Thinking Happy Thoughts

I’m trying hard to get into the holiday spirit. I truly am. But the world is making it difficult to feel joyful these days. Shameless politicians spewing hate and intolerance and ignorance. People killing other people for sport. Heartbreaking refugee crises. Climate change. The continued assault against women’s reproductive rights and sensible gun control legislation. Racism and all the other -isms that have festered just below the surface for so long but are now oozing out in the open, no thanks to those damn politicians whose words and deeds are making such -isms an acceptable part of everyday discourse.

I have spent the last couple of days trying to think of what I can possibly do to make a difference – besides donating money to the causes I believe in (hello, Planned Parenthood, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Doctors Without Borders…) and voting for the candidates whose values most align with mine. Some meaningful volunteer work might be in my future, if I can find an organization that will have me.

In the interim, my plan over the next few weeks is to focus on the micro, not the macro. Instead of harping on all that’s bleak in the universe and wondering what kind of legacy we’re leaving our kids, I’m making a concerted effort to savor all the small bits of life that make me smile. Doing this makes me feel just the tiniest bit like Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” which makes me more than a little queasy, but what the hell. Focusing on our favorite things when the world is ugly can’t be a bad thing, right?


  • Reading about people – more intrepid, idealistic and altruistic than I will ever be – who are trying to make the world a better place.
  • Cuddling with Sophie, even though she’s almost as tall as I am.
  • Going to the movies with Chloe.
  • My husband’s silly jokes, which seem funnier than they actually are because of his French accent.
  • Andy Borowitz.
  • Truffle’s mastery of the frisbee catch.
  • The thought of seeing our front yard awash in color when the 70+ bulbs we planted this fall metamorphosize into beautiful springtime flowers.
  • Mallomars.
  • Seeing other people smile. Especially when you don’t know the reason for their smile, like Mona Lisa.
  • Sunday night cable TV.
  • Gingerbread houses.
Gingerbread House
The 2015 Gingerbread Village, built with love by Grammy, Sophie & Chloe
  • Completing the Sunday NY Times crossword puzzle.
  • Warm weather in December (while trying not to think too hard about why we have this warm weather in December).
  • Daydreaming about our next family vacation.
  • Gargoyles

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  • Diving into the last book in Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan” series.
  • Dark chocolate. Specifically Neuhaus chocolates.
  • Young Americans” by David Bowie.
  • The most recent photos of Pluto. Our NASA scientists are brilliant and that gives me hope for humankind.

What’s on your happy list? Please do share!

7 thoughts on “Thinking Happy Thoughts”

  1. Good list, Jennifer. I’m making with you on the warm weather in December one. When I first came to Minnesota, MPR had a mug they were using for a giveaway that had a family in puffy down jackets. They looked like Michelin men. Underneath it said “Minnesotans for Global Warming.” Nobody’s joking about that anymore. But it’s hard not to be pleased when you park your car on the street, and don’t have to dig your car out of a snowbank every other day. Happy Hanukkah.

    1. Thanks, Paula. That’s actually pretty funny. As much as I find myself increasingly intolerant of the cold weather as I get older, living in NJ is nothing compared to what you all must endure in MN. Oy!

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