free stuff

Happiness: Practically for Free!

My happiness abounds! All is well. One of the things I’ve loved to do for years is make “Top 10 Lists.” It’s okay if they have more than 10 things on them or—in an emergency—fewer. Here are the ten things that are causing my joy to peak at this moment:

1. My house is crazy clean and organized. From our trip, we returned to the maid-cleaned home, which was awesome, and we easily sorted as we unpacked. But then I had All The Surprise Jobs to do, and a big fat virus in my body, so our space got disorganized again, and the dishes went undone. This morning I woke free and clear, and by noon everything was ship-shape again. Yum!

2. Flowers! Only this summer I figured out that it feels critically important to me to live in a green oasis within a dry climate. Winters, I continue to be surrounded by bright green grass and coniferous trees, which continually boost my spirit. The missing colour of deciduous plants I bring back with a bouquet of cut flowers. In a tiny house, one small bouquet easily fills the space.

3. Releasing. I removed a number of items from my walls that I was no longer needing to reference, and filed them away under ‘Journal.’ All releases increase my sense of breathing space, of relief.

4. Solitude. For the first time in days, I have an hour alone. My son is out for a walk with one of his favourite friends. I am gifted.

5. Books! I seem to be reading all of them?? Before I took up advocacy work, I used to fill my days reading. It’s been many years. I am back to my voracious self, twelve books in three weeks. Thank you, all writers! You create gems.

6. Social plans. A favourite aspect of my trip was being “alone with others.” With others talking, resting, eating, or singing on nearby couches, I read or napped. I often joined in, too, but gosh it fills me to be with others, even silently. This week has been packed, so I’ve opted out of some social opportunities in favour of rest. Tomorrow, though? A day-long “party”, with lots of my favourite social introverts, fellow INFJs, extroverts, and so on.

7. Boundaries. During the peak of crazy stress last week, a neighbour asked how I was. When I told him the truth, he became profoundly silly and dismissive. My anger flared, and I pulled my hand away from his patronizing petting. When I’d processed how his response had impacted me, and how this had been true in similar moments with him, I made a commitment: no interacting with him when I am stressed. He is “nice” but also lacking either in empathy or in an ability to support a person who is experiencing stress. That’s okay! And it’s also okay that I am now choosing to keep our interactions to the polite and superficial. Every time I develop a necessary boundary, my happiness increases.

8. Connection. Through blog comments, visits, emails, shared activities, emailed voicemails, texts, and books, I find so many places in common. People who feel the way I feel, think the way I think. I place a very high value on hanging with people whose beliefs and feelings I don’t share, but boy do I also love me those places of resonance!

9. My kid. He started out great, but I swear that person just gets better and better with time. While he certainly has his moments—just like his mother—he is generally so gentle, peaceful, kind, helpful, and enthusiastic. What a little gem. Hearing his soft speech—his eagerness and his mature effort to stay connected—fills my whole body with peace and gratitude.

10. My bed. My bed journey has been rather involved. My body often prefers sleeping on a hard floor, but my current space isn’t always conducive to that. Yet, my room is so tiny that a normal bed in there frustrates me. A little while ago, I found a cot and decided to test that. It’s GREAT! It puts me at the minimum height I need, is narrow enough to create space in the room, and in a second folds right up into a vertical, rolling device that Roomba appreciates. Best of all, it’s crazy comfy. Through my virus and beyond, I’ve been having ridiculously wonderful sleeps.

Guess how much all of the above has cost me? $10. Ten bucks! For so much happiness! A skookum deal.

8 thoughts on “Happiness: Practically for Free!

  1. What a pleasure to read a list from you, Joon! 🙂 I can just imagine your flowers filling your space, your eyes, your head, your heart.

    I always appreciate your outflow of goodness. I am going to send you back some of the goodness in my life with my own list.

    1. My “pelvis of antiquity” – I’ve been having a fair amount of pelvic pain lately, and have been gently focusing on that, trying to really discern ares of greater sensitivity, etc. (and yes, making another Dr’s appt.) This morning when I got up the thought of “Good morning, Pelvis of Antiquity” came into my head, which made me laugh and laugh. WHAT!? But how wonderful to know that my pelvic region has a name (that it gave itself), and apparently – a sense of humour! A blessing indeed.

    2. The book “Dying to Be Me” by Anita Moorjani – The line from it that I am using as my mantra lately: we don’t have to work at being loving – we are love. Thich Naht Hahn wrote (on my facebook feed) “The question is not, how can we obtain love and understanding? The question is whether we have the capacity of generating love and understanding ourselves.” And we do! That is a total relief to me.

    3. My facebook feed – Which surprises me, but yes! A way for me to watch some social things happening in my world with only the amount of interaction I desire at any given moment. I am part of the Instant Pot Community fb group and yesterday I was feeling silly and bubbly and I posted several things that I thought were hilarious. It was so satisfying to have somewhere to say just what I was feeling in that moment and then move on. 🙂

    4. Health – That the people I love in the world are all well. I know this is temporary, and so I cherish the knowledge that right now, the people I love are healthy and well.

    5. Release! – I gave notice at a job that I have been debating leaving for a year. This job is wonderful. Fills me full of laughter and light and wonder. There are also moments of blech, but mostly GOODNESS!!! However, the time has come to have a day off, and so I gave notice. Because it is important that just the right set of circumstances come into place to fill my leaving, I gave notice with no end date, knowing it might be months before the next goodness could form itself. But I got a message this morning that the solution has already presented itself, with grace and ease, and so my last day of work is only 6 weeks away. It is happy/sad. I am grateful for every ounce of that sadness, too. 🙂

    Cost $0$!

    Five will have to do for now, though I feel like I could go on and on. 🙂


  2. Making that list yesterday changed the tenor of my entire day, Joon.
    I am going to resist making a grand promise – I’ll write one every day! – and just tuck into my heart the knowledge that when I do this practice, it has a ripple effect.


  3. Yes, Joon – you sprinkle goodness wherever you go! 🙂

    In this culture, where complaining and whining rule, you are a breath of fresh air. How can we not be filled with pure gratitude everyday when we wake up to a warm, cozy, safe home; abundant hot water at hour fingertips; delicious and plentiful food; loved ones, healthy and whole,… I could go on for a long on and on….

    Thank you for making the world a better place by putting out love, kindness and gratitude into the universal energy we share.

    May you receive goodness in return.



    1. Darcy, I read your comment when it first came through, during an especially busy time. It has held me throughout. Thank you so much for these incredibly kind words!


  4. On your topic, what are the things causing my own current happiness to peak?

    1. Watching my dogs play together
    2. Watching my pets sleeping like little ADORABLE angels. 🙂 I could do this forever.
    3. Walking in my neighborhood and seeing all the different types of people who make this place their home.
    4. Walking and seeing the hills turning green from the recent rain.
    5. Cuddling with me fluffy little dog in the chilly mornings as he sneaks under the blankets to snuggle right up against me.
    6. Seeing my husband’s happy face as he plays with the cat (his favorite) or enjoys his delicious shrimp dinner.
    7. Sitting next to my husband and feeling the love pouring out of him for our little family.
    8. Gratitude for all the resources our family has.
    9. Gratitude for our family’s health.
    10. A hot and spicy bowl of soup brimming with deliciousness.

    Cost? The pragmatist part of my brain recognizes the initial and ongoing cost of having this life and these peak experiences: resources to feed and care for our pets, buying and cooking good food (appliances, home, utilities, etc), the labor involved to provide the income to allow me the privilege of enjoying many of these experiences, the emotional work done to be able to appreciate this life and these experiences, etc.

    I want to stay aware of how lucky I am. And grateful for what I have, so I like the fact that instinctively I recognize just how much this life costs and not take it for granted.

    But, in terms of dollar output for each experience, which is the point of your post, the cost is $0.


    1. Darcy, your list was so beautiful! I have continued loving imagining your life since I first read it here 🙂 I, too, am often aware of what I initially invested to create the life I have now.

      Going back even further in the process, it frequently strikes me that I live inside what was once another person’s vision board (i.e., various people dreamed up bathtubs, retreat centres, hot running water, etc long before I came along to enjoy it all!) and also that I am living the life I began working toward twenty years ago. I remember back to that time, when I first kindled hope, and am amazed to be living it all today!

      And then, yes, there are the initial investments in what I enjoy cheap or free today: my car, my robot vacuum, my laptop, my washing machine. But, when I consider my personal vision and priorities, and invest toward only those, I end up with a hilariously low-cost life. Score 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s