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15 things that make an ordinary day happy

When I was a kid, my mom would drop us off at school and say, “You are going to have a good day.” She’d say it in an accent completely unlike herself – and today, I still wake up thinking of that mantra. Sometimes the difference between a good day and a bad day is just in how we perceive it, isn’t it?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a bucket list for our children. I’ve been thinking a lot about that list and how this same attitude that we hope our kids grow up to have is also the perspective on life we want to live today.

So let’s jump right in. Here are 15 things that make an ordinary day happy!

1. Smile a lot. I know that’s a very American thing to do. But trust me. Once you start smiling more, it makes your days feel brighter. It makes the recipients of your smiles happier, too. (Ever not light up when a baby smiles at you?)

2. Practice kindness. Should you treat other people as you like to be treated? No. Treat them better, because when you see their joy or believe you’ve impacted their world in some little way, it feels good.

3. Don’t keep score. If you do, you’ll inevitably be miserable whenever you think someone else owes you something.

4. Know that your life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, your home doesn’t have to be, either, as Myquillyn always says.

5. Get outside. Maybe the sun it’s shining. Maybe it’s pouring rain. Heck, here in Montana we wake up to freezing temperatures and snow all the time. But pause just for a minute every day, and go out there.

6. Say, “I love you.” And mean it.

7. Eat with someone else. If you know someone is eating alone, call her up for an impromptu picnic. Take the widow down the street out for lunch. Stop by a mother’s house when her kids are away at summer camp.

8. Keep a journal. This journal for finding your direction is a best-selling writing prompt journal that I designed at It helps you open your heart and slowly craft some plans, so that you can celebrate the person you’re meant to become. A journal is a place where you always get to be you.

9. Ignore what “they” say. A couple years ago, I decided to stop buying clothes for three months. I was tired of how “they” kept telling me my outfits weren’t fashionable enough or cute enough. The No New Clothes Challenge launched, turned into something like a 1 1/2 year-long project, and changed my perspective on how I view myself… whether my perception aligned with “theirs” or not!

10. Take walks.

11. Say, “Thank you.” Don’t just thank your family members for passing the salt or hanging up their coats. Look them in the eye, and tell them you’re grateful for the things they do and the people they are. Write thanks in a letter to an old friend. Jot it on a scrap of paper and tuck it under the neighbor’s windshield wiper. Folks deserve to know that what they’re doing matters.

12. Practice self love. I think this TEDxTalk says it all.

13. Sincerely wish the best for others. Even your enemies. (Especially the people you call enemies.)

14. Know and interact with people who are different than you. When I lived abroad in Germany, my closest friends were two Russian women my age. We communicated through wild arm gestures, doodles, and some really awful attempts at German. I always walked away from our favorite cafe feeling inspired. They could show me the world in ways I had never seen.

15. And finally, just remember that tomorrow is always another day.

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. Missy Robinson

    I love these reminders! And I love the way your mother’s voice remains with you all these years later – I wonder what my parting words tell my children each morning? I’m going to be more conscientious about that!

    • Tanya Person

      This was a great article on pointers on hoe to have a happy attitude. I often tell my daughter “Have a good day “, as i drop her off at school. This reaffirmed my belief that I can shape her day by our short conversation in the car, My goal as a mother is to help mold and shape her belief system. She thinks that my affirmations are silly but in time she will benefit from my positive attitude and it will help her in her latter years. The name of the article is great. It contains the overall objective of the contents.

  2. Rheagan

    My mother always said, “Happiness is a choice” not a station in life. I am always reminded of her words when I think, “If I only had X, then I would be happy.”

  3. Deborah P

    Thanks for this today. I needed to be reminded of a number of these things as well as the overall message on perception. You’ve accomplished #2 today!

  4. Jackie

    Who is the speaker for the TED talk? The link is not working, but I’d love to check that out. Thanks for this list.

  5. Donna @ More Than Hungry

    Creating a Bucket List to pass on to your children is such a sweet idea! It’s good for every last one of us. I – in particular – have trouble with #’s 9 & 12 and will dig deeper there. I’ll be passing this on to my adult daughters too. Loved it.

  6. Caroline Starr Rose

    The part about keeping score, I’m trying to be more aware with this, not in the ways I relate to others but how I relate to myself.

    It’s easy for me to do things like run a race and then be disappointed I didn’t hit a personal best or fell out of my typical time range. I need to be better about flipping this, celebrating that fact I ran it at all!

  7. Vickie

    Giggling at #9 as 2 clothing ads pop up around it.

  8. mel

    I love this! Its totally all about perspective and it’s contagious!

  9. Kate

    #4 there: Life doesn’t have to perfect to be beautiful. Yes. I’ve been taking this in all year.

    Such truth.

    Thanks for sharing…and brightening up my day a bit.

    Kate 🙂

  10. Lynn M.

    Thanks, Katie. This list helped me as well, this morning. It made me do number 5 and really get out there and enjoy the sun this morning. I did some mental and physical stretches. Lynn M.

  11. Jenny

    Love this post!! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Katie Harding

    Love #6 and #15 the most but the whole post was beautiful. Totally made me smile 🙂

  13. marty preston

    This made me smile! It nice how simple thing can change so much

  14. Maria Lisette

    Thank you for such an inspiring post!
    You really gave me some good input for the day. All the way to Denmark… 🙂
    Best wishes

  15. shamoona hasan

    Really inspiring and motivational. There is no doubt the needs of survival are not many, we are constantly expanding them and that is why we are mostly under the pressures of self created tensions. we seldom realize that the life we are blessed with, is not only about receiving it is actually about giving.

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