14 Thousand Things

There is a book called 14 Thousand Things to Be Happy About. I wish I thought of that idea first, to write all the things that make me happy and submit it to a publisher. I have my students do this journal activity once in a while. Write down the things that make you happy. Then Oprah overheard me and called it a Gratitude Journal. Dang.

Dr. Emmons, a psychologist at UC Davis, has conducted studies for years that have shown that gratitude is good for us. All those years in the eighties and early nineties that I spent venting my angst in my journals in order to purge the rotten feelings were wasted, it seems. Peace, solutions to problems, and a clearer outlook maybe might come from simply listing the things that make you happy.

I don’t have time for 14 thousand things right now because I have to go to Back-to-School Night, but here are 14:

  1. My dentist is fast and crazy effective. I mean supernaturally fast with a filling. If you knew the Dickensian history of my teeth, you would know why this is at the top.
  2. Everyone in my family is healthy.
  3. When I wore high heel shoes today I didn’t fall down.
  4. Dark chocolate Milky Ways are a thing someone invented.
  5. When I’m not at work I am usually wearing a dress that is essentially a mumu and then a pair of too-large pants underneath and no one ever stops me.
  6. The smell of asphalt in rain.
  7. The orange quality of light at 5:21 on a September evening in Sacramento.
  8. Back to School nights
  9. The sound of my Witch Baby playing violin, hollering at me every four minutes to ask if her practice time is up yet.
  10. New York Public Library podcasts, especially when someone over the age of forty-five is speaking.
  11. This speech by Mira Jacob, though not the fact that no one listened to her when she tried at first to deliver it. Maybe in the outrage more than ever will hear it.
  12. I have two edits due at the end of the month which means I have work coming out in the future.
  13. I have had the benefit of working with attentive, intelligent, co-creative editors. I have been very lucky in this regard.
  14.  Mad Max Fury Road happened.

What are your 14 things right now?

Maureen O’Leary Wanket is the author of How to Be Manly and The Arrow.

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