What’s a happy list and why is it worth doing?

I read once that the secret to happiness is to count your blessings. Basically, be thankful for what you’ve got, not what you haven’t.

In real life though, we’re constantly bombarded with what we haven’t got and told to yearn for those things – a bigger house, bigger car, bigger wardrobe etc. Adverts and mainstream media sell us the idea of the perfect body and the perfect life while simultaneously telling us to “live in the moment”. It can be confusing. That’s why I’m a big advocate of the happy list.

The happy list can be a list of anything that makes you happy. It’s not a list of what you haven’t got or haven’t yet achieved. It’s a list of what you have, who you are and what you’ve achieved RIGHT NOW, this second. For me, a happy list is a good place to go back to basics when I’m having a moment of self-doubt, or just in need of a little pep talk.

We are often so hard on ourselves. We tell ourselves we’ll be happy once we’ve achieved X, Y or Z. That once we lose that weight, bag that new job, buy those new shoes, we’ll feel fulfilled and life can begin.

[Side not: Diet companies are built on this whole idea – how many weight loss “transformation” stories have you read where Linda (or whoever) “began her new life” after she lost weight? Well, newsflash – Linda’s life (and yours) is happening RIGHT NOW.]

Back to the happy list then, and it’s a way to counteract this constant striving for perfection, for newness. It’s a way to hit back against the idea that we aren’t enough as we are and we don’t deserve to feel happy with what we already have.

Even if there is more you want from life, your life is still happening this very second. To constantly strive for what’s around the corner means you lose the magic of the moments that are happening right under your nose. A happy list brings us back to these basic things, reminds us to remember who we are and what we have already and, I find, re-centres us.

But writing a happy list for the first time can be problematic. So instead of sharing mine with you right now (I’ll share my October happy list in a separate post tomorrow) I wanted to start with the basics of where to begin when you write your own happy list.

Remember, these lists will likely change from day to day or month to month. Some people call them “gratitude lists” but in my experience, the things I’m grateful for on a deep level rarely change – my family, my health etc. So a happy list is kind of lighter, a little more frivolous, if you will.

The whole point of a happy list is to focus on what you are and what you have RIGHT NOW. It might be the discovery of a new recipe you’ve enjoyed cooking, or a new route you’ve enjoyed walking. Or maybe it’s something you’ve achieved in your day-to-day life worth celebrating (maybe you’ve done something great at work, for example, or maybe you’ve made it through a full day with the kids on very little sleep after a night up with a teething baby). Maybe it’s a book you’re enjoying, a podcast you’ve been listening to or simply the feeling you have when you see a particular view.

Whatever is on your happy list it will be completely unique to you. Writing it will bring you a sense of satisfaction and joy – even if you find it tough at first.

Tell me, do you write a regular happy list? What things might be on your list this month? 



  1. Margaret Weaver says

    Love this…happy list right now…the weekend! Seeing family and doing shopping x Sorry you are not here. though your blog is on my happy list!xxx

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