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101 Simple Pleasures to Boost Happiness

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2013-04-08-Smileyballoon.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, I got a lovely handwritten note in the mail from a sweet elderly acquaintance in our community. She had read in the local paper that my oldest son was named the Connecticut Student Journalist of the Year, and she had clipped the piece which she sent along with her kind congratulatory message. Also tucked into the notecard was a little yellow balloon with a smileyface. The beautiful note was truly so touching and the balloon made me smile. I immediately dropped a note in the mail back to her, thanking her for her thoughtfulness and for making my day.

I was so tickled that I decided to post about it on Facebook, and I blew up the yellow smiley balloon to take a picture for the post. Well, it's two weeks later, and believe it or not, that silly party store balloon has become everyone's favorite object in the whole house! My teenage boys volley it back and forth to see how long they can keep it in the air. They try to spike it at each other. They do head-butts with it. I caught one guy repeatedly bouncing it off his nose like a dolphin. They play with it in my office. In the hallway. In the family room. One night I was watching TV in bed when one of them came in to kiss me goodnight carrying the balloon. He he tossed it to me and we went back and forth a few times. Such a simple pleasure, yet without fail, it makes everybody smile.

So can simple pleasures actually make us happier? Indeed they can, according to Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. "It's not life changes like a new house or a fancy car that make the most impact, but sometimes little things like the smell of an orange, that give the biggest happiness boost," says Rubin. She adds, "Over and over, people tell me something like cleaning out a medicine cabinet gives them a huge jolt of good cheer and energy."

The smiley yellow balloon inspired me to come up with a list of 101 simple pleasures that might make you smile or will perhaps spark other ideas of your own. Of course, simple pleasures aren't universal, so one person's pleasures won't necessarily bring the same boost of happiness to others. But the possibilities are limitless and it's fun and interesting to see what others consider to be simple pleasures, so please share your ideas in the comments below!

  1. Feeling warm sand between your toes at the beach
  2. Seeing a baby light up with a giant grin
  3. Getting a handwritten note in the mail
  4. Listening to your favorite music
  5. Warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies
  6. A magnificent sunrise or sunset
  7. Cuddling
  8. Good chocolate
  9. Holding hands
  10. Laughing until you nearly wet your pants
  11. Inside jokes
  12. Spending time with people you adore
  13. A cloudless sky
  14. Your favorite flower
  15. Getting a call or email from someone you love out of the blue
  16. Watching your favorite childhood TV show
  17. Singing loudly in the car
  18. Hugging your babies, no matter how old they are
  19. Stargazing at night
  20. Lying in bed listening to the rain
  21. Finding money you didn't know was in your pocket
  22. An icy glass of lemonade (or beer) on a hot summer day
  23. Getting a great parking space
  24. Sleeping in
  25. Fresh bed sheets
  26. Putting on clothes straight from the dryer
  27. A breathtaking view -- water, mountain, cityscape, forest, whatever
  28. A picnic
  29. Plump summer tomatoes
  30. Bodysurfing
  31. A fireworks display
  32. Making someone smile
  33. Kissing
  34. The farmers market
  35. Helping someone in need
  36. The smell of a baby's head
  37. Building a sandcastle
  38. Watching clouds float by
  39. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  40. Checking something off your to-do list
  41. The cool side of the pillow
  42. The smell of a thunderstorm ("petrichor")
  43. Waking up and finding the alarm isn't going off for another three hours
  44. Swinging on a lazy porch swing
  45. Snuggling under the covers on a stormy day
  46. A perfectly-timed, cozy snowstorm
  47. Relaxing in front of a roaring fire
  48. A great book
  49. A long walk on a cool day
  50. Cherry blossom trees
  51. A clean closet
  52. Unexpected good news
  53. The smell of a barbecue
  54. Bubble wrap
  55. An afternoon nap
  56. Finding an old personal treasure at the bottom of a drawer or in the back of a closet
  57. Hitting a bunch of green lights in a row
  58. A brand-new 64 box of Crayolas
  59. Cookie dough
  60. Your favorite movie
  61. Fresh-picked berries, still warm from the sun
  62. Not having to be anywhere
  63. Getting a giant hug just when you need it
  64. Minty breath
  65. Putting on a snuggly sweatshirt after a chilly afternoon at the beach
  66. A long conversation with a favorite friend
  67. The rare perfect errand day
  68. The smell of fresh-cut grass
  69. Tears of joy
  70. A fabulous bottle of wine
  71. Collecting sea shells
  72. Bubble juice and a bubble wand
  73. A newly-fallen blanket of snow
  74. Making s'mores
  75. The smell of fresh-baked cookies or bread
  76. Vibrant autumn foliage
  77. A foot massage
  78. Licking the batter
  79. Seeing a rainbow
  80. Candlelight
  81. Spring flowers blooming
  82. Hot chocolate on a cold day
  83. Finding something you made when you were a kid
  84. Puppy kisses
  85. Randomly bumping into someone you haven't seen in a while
  86. A good hair day
  87. When something you were going to buy anyway is on sale
  88. Getting a caring customer service person on the phone
  89. A balloon
  90. Coming across an old photo that makes you smile
  91. The season premiere of your favorite show
  92. Riding with the top down
  93. A chocolate ice cream cone
  94. Taking a shower after a day at the beach
  95. When someone lets you know they're thinking of you
  96. The smell of a sea breeze
  97. Hearing an old song you used to love
  98. A bright full moon over the water
  99. When a baby falls asleep in your arms
  100. Rereading a favorite childhood book
  101. City lights at night

Were your favorites on the list? What else can you add?

For more by Andrea Reiser, click here.

For more on happiness, click here.

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