, and decided to use frequent flyer miles for one leg of it, so the whole thing only cost me $125. Woo hoo! 🙂

May 15
There’s nothing bad about a free, fresh chocolate brownie cookie at Potbelly in honor of National Chocolate Chip Day.

May 14
Mom’s procedure today to shock her heart and get it beating at a regular rate worked on the first try, apparently. So that was good news.

May 13
Read a pretty funny story today about how yesterday, the San Diego Padres changed their Twitter handle to @Madres in honor of Mother’s Day, and how, when they did that, some random guy “stole” the @Padres handle. LOL

May 12
Spent this afternoon being productive, and went through my shirts, pants, and sweatshirts to see what I could get rid of. Naturally, there was plenty. Two garbage bags full of clothes — including some shirts I’d never even worn. So now I have more to donate, when I finally get round to doing that.

May 11
Felt good to get back out on the Chestnut Hill Reservoir walking/running path today, for the first time this spring, and do some laps. I love this time of year.

May 10
Made it to lunch with Ken and then back to the office, and then to the T at the end of the day, without getting rained on today. Phew! Must have been because I had my umbrella with me.

May 9
Tonight was the 45th anniversary of the night Jon Landau saw Bruce Springsteen perform in Harvard Square (for just $4!!) and called him “rock and roll future” … and over at the Harvard Coop, Barry Schneier, the only photographer who was there that night, did a meet and greet to celebrate the release of his new book of photos and recollections of that concert. Glad I went to get a book and have it signed, and hear some of Barry’s stories.

May 8
Fox released a teaser today of the original 90210 cast reuniting for their new series, and I won’t deny it: The video gave me a big smile.

May 7
The weather downtown was nice today (temps around 70 degrees!), so Melissa suggested we go grab lunch at Sam Lagrassa’s. And then she remembered she owed me from the last time we were there. So, I got to enjoy a delicious “free” lunch today (and a nice walk to get it). Mmmmmmm …

May 6
I didn’t like Detective Pikachu, but did enjoy seeing Chris Geere playing a jerky British guy in it.

May 5
At an event tonight in L.A., Bruce Springsteen shared that he’s written a new album for the E Street Band, and that there will be another tour (though the dates for both are still TBD). Woo hoo!!

May 4
Glad I saw Knock Down the House today, because it was an inspiring documentary that was actually educational and tear-jerking (in a good way), despite my knowing how it would end.

May 3
Today I learned that the Teri-Yummy food truck, which had been absent from the neighborhood around my office for over a year, is back, and will be parked at the corner of Milk and Oliver streets every Friday for the next year. Woo hoo!

May 2
It was chilly and kind of wet today, so I stopped at Trident for dinner on the way home and had some delicious Mac and cheese. Mmmmm …

May 1
Sometimes there are advantages to working where I do: Today, I spent some time browsing around our corporate discount site for hotels, rental cars, etc., and found a cool, affordable place to stay my first two nights in L.A. But then I went to the hotel’s website and found an even cheaper nightly rate. So, that’s all set. And I have a strong lead on a car for the week, too.

April 30
I was happy that tonight, after the movie, the first train that came to the station was the one I needed. No excess waiting around time for me!

April 29
So cool: Fellow Brandeis alum Adam Levin ’94 was on Jeopardy tonight, and he came $18 shy of dethroning 17-day champ James Holzhauer. Eighteen dollars! Whoa!

April 28
Finished watching Captain America: Civil War for only the second time today (I started it last night) and was reminded of just what a great movie it is.

April 27
I didn’t mind observing Passover this year, but the pasta I had for dinner tonight sure was good.

April 26
Had two work deadlines to meet today, and despite working from home, I was able to meet them both. And at a decent hour, too.

April 25
Today it was announced that Bruce Springsteen has a new album coming out on June 14, and the first single will be out at midnight tonight. Woo hoo!

April 24
It took me three days, but I finally brought something for lunch today that I liked. Next year, remind me to stick with tuna fish on salad every day, instead of gefilte fish on salad, or just salad without the fish.

April 23
Took a half day to see Avengers: Endgame today, and am so glad I did — not just because I generally liked it, but because I wanted to see it before the spoilers were everywhere.

April 22
My 5:30pm meeting today was postponed, so I was able to get home at an earlier time and make dinner. Always an important thing during Passover week.

April 21
Wrote a better draft of my Justice article tonight, and I think I’m proud of it. Lots to include — much too much for just 1,000 words. So we’ll see what stays when I reread and make some cuts tomorrow. But for now, the heavy lifting is (mostly) done. Phew!

April 20
When the smell of Manischewitz coffee cake permeates the house … that’s the best.

April 19
Thank God for Waze, which knows all the back roads, and today saved me some time in traffic by providing an alternate route to Mitzi’s house.

April 18
So, today we finally got to read the Mueller Report. I’m not sure that it really made me happy, per se, but it certainly made for a memorable day.

April 17
Wore my brand new, slim fit, 34-waist, khaki “jeans” today, and man … are they comfortable. I never thought I’d say something like that. Or be able to. But I just did. And it wasn’t the first time.

April 16
Today was the 12th anniversary of the Fenway Pizza Incident, one of the best things that’s ever happened. It’s always so much fun to revisit this video clip every year.

April 15
Worked from home today, so I was happy I could go out for a while and cheer on the runners as they went by. I love living on the marathon route.

April 14
Good speech today by Mayor Pete to formally announce his candidacy for President.

April 13
Miraculously, despite it being almost gametime at Fenway and a beautiful day and the Saturday of Marathon Weekend, I found a parking spot right on Comm Ave today, in between Blandford St. and Kenmore Square.

April 12
Paul Levenson finally got back to me today, so I was able to interview him for my Justice article. It was so cool to chat with the founder of my college newspaper, to hear his stories of those early days, and to thank him for the influence his work had on my life and career.

April 11
Now that Will & Grace‘s season has ended, the one-two punch of A.P. Bio and Brooklyn 99 may be my favorite hour of television all week. It’s definitely the funniest.

April 10
Got a chocolate chip cookie from Bruegger’s with my lunch today that was just the right amount of undercooked. Mmmmm …

April 9
Maureen and Melissa were both working from home today, and the office was practically empty, so how cool that I could watch the ring ceremony and home opener game via live-stream on my phone for most of the afternoon while I worked. Even if the Sox lost (again), that was pretty awesome.

April 8
The woman at Pret a Manger who makes good hot chocolate was back today, after two weeks off, so I had a legit, delicious hot chocolate this morning, and not a hot steamed milk with a little chocolate at the bottom, as her replacement had basically been making me.

April 7
Tonight I bought my plane tickets for a long weekend in Chicago and Michigan City this summer. Woo hoo!

April 6
Tried to buy a pair of khaki pants at Lucky Brand today, and was iffy because they only came with a 32 length and I wanted 30. But then the salesperson found a pair in a different, better fit that did come in a 30 length, online, and was able to get them for me for 50% off and free two-day shipping. Score!

April 5
Worked from home today, which meant I could sleep in an extra hour, do my laundry, and make some tuna fish for lunch — all things I can’t do when I go in to the office.

April 4
Took a small risk today and went to Bruegger’s for a turkey sandwich at lunch. And you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be. Phew.

April 3
Bummer it was the series finale, but damn, tonight’s episode of You’re the Worst was a beautifully written, bittersweet and brilliant episode that was so immensely satisfying. Can’t wait to watch it again.

April 2
My plan for tonight was to watch the first episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone reboot. So how cool was it that the first and second episodes were both available! That was a fun surprise.

April 1
Played an April Fools joke on my coworkers today: Included a fake news item in the weekly email update, about a Workday-Amazon integration, and it was just credible enough to be believable. People seemed to be amused by it, even those who were fooled. No one enjoyed it more than I did, though. Sometimes I really make myself laugh.

March 31
Glad I decided to hold off going to the movies this weekend till today, since the weather was cooler and wetter today than it was yesterday.

March 30
First above-60 degree day of 2019, and I got a lot of walking in. Felt so good.

March 29
Mayor Pete was on Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, and gave all the right answers again. This guy is really impressive.

March 28
Today I was happy I managed to get home from work early enough to have some dinner before our condo association meeting started, because, as usual, the meeting went on much longer than planned.

March 27
Who doesn’t love when the T goes express from BU Central to Harvard Ave. on the way home?

March 26
None of my shows were on tonight, so I was happy I had a movie screening to go to (Dumbo), otherwise I probably would have just watched CNN all night long, and that would have made for a bad night.

March 25
This morning, for no apparent reason, I was treated to a free croissant and hot chocolate at Pret a Manger. A treat for being a regular customer? Perhaps. But I never got an explanation. Just a “Happy Monday” wish. No complaints from me.

March 24
After a couple days of confusion and some failed attempts, I finally figured out how to get my real estate tax information from the Town of Newton website, and get that to the accountant. #ftw

March 23
A crowded afternoon at Panera today, with a lot of students loitering, so I was happy that one of them got up right when I needed him to, so I could grab his table and eat my lunch.

March 22
Robert Mueller submitted his report today, and while we don’t know what’s in it yet, I’m hopeful it’ll be bad for the President (and his family).

March 21
This Twitter thread made me laugh today. Happy Purim!

March 20
It was reported today that the aforementioned Happy Place is coming to Boston for two months, and will be opening April 5 on Boylston Street. Woo hoo!

March 19
Despite my hitting the snooze button an extra time this morning, I still managed to make it downtown in time to stop somewhere different and slightly out of the way for breakfast. It was nice to not have a croissant from Pret a Manger for a change.

March 18
Sent my tax stuff to the accountant today, so that’s one more thing off the to-do list.

March 17
Finding Purdue chicken burgers is increasingly rare, so I was happy I found them today at Stop & Shop in Dedham. Now, if I could only find Keebler Waffle Bowls …

March 16
Timed my lunch just right today, so I was able to see Gloria Bell at Coolidge Corner earlier in the day than I expected to see it at Kendall Square. And it was a great movie!

March 15
There was rain in the forecast today, so I brought my umbrella with me to the office. And then it didn’t rain. And the temperatures outside were close to 60 degrees. So it turned out to be a nice day. You’re welcome.

March 14
I forgot to move my earbuds into the jacket I wore today, so I was happy that Melissa had her adapter with her so I could use it with my old-style earbuds when I had a couple calls today.

March 13
This morning I was happy that there was no line at Grassroots Cafe when I passed by, so I could stop there and get a quick bagel.

March 12
James Corden’s pranked “Dave” Beckham, and it was really funny.

March 11
It’s always so nice, on the first Monday after we move our clocks forward, to have it still be so bright and sunny out when I leave work, and then still light out when I get home more than an hour later.

March 10
Got a call from Scott today, to tell me that he and Ilana are coming to Boston next weekend. So that was cool to hear. Definitely something to look forward to.

March 9
Took a drive out to Legacy Place today, mostly so I could listen to a podcast about the Netflix show Dating Around, and it proved not to be a wasted trip because the Amazon Books store was still selling both the Entertainment Weekly and AirBnB Magazine issues I never received in the mail and wanted to read.

March 8
Took a slight risk in scheduling my haircut for 6:00 tonight, but it all worked out because it was one of those Fridays, and Maureen and I both left the office before 5:00.

March 7
A.P. Bio came back tonight for season two, and the combo of that and Brooklyn Nine-Nine made for a very funny hour of television.

March 6
I’m happy I went to TrackMaven and Skyword’s event tonight, because I met some good people and listened to a good talk about brand storytelling. Networking FTW!

March 5
Today I was happy for my Slanket, which still keeps me warm on cold nights.

March 4
Glad it was such a quiet day in the office today, because it made leaving to see the advance press screening of Captain Marvel this afternoon that much easier, even if the movie itself was disappointing.

March 3
I’m not sure exactly how or why, but this morning, after three days and a frustrating and unhelpful call with the building management company, I woke up with the heat in my apartment working properly again. Ahhhhhhh …

March 2
Went to J.P. Licks in Coolidge Corner tonight, and was pleasantly surprised to see that they were still selling Thin Mint ice cream, even though it was one of February’s flavors of the month. So good.

March 1
After a week of late nights, it was nice to leave the office today just before 5:00 and have it still be light out.

February 28
What a nice surprise to get home from a late night of work (again), and find a random postcard from Angelica waiting for me. Who sends snail mail these days, and for no reason other than to say hi? No one. Well, no one except Angelica, that is. So, that made me smile today.

February 27
After multiple attempts, I finally scored a Chocolate Orgasm doughnut from Kane’s today, before the monthly special ended. And it was worth the wait!

February 26
Woke up this morning after the best, most consistent night of sleep I’d gotten in a couple weeks. Felt so good!

February 25
I’m happy that Comedy Central keeps showing The Other Two a couple nights early (as it did tonight) so I can watch it on a less busy night and don’t have another show to fit in to my Thursday night.

February 24
On the good side, I’m happy Free Solo won Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars tonight. And that Sanni McCandless looked so good in that red dress.

February 23
Rewatched Eighth Grade and most of Three Identical Strangers tonight. Such good movies.

February 22
Tonight I was actually happy we didn’t go out for #NationalMargaritaDay after work, so I could go home and have what I wanted for dinner.

February 21
Sometimes it’s the little things, like when, at the end of the day, you get to top of Summer Street, and the walk signal to cross over to Park Street station is in your favor, so you don’t have to stand there in the cold and wait for it to turn green.

February 20
A free large hot chocolate from Pret a Manger is better than no hot chocolate from Pret a Manger.

February 19
After not sleeping much yesterday, I was happy to wake up this morning. Which means, I did sleep.

February 18
Fun to catch up tonight with Howard and reminisce about our good ole days on The Justice, then to take on an assignment for the special reunion issue he’s pulling together with some other alumni folk. So cool to have the band back together!

February 17
Actually had a productive afternoon today doing a little work, so hopefully that will make tomorrow morning a bit easier.

February 16
Not that I needed anything, but … today I made a successful shopping trip to Natick, including scoring some good sale deals on two sweaters at Roots, plus a free day-pack as part of a promotion the store honored maybe a week early (because of some confusion with emails). I also found a cool Patriots Super Bowl hoodie (alas, not on sale) at Roster, and took advantage of a buy one magazine, get one 50% off deal at Barnes & Noble.

February 15
I was running late this morning, so I was happy and pleasantly surprised that there was no traffic on the way to the airport, despite it being rush hour, and despite it being San Francisco, which had awful traffic in the city all week long.

February 14
Thank God for pre-sales, and the fact that I had a break in my conference schedule today at just the right time, so I could snag some tickets to Zac Brown Band’s show this summer at Fenway Park before they went on sale to the general public tomorrow. Field seats, too! Woo hoo!

February 13
After a very wet and windy day, it was nice to have dinner and catch up with Amy Marcott. It was also fun to randomly bump into Boris Pluskowski this afternoon, and possibly arrange a meetup with Jessica for tomorrow. (For the record, it was not fun to slip and fall, and hurt my tailbone, this afternoon.)

February 12
Because I was polite about it, I was able to snag an umbrella from the Weather Channel booth at THINK tonight, which I thought was a pretty cool (and very meta) piece of swag. Almost as cool was the pair of socks I got with Marty on them; apparently, that’s the name of the mascot for a company called Recorded Future.

February 11
‘Twas a beautiful day in San Francisco today, so I walked 13 miles (according to my iPhone). From my hotel over by AT&T/Oracle Park, all the way down along the water to the Golden Gate. But the best thing was probably that I arrived at the Palace of the Fine Arts at exactly the right time, and that allowed me to take some fantastic photos.

February 10
After what happened to me on the way to Florida in November, I was happy that the woman sitting next to me on the plane en route from Charlotte to San Francisco today didn’t spill either of her drink(s) on me.

February 9
Drove down to Patriot Place today, and was able to get into the Hall of Fame to see and take a photo with the new Super Bowl trophy (and other things, too).

February 8
Today, Chris was offered one of the jobs that I recently turned down (that I recommended him for). Really happy it worked out for him.

February 7
Had an 8:00 a.m. conference call, so I took that at home and went into the office a little bit later today.

February 6
I’ve gotten into a sort-of-habit of listening to music on my way home from work. Tonight’s Zac Brown Band playlist was much appreciated, and made the trip go by faster.

February 5
Another fun championship parade today, and I managed to get pretty close to the barrier and the Duck Boats so I could snap some pretty decent photos of the Patriots as they went by.

February 4
Today was February 4, but it felt more like April 4. So nice walking around today and tonight.

February 3
Patriots are Super Bowl Champions! Again! And the parade is on Tuesday, when the temperatures are predicted to be in the 50s! Woo hoo!!!

February 2
Before noon today, I had gotten a haircut in Coolidge Corner and dropped off my old kitchen-table chairs at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Store in Dedham. That’s more than I’ve done before lunch on a Saturday in a very very long time.

February 1
Set up my brand new work MacBook today. (Most of it, anyway.) Very happy that I can use it now, instead of my PC laptop.

January 31
Worked from home today, which meant I could drive to my dentist appointment this morning and be early for a change, instead of taking an Uber or Lyft and getting there a smidge late, as I usually do.

January 30
When I left the office tonight, it was clear and cold. And sometime between when I got on the T and when I got home, it started snowing quite heavily. So I was happy I didn’t have to deal with that squall when I was walking from my office to the T.

January 29
Stopped into Tradesman today to see if maybe I would pick up one of their signature croissants for a post-lunch dessert. After trying a small piece of the birthday cake one (yum!), I was still unsure if I’d get anything. And if so, which one. Then the guy behind the counter said if I get one, he’ll give me a second one for free. Who can resist that?? So I got a red velvet and a “double chocolate,” with the full intention of sharing with Maureen and Melissa, et al. And these were delicious — even if the “double chocolate” one didn’t, in fact, have chocolate filling inside.

January 28
At the risk of jinxing it (whoops!), I just want to say that today, I’m happy I’m in a comfortable place professionally, and can walk away from a job opportunity if it’s not right. Which is something I did this afternoon, again, for the second time this month. But I’m happy there’s been some encouraging movement on this front lately, after too many months of nothing.

January 27
Black Panther won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble tonight — a very cool surprise.

January 26
Today was a very productive day: I bought a storage tub and a shelving unit at Target, then proceeded to bring all of my CDs down to my basement storage unit. I also moved my old kitchen-table chairs to my car, so I can donate them next weekend. And I rearranged the stuff in that storage unit, so I have a middle aisle to walk down without having to take stuff out first. Then I cleaned up my DVDs and Blu-ray discs, so they’re not haphazardly piled up. More work to do on this project tomorrow, but suffice it to say, my apartment and storage unit are a bit less cluttered now.

January 25
Learned today that Maureen will be working from home on Monday, and I need to do that, too, so this news made my day a bit easier.

January 24
The entire marketing squad was in Boston today (even Patrika). It was the first time we have all been together, ever, and it was really fun. So was dinner. Yum!

January 23
Today, Maureen asked me for restaurant suggestions in the North End for our team dinner tomorrow night, and she actually liked my idea (for a change)! So now we’re going to Al Dente, and I can. not. wait. Mmmmmm …

January 22
A mixed bag of Oscar nominations today, but I was happy that Free Solo was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, and that Black Panther was nominated for seven awards, including Best Picture.

January 21
Today I was so happy to see that the GoFundMe campaign for Maryann Rolle, the caterer who appears in Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary, exceeded its goal. She was taken advantage of by the event organizers, and it was nice to see people rally to support her.

January 20
It was a very close, very stressful game, but WOO HOO!! the Patriots beat the Chiefs in the AFC Championship game 37-31 and now they’re going back to the Super Bowl (vs the Rams)! WOO HOO!!

January 19
Decided to go to Cafe Fresh Bagels for lunch today, for a change, and lucky me: I got there at the perfect time, because there was a table and no line. And, like, 10 minutes after I walked in, the place got much more crowded.

January 18
I consider it a successful Friday night when I don’t have Comella’s for dinner, because I have it so many other Friday nights.

January 17
A Million Little Things returned tonight, which is a very good thing, even if it means three of my favorite shows (Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place) are now all on at the same time. Just makes for a very good night of TV.

January 16
The heat in my condo wasn’t working so well when I went to bed last night, so I was happy that it was warm when I woke up this morning, and that it was even warmer when I got home from work tonight.

January 15
Multiple people were either working from home or traveling today, so I decided to hit the snooze button an extra time and then stop for a decent breakfast, and I still made it in to the office at basically the same time I get there every other day.

January 14
Honestly, today I’m happy, and relieved, that the saga of the job I didn’t really want and the recruiter and company that really wanted me is finally now over. Even if it should have ended four days ago.

January 13
Went to Johnny’s today for breakfast specifically for the Churro French Toast special … only to find that it was no longer on the menu! Thankfully, the waitress volunteered to ask if they could still make it, and sure enough, they could. And it was amazing. So delicious. Oh, and also … this.

January 12
After nearly 10 years of it just sitting in my storage unit, taking up space, today I finally got rid of my old 30-something-inch CRT TV. And in the process, I also got the big bin of old stuff out of my car after what was more than a year of it being there. The year of getting rid of stuff and getting organized has begun!

January 11
I don’t want the job, but it was nice to get a hard sell today from a recruiter and her two bosses telling me I’d really impressed their client company in my two rounds of interviews, and that this company was going to make me an offer, and wanted to chat with me again to respond to my concerns and change my mind about walking away. A bit over the top, and also a little bit frustrating, but it was definitely flattering.

January 10
The 2018 Year in Review photo book that I made on Shutterfly arrived today (two days early), and it’s awesome. Really happy with how this one came out. It’s a great, colorful recap of what was a busy and fun year.

January 9
You’re the Worst came back tonight after more than a year’s absence. It was worth the wait.

January 8
Thankful for our office snack and beverage vendor, who proactively brought us hot chocolate K-cups in his weekly delivery today.

January 7
Tonight for dinner, I made one of Wegmans’ from-the-freezer Terriyaki Salmon dishes. Easy peasy, and tasty too. Happy to have another option for dinner that I don’t have to plan for in advance.

January 6
Today, Rachel posted a video on Instagram of Eden belting out “Part of Your World” to her baby brother, and holy crap, was that funny. Can’t tell you how many times I watched it, but it always made me smile.

January 5
Today I was happy that the episodes of Homecoming are each only about a half hour long, because it allowed me to (finally) watch all of season one in one day.

January 4
It’s always nice when your B-line train goes express from BU East to Harvard Ave on the Friday evening commute home.

January 3
Today, I was grateful for the Tree to Grow Lone Bellow fan community on Facebook, through which I recently (finally) learned that the Live at Grimey’s vinyl-only release that came out for Record Store Day last April comes with a free digital copy. I bought it via Amazon over the weekend, and my album was waiting for me when I got home from work tonight. Worth it.

January 2
Found out today that my work trip to San Francisco next month has been approved, so now I’m excited to go back to the City by the Bay for the first time in 20 years.

January 1
So glad I got over to the Back Bay yesterday to see the First Night ice sculptures, because, between the rain last night and the unseasonably warm temps in the mid-50s today, they were surely melted by the time I would have gotten over there today.

9 Responses to “The 2019 Happiness Project”

  1. Craig DesBrisay (@craigthusiast) January 2, 2019 at 10:11 am #

    Great post, Martin! I like your happiness project and it’s inspiring me to get back into doing my daily gratitude journal. As an aside, another way that I’ve improved my happiness is remembering that, “I’m at my happiest when I’m making progress toward my goals.” So, for me, clearly knowing what my goals are in life, career, fitness, family, friends, etc. is helpful. Then taking action consistently and reflecting occasionally on my progress is how I endeavour to close the loop.

    • Martin Lieberman January 2, 2019 at 10:17 am #

      Thanks, Craig! And thanks for the suggestion re: goals. One thing I definitely need to do is firm up some goals beyond the vague ones I have right now. Incremental success always leads to a continued pursuit … and increased happiness as well. But I’ll never accomplish anything unless there are checkpoints along the way. 🙂

  2. joshmccormack January 2, 2019 at 10:13 am #

    Great recommendation and personal experience in making an effort to notice and appreciate the good things in life. Most of us lead a life without reflection, one where evidence contradicts our view on it.

    • Martin Lieberman January 2, 2019 at 10:14 am #

      It’s a long-tail investment that always pays off. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  3. Dr Andrew Albert January 25, 2019 at 8:56 pm #

    I need to take on this happiness project. Such a great concept. Gabriel and Taliah hope they get two more trips to Chicago this summer as well. Love these posts Martin!

    • Martin Lieberman January 26, 2019 at 11:52 am #

      It is legit helpful in a world where there is so much negativity swirling around us to remember that there are things large and small that bring us happiness every day. And I hope to see you all soon, too! Probably once in Chicago this summer and once in Boston. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Happiness Project 2019 • Terra's Bytes - January 3, 2019

    […] colorful play space where you can “immerse yourself in happiness” for a few minutes. As Martin notes in his post, happiness is fleeting and the harder you look for it, the less likely you are to find it – […]

  2. I May Be 45 Years Old, But I Intend to Hold on to My Youth for at Least Another Year | Martin's Musings - June 7, 2019

    […] In addition, I still try to have fun and cram in as many things as I can when I travel (because I can), even if it’s a work trip. And in spite of everything that’s going on in the world right now, I can still look at the bright side and maintain a positive attitude. […]

  3. A Souvenir of My Year So Far, Before the Memories Fade Away | Martin's Musings - July 1, 2019

    […] I can be forgetful that I feel compelled to document so much of what has transpired, via photos, my Happiness Project, favorited tweets, an annual “yearbook,” and other methods. Then I have a record of […]

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