The 2021 Happiness Project

4 Jan
2021 ice sculpture

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. 

Eating a slice of good chocolate cake or a warm chocolate chip cookie. Hearing a catchy pop tune. Receiving a phone call from a friend. Enjoying warm weather in the middle of the winter. Experiencing good customer service. All of these are simple pleasures that make me a smile.

Some people think happiness is something you have to seek out, or that it results from big events. Those people need to stop and appreciate the little things more often.

That’s the gist, essentially, of my annual Happiness Project. Part online diary, part gratitude journal, and part mindfulness exercise, my Happiness Project is where I document something every day that made me happy. And it’s really just that simple: At the end of every day, I write down one thing that made me feel good, whether it was something I did, something I ate, something somebody said, a TV show I watched or movie I saw, a tweet, or something else. It doesn’t have to be something big or important; just something that made me smile. (And yes, the name is a nod to Gretchen Rubin’s “Happiness Project,” which started as an experiment and became a best-selling book, before becoming a broader movement.)

Documenting a “happy thing” every day — and doing it publicly — helps to promote the idea that no day is all bad. It also helps with self-care.

I did my first Happiness Project in 2015, and I’ve repeated the exercise every year since 2017. (For some reason, I took 2016 off.) So, what follows below is my sixth Happiness Project. (Wow!)

I’m hopeful that 2021 will be a good year — or, at the very least, that it will be a better year than 2020 was. Who knows what will actually happen over these 12 months, especially given the pandemic and political discord we’re all living through as I write this intro in January. But if you read through this blog post (from the bottom to the top), you’ll probably walk away with the impression that I’m having a good year, anyway, in spite of any challenges or bad events happening around me. 

That would make me happy, too.

And with that all said … Here’s what made me happy every day this year.

January 21

January 20
What can I say about today? It was just a great day. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as President and Vice President, it was a beautiful day weather-wise, and everything went smoothly without disruption, and the former Prez and his family left town before I’d even begun my day and they were basically an afterthought, and it all was just so great, so life affirming, so positive, so optimistic, so intoxicating. Let’s hope this high lasts for the next four years.

January 19
Hated to do it to him (again), but I got a big kick today out of giving Marc a hard time about his birthday gift using GIFs via text message, and having him do the same right back to me. It may have been cruel, but it was fun.

January 18
Today I was happy that the webcam I bought over the weekend worked well, so I don’t have to buy a different one.

January 17
Coincidentally, Andreina and I went out to dump our trash at the same time tonight. It was good to catch up and chat, and spend more time outside than planned.

January 16
When I ordered my dinner tonight, I was told it would be ready in 20–25 minutes. So I was happy when I walked in after only 10 minutes and it had just come out, so I could take it home before it just sat on the counter there, getting cold.

January 15
Today I received my last freelance payment and my first new-job paycheck, so it was a good day for my bank account.

January 14
After a couple days of procrastination, which led to later working hours, today I finished my work for the day around 6pm, so I could enjoy more of my evening.

January 13
It was nice to catch up with Jim tonight, even if it took me way too long to call him, and a fatal diagnosis for me to do it. Glad to hear he’s in good spirits, all things considered.

January 12
I was happy I had a dentist appointment this afternoon, if only because it gave me a chance to listen to some of the Matty in the Morning 40th anniversary show from this morning.

January 11
I opened up my package of “Brookie-O” Oreos tonight, and no surprise, they were yummy. Good flavor.

January 10
Today I was thankful I ordered ahead from NY Bagel Factory before I drove out to Natick, because I was able to get what I wanted and it wasn’t a waste of a trip.

January 9
Glad I decided to watch the first episode of Pretend It’s a City on Netflix tonight, because it was great. I’m also glad it’s a series, and not a special, because it means there’s more to watch in the (near) future.

January 8
This morning when I woke up, I’d slept through the night uninterrupted for the first time in three or four weeks. So I was well rested, for a change, and feeling good.

January 7
Four years ago today, I was hanging out with friends and having a good time in Austin, Texas. Memories of that trip made me happy today.

January 6
I was so happy to wake up today and learn that Raphael Warnock had won his election in Georgia, and then to hear in mid-afternoon that the same was true of Jon Ossoff. Woo hoo!!

January 5
Heard some news today about the other company I was interviewing with last month, and that made me even happier with my decision than I already was. Everything definitely worked out for the best.

January 4
My work laptop arrived this morning, on the first day of my new job, which meant I could set it up and didn’t have to put work stuff on my personal laptop.

January 3
I was happy to wake up this morning to the news that mom and dad secured an appointment to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and will be getting it on Tuesday. Phew!

January 2
I kind of did it as a goof, but the flannel onesie I bought to hang out in at home arrived this morning. Tonight I had zero regrets; it’s super warm and comfy. And not as unattractive as I thought it’d be.

January 1
After weeks of waffling, I finally bought myself a new printer today. And thank you to the salesguy at Staples, who suggested I buy a laser printer instead of an inkjet one. That was smart.

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