The Little Things That Make You Happy

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you make look back and realize they were the big things.”

~Robert Brault

I’m a big Calvin and Hobbes fan, and I think Bill Waterson–the man who brought to life the ADHD kid and his stuffed tiger–is a freaking genius. I’ve read every strip and collection I could get my hands on, and I think that everyone else should read it too since it reminds us to indulge our inner child once in a while and be more like Calvin, a little kid content to play with his stuffed tiger all afternoon because that’s what makes him happy. Can we say the same thing about how we go about our lives?

Life is in the details. Your whole existence shouldn’t revolve around the goal you’ve set for yourself somewhere in the distant future. As another author opined, “small gestures can mean so much more than one grand display of love. Simple pleasures throughout the day can be far more gratifying than one amazing weekend. When you connect the dots between all these little joys, life seems fuller and more satisfying.”

With this in mind, I asked the people around me what made them happy–and not the grand things like giving birth or world peace, but the small things like seeing a dog play with a ball or a kid running around without a care in the world. Below are just some of the answers I got. And yes, there are a lot since I couldn’t possibly filter what makes other people (and, perhaps, you) happy. If you have anything to add, don’t hesitate to put it in the comments or contact me here.

Here we go.

  • When someone kisses you right after they brushed their teeth.
  • When a random cat you meowed at meows back at you.
  • Pens that make your handwriting look better.
  • Catching up on social media.
  • Getting a text from someone you actually wanted to get a text from.
  • Payday.
  • Kid’s laughter.
  • That feeling you get when you drink a cup of warm liquid and you can feel the warmth spread all over your body.
  • Seeing old couples being sweet and knowing that love can really last.
  • Parking your car perfectly on the first try.
  • The feeling you get after a good cry.
  • French fries that are not too soggy but not too toasted either—just perfect.
  • Soda in glass bottles.
  • Reaching your target body weight.
  • When you hold a door open for someone and they actually say thank you.
  • The smile you get from that stranger on the bus or train when you give them your seat.
  • Hearing the voice of someone you’ve missed.
  • When your loved one cooks for you.
  • The first bite of your favorite food.
  • Or, alternatively, finally getting to eat that dish you’ve been craving for days. 
  • Waking up before the alarm and realizing you still have time to sleep.
  • Watching someone open a gift you know they’ll love.
  • Seeing the delight in their eyes once they actually open the gift and see what’s inside.
  • A day devoted to pampering yourself.
  • Creating a perfect swirl with a do-it-yourself yogurt machine.
  • Watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show.
  • Rain, but only when you don’t have to go out.
  • Finding something new to add to your collection.
  • When your friends come to an event you organized or an event you’re in.
  • Finding money you didn’t know you had.
  • When you arrive at a place just in time.
  • Having ice cream on a hot day.
  • Winning a bet.
  • That amazing smell that baking leaves behind.
  • A genuine smile.
  • Watching a movie again and noticing things you didn’t realize before.
  • Finally finishing something you’ve been working on for a long time.
  • Seeing a made bed.
  • Getting a high score on an app.
  • Sitting down to read the news.
  • A good cup of coffee.
  • Buying yourself stuff.
  • Eating a good lunch.
  • Meeting someone with the same tastes as you.
  • Sleeping on your own bed after a vacation.
  • When the song ends just as you’re pulling into the driveway.
  • Witnessing a child’s firsts.
  • Getting the bigger half.
  • The way street lights shine on wet pavement on rainy nights.
  • Handmade gifts.
  • Late-night conversations.
  • Goodnight texts.
  • Rediscovering old music.
  • Long weekends.
  • When someone tells you that you smell good.
  • Movie nights.
  • Getting to a new place without getting lost.
  • When people laugh at your jokes.
  • Packing for a vacation.
  • Looking at childhood pictures.
  • The smell of shampooed hair, especially when it’s your girlfriend/boyfriend.
  • The smell of dust after the rain. New word: petrichor.
  • Memories that can make you laugh years later.
  • Having such a good time with someone that you lose track of time.
  • The glow that’s left after a passionate kiss.
  • When the room you’re in has a window with an amazing view.
  • A smile from across the room.
  • When everyone in the car starts singing along to the song that’s playing.
  • Hot soup on a cold day.
  • Surprise visits.
  • That feeling after you clean your room and think, “There so much more room for activities!”
  • Making new friends.
  • When classes get cancelled.
  • A goodnight kiss.
  • When the foam that forms while you’re pouring soda gets right up to the top but doesn’t spill over.
  • A good book on a rainy day.
  • When the milk is almost gone but there’s just enough left for your cereal.
  • When someone tells you they like the sound of your laugh.
  • The smell of freshly-baked goodies.
  • When you actually like your haircut.
  • When you finally get that packaged you ordered.
  • Falling asleep on the couch and waking up in your bed.
  • A full moon.
  • Shaving with a new (and really sharp) razor.
  • Decorating the Christmas tree.
  • Warm water on cold hands.
  • Watching puppies play.
  • Making someone laugh after they’ve been crying.
  • Inscriptions written inside old books.
  • Sweater weather.
  • Thinking that the really good book your reading is over, then realizing there’s an epilogue.
  • Cracking glow sticks.
  • People-watching.
  • When the teacher uses your work as a good example.
  • A good back crack.
  • Reviewing your answers right before submitting an exam and catching a mistake.
  • Showering after getting really dirty.
  • When a little kid holds your hand.
  • That first gulp of air after coming up from underwater.
  • Going to bed knowing you can sleep as long as you want.
  • When a friend goes out of their way to help you.
  • Catching your crush stealing glances at you.
  • When the sun comes out from behind the clouds.
  • Rainy days in bed.
  • Typing really fast and making no mistakes.
  • The pop sound when you twist open a lid.
  • Unexpected hugs.
  • When someone pays you back the money you forgot they owed you.
  • Getting into a warm car when it’s cold outside.
  • Successful last-minute plans.
  • When you’re able to open a bottle cap when no one else can.
  • When a person hugs back, tighter.
  • When you find out that someone likes you.
  • Baby clothing ensembles.
  • The aroma of roasted coffee beans.
  • Sniffing that cup of coffee beans while at the perfume store.
  • The moment you rest your feet after a long and tiring walk.
  • Breakfast in bed.
  • Cuddling in bed in the morning or when it’s raining outside.
  • An outdoor lunch.
  • An embrace that lasts a little bit longer than usual.
  • The moment after the rain stops.
  • A beautiful sunset or sunrise.
  • Realizing you have fewer things to do than you thought.
  • When someone remembers the small details about you.
  • Getting the window seat on a plane ride.
  • When you finally remember where you recognize a person from.
  • When someone’s face lights up when they see you.
  • Waking up and remembering the good things that happened the day before.
  • Getting a good score on a test you studied really hard for.
  • Watching kids be amused by the simplest things.
  • A deep stretch.
  • A smell that triggers a good memory.
  • An itch you can really reach.
  • A new recipe that comes out perfectly.
  • The feeling of sand between your toes.
  • Finding a shortcut.
  • Realizing you’re not the only one.
  • Reaching the word count on a paper.
  • Waking up thinking it’s a weekday but then realizing that it’s actually the weekend.
  • Discovering that something is actually within your price range.
  • When you didn’t do your homework and the teacher doesn’t collect it.
  • Night swimming.
  • Holding a baby.
  • Morning dew on grass.
  • Finally getting your braces off.
  • A great shoe sale.
  • Wiping someone’s tears away.
  • When your pet rests their head on you.
  • Recognition for hard work.
  • When someone uses a photo you took as their profile picture.
  • When people say they like your handwriting.
  • Seeing your friends again after summer vacation.
  • Free WiFi.
  • Being the first to know.
  • Getting lost in a book.
  • Beating a personal record.
  • When the clothes you bought online fit perfectly.
  • When someone knows your “usual”.
  • When people come to you for advice.
  • When you laugh so hard no noise come out and you just start clapping like a retarded seal.
  • Wearing new underwear.
  • Teaching someone a new skill and watching their face light up when they get it.
  • Finally finding the edge of a roll of tape.
  • Discovering that someone still has a gift you gave them a long time ago.
  • Classic Disney movies.
  • Fuzzy socks.
  • Friendly cashiers.
  • A clean public bathroom.
  • Opening a brand new book.
  • Finally being able to understand something.
  • Being the only one to know a secret.
  • Long road trips at night.
  • Your favorite song on replay.
  • Cute sneezes.
  • Thick, soft bath towels.
  • Sleeping on freshly-washed sheets.
  • Looking through school work from when you were young.
  • Waking up with perfect hair.
  • Putting in the last piece of a puzzle.
  • Driving on an empty road.
  • Hitting green lights all the way.
  • When a baby holds your finger.
  • Hugs from behind.
  • Talking about the ‘good old days’ with friends.
  • Getting a great score on a test you didn’t study for.
  • Looking at water droplets travel across your car window.
  • Playground swings.
  • Making a baby laugh.
  • Kept promises.
  • Taking the first scoop out of a brand new jar of peanut butter.
  • Inside jokes.
  • The smell of freshly-cut grass.
  • Popping bubble wrap.
  • Dimples.
  • Silence that isn’t awkward.
  • Finally going to the bathroom after needing to go for a really long time.
  • Finding something you lost a long time ago.
  • Singing in the shower.
  • The freedom that comes from being home alone.
  • Writing/drawing on foggy windows.
  • Hearing that you were in someone’s dream.
  • Magazine perfume samples.
  • When a little kids draws you a picture.
  • The moment you realize your period is over.
  • Knowing all the lines to your favorite movie.
  • Taking your bra off at the end of the day.
  • Correct grammar.
  • An eraser that actually erases pencil marks and doesn’t just smudge.
  • Getting the perfect parking spot.
  • The first bite into a crisp apple.
  • Random acts of kindness.
  • Drinking cold water when you’re really thirsty.
  • When you finally remember the name of that song that’s been stuck in your head.
  • Crunchy, seedless grapes.
  • Waking up and actually remembering your dream.
  • Getting dismissed on the last day of school.
  • The sound of a perfect high-five.
  • Proving an annoying person wrong.
  • Old home videos.
  • Fresh air.
  • The new car smell.
  • When your parents say ‘yes’ when you were expecting a ‘no’.
  • Looking at old yearbook photos and autographs.
  • Free stuff.
  • When the butter melts on your toast.
  • Cheesy pick-up lines.
  • Guitar solos.
  • Instant friendships.
  • Peeling off dried glue.
  • Uncontrollable smiles.
  • Spontaneous adventures.
  • The feel of freshly-shaved skin.
  • The first flavorful chews on a new piece of gum.
  • People who smell good.
  • Taking off high heels at the end of the day.
  • Driving on a smooth road.
  • Teachers you can joke with.
  • Licking the yogurt lid.
  • Midnight snacks.
  • Contagious laughter.
  • A full tank of gas.
  • When someone plays with your hair.
  • Overhearing someone say nice things about you.
  • When someone holds the door open for you.
  • Bendy straws.
  • Writing on the first page of a notebook.
  • Smiling in the middle of a kiss.
  • Writing with a freshly-sharpened pencil.
  • The feeling you get after a good workout.
  • Flipping to the right page of a book on the first try.
  • When the lights start to dim before a movie begins.
  • Walking barefoot on grass.
  • Stapling a finished essay together.
  • Your pet’s excitement when you come home.
  • The smell of old books.
  • Perfectly peeling off a price sticker.
  • When people take care of you when you’re sick.
  • When you catch something that was thrown to you from far away.
  • When you perfectly separate an Oreo.
  • When you get a pop culture reference.
  • When questions on a test give away answers to other questions.
  • Getting your hair washed at the salon.
  • Being told you’ve made someone’s day.
  • The brief moment of silence when you drive beneath an overpass on a rainy day.
  • Not wearing makeup and being able to rub your eyes.
  • When someone texts back immediately.
  • Realizing your hiccups are gone.
  • Flipping to a new month on your calendar.
  • Accomplishing something before the microwave beeps.
  • Rereading old conversations.
  • Catching something before it hits the ground.
  • When you see your food coming in a restaurant.
  • Turning on the TV just in time.
  • Rapping an entire part of a song perfectly.
  • When someone puts a blanket over you while you sleep.
  • When someone saves you a seat.
  • When a deadline is extended.
  • When you finally remember the word you had on the tip of your tongue.
  • Feeling confident when turning in an exam.
  • The warmth of printed paper.
  • Having exact change.
  • Seeing the street lights turn on/off.
  • The look on the groom’s face as he watches his bride walk down the aisle on their big day.
  • Walking into an air-conditioned building after being outside in the heat.
  • The sound of the ocean.
  • When you finally see the car that’s coming to pick you up.
  • When scissors glide across wrapping paper.
  • The look and feel of freshly-vacuumed carpet.
  • Finding out that you’re having your favorite meal for dinner.
  • Getting in line just before it gets long.
  • When a stranger helps you pick up something your dropped. Or being that stranger.
  • When the DJ plays the song you requested.
  • When the vending machine finally accepts your money.
  • Accelerating after being in a traffic jam.
  • A full pantry/fridge after grocery shopping.
  • The feeling after watching a really good movie.
  • Using a new bar of soap.
  • Jumping into a pool on a hot day.
  • Getting a hug from a little kid.
  • The sound of soda being poured into a glass of ice.
  • Using a new tube of toothpaste.
  • Getting the last of something before it’s gone.
  • Finally getting out what’s stuck in your teeth.
  • A cool breeze.
  • Drawing a straight line or a perfect circle freehand.
  • When someone comes running to hug you.
  • When the restroom doesn’t have a line.
  • Being able to breathe through your nose after a cold.
  • The concern people show you when you get injured.
  • Finally finding a parking spot in a full parking lot.
  • Finding the person you’re looking for in a crowd.
  • The way hair looks underwater.
  • Crisp bills.
  • When you drop something and it doesn’t break.
  • Feeling the cool wind on your face when you bike/run.
  • Discovering more fries at the bottom of the bag.
  • Successfully slipping through a slowly closing door.
  • Crossing something off your bucket list.
  • When the power comes back after an outage.
  • When you see your breath on cold days.
  • When you make it inside just as it starts to rain.
  • Getting a rush of ideas after a writer’s block.
  • City skylines.
  • Songs that give you the chills.
  • Getting dressed up.
  • The sound when you pop a cork.
  • The moment right before a kiss.
  • Late night fast food runs.
  • Grabbing a tissue/handkerchief just in time before sneezing.
  • When you get a baby to stop crying.
  • The sound of raindrops on your umbrella.
  • Quick downloads.
  • Not getting caught.
  • Fixing something broken.
  • Seeing a nearby stranger laugh at you and your friend’s amusing conversation.
  • When your favorite store has a sale.
  • The “thank you” wave from other drivers.
  • Being in a person’s profile picture.
  • Being the bearer of good news.
  • That “what the HELL” moment after reading an unexpected plot twist.
  • Successfully untying a difficult knot.
  • When a stranger stops an elevator door from closing on you.
  • Knowing the answer to a question when no one else does.
  • When a person asks you if you made it home safely.
  • When the water in your ear finally flows out.
  • Arriving on time when you thought you wouldn’t.
  • The chocolate at the bottom of an ice cream cone.
  • Peeling the plastic film off of a newly-purchased item.
  • The satisfaction of scratching an itch.
  • Making up with someone after a fight.
  • Passing by a body of water during a road trip.
  • The sound of heels clicking.
  • When someone calls you their best friend.
  • Plugging in your laptop just before it dies.
  • When people do things for you without being asked.
  • The feeling after recovering from a brain freeze.
  • When a person doesn’t let go after a hug even after you do.
  • Books that make you laugh/cry.
  • When a show finally comes back on after a long commercial break.
  • When a slow driver in front of you changes lanes.
  • Finally buying something you saved money for.
  • Watching fireworks.
  • Being able to use an item that you brought just in case.
  • Bacon.

This post ended up being much longer than I thought it would be. Turns out there are a lot of things that make people happy, and the really happy people notice these little things and appreciate them. Do you?

If you guys have any more suggestions for this post, or if you have other post ideas that you want me to write about, don’t hesitate to contact me here.

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One thought on “The Little Things That Make You Happy

  1. Pingback: It Gets Better: Why Suicide or Self-Harm Isn’t Your Only Option | Coffee and Keystrokes

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