I have an entire list in the Notes app on my phone that names things that make me happy. It numbers in the hundreds. Sometimes, when I used to hit the point of “I need a tattoo” to appease the mental breakdown gods, I would pull out that list to determine what that tattoo would be.
It’s how I ended up with a rose and lollipops. It’s how I ended up with a Ferris wheel and fireworks. It’s how I ended up with (the design concept of) a little girl holding a bouquet of balloons.
The things that make me happy are things that can make me smile. They give me a poke to my emotions that will help cheer me up, even temporarily. They are things. They are people. They are places. They are activities. They are specifics and generalities.
Here are a few odd ones:
- Hardware stores
- Purple bag skittles
- Watermelon on a hot day
- Dreaming of restoring/remodeling an old house
- Big burly men wrapped around the fingers of adorable little girls
The video of Stephen Fry narrating something he wrote about language, animated with kinetic typography (language as a generality is another item on my list), is one of my favorite things on YouTube. I can turn on this video and it will transport me to a place in my head that lets go and allows me to just FEEL.
Due to my mental health, happiness had always been something I had trouble trusting. Was I really happy? Or was I just under the effects of a manic or hypomanic episode that had everything I experienced lifted to extreme heights? My brain goes into a spiral of doubt and disbelief.
I still struggle with this. And that’s why I put together my list. I can trust lists when I have trouble trusting my brain. A list is order created out of chaos.
I like to read my list of the things that make me happy (or use them to give me a direction toward those feelings of happiness) whenever I need to be reminded that happiness exists. Whenever I need to be reminded that what I feel is real.
Happiness may sometimes only exist in a flash of a moment. But it was there. And there will always be those moments to look back on. And there will be many more moments in the future.