Sometimes, I think that I focus too much on the big things that I expect to make me happy. I want to get into a good grad school. I want to travel the world. I want to make enough money so that I don’t have to eat ramen noodles and/or feed them to my children.
But I know that this type of in-the-future happiness doesn’t let me live in the present. I miss the things that I could be focusing on now—the little things like my roommate finishing the dishes or my favorite author’s new book on bookstore shelves. Living for the future puts us in a mindset that only lets us strive for happiness, rather than to achieve it. I know because I lived—and often still live—my life this way.
So I’ve decided to make a list of simple pleasures. These are the things that will always be there, no matter the decisions that I make or the curves that life throws at me. Consistency, sometimes, can mean happiness:
New books. Even though I never get to the new books I buy until months and months after I’ve bought them, the world seems a little bit shinier with a couple of new tomes in your bag.
Organized book shelves. Ditto to organized bookshelves. I’ve arranged my books alphabetically, in shelves based on if I’ve read them or not, and, most recently—and perhaps neurotically—by time period. Organization is great, but organizing bookshelves is the most fun because you get to remember the books that you forgot.
Phone calls with old friends. I’m a terrible old friend. I think of the friends that don’t live near me and I know that I should call and write them, but I don’t. All that thinking accumulates and when I do get around to calling them—or they call me—it makes the phone call that much more rewarding.
Sun after a cloudy morning. I always expect that when a morning starts out cloudy, the rest of the day will turn out to be cloudy, too. When this doesn’t happen, it’s a reason for celebration and a reason for a change of plans.
Amy Tan and Sarah Waters. I find myself doing a lot of difficult reading where I have to slog through the pages and give myself an amount of time I’ve got left to read. Not with these two authors. No matter what book of theirs I read, I can’t put it down. It’s always rarer than I think to find real page turners, but these two never disappoint.