Kat Atwell is a freelance writer, blogger & stage presence telling stories that deliver laughs, validation & community.

Mental Health | Wellness & Self Image | Experiential & Reviews

14,000 Things to Be Happy About

In 1990, Barbara Ann Kipfer published this book. I was in high school at the time. And, as we all know, being a teenager is difficult, so I purchased it. High five to me for that smart move, by the way. It was one of the best decisions I made.

In my spare time, I’d take a few minutes to scan a couple pages and make notes in the margins, identifying which of the listed items truly made me happy. It was a good exercise.

At some point, I started loaning the book out to friends so that they, too, could mark up the pages with notes as to how the book cheered them up, going one step further, and adding things to the back page of happy things that had somehow been overlooked.

Emily Price was one of the people I specifically remember loaning this book to in high school. I remember her handwriting in the margins, and I remember being reminded for the zillionth time of how absolutely brilliant this girl was.

I bring up Emily for a couple reasons: first, she still makes me ridiculously happy simply by being who she is; and two, last week, she participated in a video chat with me, Yi Ching, and Jennie - friends of mine going back to elementary school.

Two hours spent talking with three women I have known for over 30 years. Holy hell. It was absolutely magical.

Right now, it’s extra important to me to notice what makes me happy, as I’m sure it is for lots of us. I’m not here to tell you what actions you should be taking, how you should be grieving, why you should be having the hard conversations, what opportunities can come from recently unfolded events, where to donate your money, what issues are most important, who you should be mad at, or how you should feel. That’s a lot of thoughts happening at once. I don’t know about you, but I’m even quicker to overwhelm right now than usual.

Reminds me of Lloyd Dobler.

So, in drawing inspiration from Barbara Ann Kipfer, and a teenage me, I’m adding some additional things I’m happy about in this blog. I invite you to add your own, or tell me which of these resonate with you. Or not. You do you.

  • Hot air balloons

Photo by  Aaron Burden  on  Unsplash
  • Warm blankets

  • A solid night’s sleep

  • Spotting wildlife

  • The smell of wet earth

  • Laughing with friends

  • Homemade gifts

  • Church bells

  • Waterfalls

  • Colossal

  • Bubble baths

  • Teachers

  • Craft stores

  • Collecting quotes

  • Ginger ale

  • People watching at airports

  • Scrabble

  • Handwritten letters

Photo by  Debby Hudson  on  Unsplash
Photo by  William Krause  on  Unsplash
With the new day comes new strengths and new thoughts.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Accountability. Anxiety. Alliteration.

PSA: Calling In Sick.