Finding happiness in every-day routines

An account of small triumphs

I just recently went to a training module for resident staff where the presenter began with the opening line, “We’re going to go around the room and rate our days on a scale of one through 10. Along with that I want you to give me one adjective that describes your day.”

I heard a lot of various adjectives, from “scary” to “frustrating” to “hopeful.” When my turn came, I ended up saying “consistent.”

At that moment, I found myself wondering why that was. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened that day — everything just progressed smoothly.

Then I realized why I was so content. It was because my past few days had been filled with small instances of pure pleasantness. For example, that week I had a submission for my photography class I was quite apprehensive about. My skills in photography have always been a little rocky, but this time I had managed to take a couple shots that were quite interesting (if I do say so myself) and I honestly looked forward to spending hours in the dark room developing them. In other words, I was strangely excited about working and churning out these prints. Just because of that enthusiasm, I actually managed to finish developing all my pictures on a Friday, leaving me the weekend to breathe. It was an incredible feeling, as the number of times I have completed an assignment early in college can be counted on one hand.

That weekend, I decided to watch a movie since I had so diligently finished my work early. Newcomb Theatre was having a free showing of “Hidden Figures,” which I had been wanting to see for a while. I was extremely excited until I realized that I didn’t have anyone to go with. I thought to myself for a moment and realized that regardless of whether I did go with someone or not, my attention would just be on the movie playing. Therefore, I decided to go watch it alone.

In hindsight, I think it was one of the best decisions I’d ever made. I situated myself in one of the theatre chairs, propped my feet up and made myself content with the various snacks I had brought. I was an independent woman watching a movie about independent women and it heightened the empowering storyline. I left the theatre that evening feeling triumphant and — ridiculously enough — more confident in myself.

Ironically, I carelessly left behind my camera in chemistry lab that following Tuesday. My poor camera spent a miserable night in the lab and I was on edge, dreading that someone had taken it. Needless to say, there was no way I could afford to buy another one. Yet when I found it the next day, nestled in the corner of the lab right where I’d left it, I had never been more thankful for Mr. Jefferson’s honor system. That there was another small triumph, boosting my happiness meter for the week.

The next day, Wednesday, was a gloriously sunny day. The grass was green, the sun was beating down and I actually felt sweaty for the first time in months. Strange as that sounds, it was something I had missed a lot. That day, I had the motivation to actually put some thought into my outfit and I was honestly quite pleased with what I had decided to wear. I cannot begin to recount how many days this semester I have ambled to class in ratty sweatshirts, jeans and sneakers because I was just too tired to even think.

That Wednesday morning, I woke up after eight refreshing hours of sleep to the sun in my eyes and I knew it was not a day to waste on sweatshirts. As superficial as all this sounds, I strongly believe that if you think you look good, you’ll automatically feel good. Another small triumph was added to my rapidly growing collection.

My string of pleasant happenings continued into the following week miraculously (knock on wood, please). I rediscovered a song that I had forgotten about completely. It was an incredibly insignificant moment — I was walking to class on Monday morning quite put off by the fact that it was, indeed, a Monday. As I was scrolling through various Spotify playlists, I intuitively stopped at this one song with a title that was strangely familiar. Curiously, I played it and in an instant the tune of the song washed over me with strong familiarity. Hearing it again after a year was like listening to it for the first time all over again and it was simply incredible. There are certainly many times I regret forgetting, but this was one of those few moments that I was happy I had. Yet again, I had encountered a small triumph of sorts.

This has become almost a list of tiny accomplishments in my daily routine. Some of them can’t even be called accomplishments, but to me, it is a way for me to realize that finding happiness in small things helps more than finding happiness in “big” things that are few and far between. Why should I deny myself the wholesome serenity that is present in abundance around me, when I know it exists in small pockets in the most mundane of things?

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