How to Find Happy.

My name is Maddie, and I hope that by reading this post and learning something about me, you will learn something about you as well. All things considered, I have a lot to be grateful for. My family, friends, the opportunities I have been given, and the experiences I have had are things I cannot take for granted. Gratitude was not something that was consciously on my mind a lot before the end of my freshman year. Sure, my family would go around the Thanksgiving table one by one and say what we were thankful for that year, and I would say please and thank you when I was supposed to. But taking time out of my everyday life to stop just going through the motions and actually sitting down and writing down what I am grateful for was not something I thought to do.

In the winter semester of my freshman year, I decided to take a first year seminar called the Science of Health and Happiness. It just sounded fun, and I thought it would be an easy class to lighten my course load. One of the semester-long assignments we had to complete was keeping a daily Gratitude Journal, where each day we would write down three things that we are grateful for. This is a task that was at first easy, then got hard, then got easy again.

The first things that came to my mind were to write down: 1) my mom, 2) my dad and 3) my sister. Ok, night one was a success.

The next night I was still coasting a little bit. 1) my home friends, 2) my Michigan friends, 3) my Grammy.

This went on for the next few nights, as I ticked the important people in my life off the list. Then, one night, my mind drew a blank. I was out of people and places that played huge roles in my life. So I wrote down “my ‘cheel’ playlist on Spotify.” I remember it was the day I left school for spring break, so I had been listening to this playlist on the plane ride home. Small and simple, this playlist has by no means been a major player in the course of my life. But it’s something that makes me happy and that I appreciate.

Finding these small, happy details of my life that had previously gone unnoticed began something I looked forward to daily. Promptly at 11 PM every night, a reminder on my phone would pop up: “Gratitude.” I would eagerly jot down my list of three things that I had specifically curated throughout the day in my Gratitude Journal and take a moment to appreciate their role in my life at that moment.

This Gratitude Journal is going to be my origin piece; it is a collection of the little things that make me who I am. I can read my list from one day and know exactly what occurred that day and who I was with. I can see how people and things in my life have shifted. I can see who I have become and how I became her. And hopefully this inspires you to do the same.