Since I am on a mission to relax and bring more positive energy into my life, I’ve been thinking a lot about things that bring me joy. A lot of times, the things that make me happiest are simple little things that I find relaxing or that just make me smile. It does not have to be something very complicated or exotic or expensive. There can be pleasure in simplicity.
So I have compiled a list of seven things that bring some sort of positive energy into my life. Sometimes they are calming things, other times they are things that make me laugh. But all of them leave me feeling good, happy, and with a positive feeling of well being.
- Freshly laundered sheets. There is nothing better, I think, than crawling into bed made with freshly laundered sheets. The crisp, cool sheets, the clean smells of fabric softener or bleach — there’s something luxurious about sliding into a bed made with clean sheets and settling in with a good book. And if they’ve been ironed? Hold me! I am in heaven.
- Really high-quality chocolate. It only takes a couple of squares of very good chocolate to improve one’s mood. We’re not talking cheap, waxy chocolate that most North American manufacturers make. Oh no. I’m thinking about chocolate where the first ingredient listed is cocoa. Where there’s a really high percentage of cocoa in the mix. Possibly even Dutch cocoa, which I am told is the best cocoa you can buy. This chocolate usually comes from the Netherlands, or Belgium, or any of those European countries where chocolate is approaching an art form for those of us raised on KitKat bars. (Not that a KitKat won’t do in a pinch, you understand.)
- Clean, uncluttered rooms. It happens so infrequently. Everyday life intrudes and a clean, clutter-free environment is almost impossible to maintain. But sometimes, when you have everything in its appointed place, and it’s all tidied up and vaccuumed and scrubbed — having a few moments to sit in the quiet of a clean space is bliss.
- The secret life of animals. This is something BDH and I have found fun in for as long as I can remember. I think it started from reading too much of The Far Side. But whenever we see animals, we can’t resist giving voice to what they are thinking or doing. Driving by a field full of cows and one donkey, suddenly the donkey takes on a supervisory role: “Alright, now, ladies… aaaaaaand… GRAZE! Excellent.” We see our favourite old man walking his dog, Small Auxiliary Backup Dog: “C’mere dog.” “Hmmmm. I don’t think so.” “I said c’mere!” “And yet? Laying down.” Also, it may have a lot to do with the fact that we live with cats. We just KNOW they’ve got more going on than napping all day. I’ve long suspected online shopping, myself.
- A new newspaper or magazine. I like to be the first one to read a paper, while the folds are still crisp and even. The same thing with a magazine — the static as you open pages, stretching the spine open. It’s uncharted territory. When I was single, I would luxuriate over a Saturday paper for hours, with a big pot of coffee, savouring each story and taking my sweet time. Nowadays, it’s my National Geographic magazine that I save for bedtime reading. It can take a week of evenings to get through. First, I go through and look at the pictures. Then, I read stories of interest. Then, I read whatever is left. Woe betide someone who reads my magazine before I do.
- Dance parties. Dance parties are spontaneous. They usually happen when you are the only adult around. Often they involve kids or pets. You put on some music, and you dance around like crazy people and sing, loudly and often badly. When I was a kid, having a teenaged sister meant dancing around and singing Beatles songs, and using your leg as a guitar. When I was a bit older, it was dancing and marching around and singing “I Am Superman” with my niece. Nowadays, one of my cats has a particular love of “San Francisco Bay Blues” by Eric Clapton. No matter. It’s all good. Pure, uncensored, uninhibited joy.
- Watching the first snowfall. Don’t get me wrong. I hate snow. But in that first snowfall, when the world is quiet and you can sit at your window with a mug of tea, a blanket on your lap and a cat or two cuddling beside you, there is a certain peace. I don’t mean those initial windy flurries that come in the fall, that are sort of half-rain and don’t stay. But I am thinking more when the big, fluffy flakes begin to fall, and suddenly even the most unattractive places can take on a certain charm. People are often transformed into somewhat more festive, more pleasant versions of themselves by the first snow.
So that’s my list. I know it’s not the definitive list, so please feel free to add whatever you find brings you simple joy. Also, I am sure there are some you would dispute. That’s fine too. I guess the point is, we all need to remind ourselves what we can do or the things we have, on a very basic level, that make us happy. Everyone needs a little pick-me-up every now and again.