“I had an awesome day!” said my big girl as she got off the bus. Then as I was trying to get dinner ready, something shifted. She stormed up stairs, flung herself on my bed.

“What’s wrong?”

“Everything was bad today.”

At this point I sigh deeply and hope nothing is burning on the stove. I want to remind her of all the good things about her day, the ones she bubbled about when she got off the bus, the things we’ve done since. She hates it when I say things like, “It was terrible when you got pancakes for breakfast. And you hated having gym today. Then I made you play soccer.”

“Mom, STOP IT!” she says, annoyed but trying not to smile all the same.

I do stop. I let her tell me what was bad—the friend she didn’t to sit with at lunch, the project she wanted to work on when she got home, the bike she wanted to ride before it got dark. I acknowledge it is hard when we have to choose what to do, when we can’t do all the things we want. I get her calmed down enough to go check on dinner.

When we sit down at the table, I ask who has three happy things.

“Can I go first?” she asks. Turns out her day wasn’t all bad after all.

Her mood shifts strike me lately, coming as they do at dinner time or bedtime. I just want to get food on the table, get every one tucked in. I’m tired this time of day—and sometimes I get grumpy. Sometimes I need to refind the happy in my day too. The other day I posted this on Facebook:

3 happy things today:

  • playing games with my kids in front of the fire this morning
  • pre-dinner backyard soccer
  • the gorgeous orange-pink sunset behind the bare trees spotted during that soccer game

It was a peaceful cozy start to my day. I admit, I didn’t really want to go out to play soccer, but my big girl’s enthusiasm was infectious and the fresh air woke me up. I found myself smiling even before she stopped the ball and said, “Mom, look at the sky!” We both paused to soak it in before she started kicking again. When we looked back, the color had faded our fingers grew cold, and we agreed to go back in.

We typically say something we are thankful for at the beginning of dinner, and perhaps that would be more appropriate in this season, but this week, at my neighbor’s prompting, we started saying three happy things.

Once we get started, the kids can’t seem to stop. They rattle off five or interrupt each other—”oh, oh, I have another one.” It’s not a bad way to spend dinner.

Today, the my little girl’s use of the word splendid during a game delighted me, bright sunshine fills me with joy, and finishing up a project that I’ve been procrastinating makes me happy.


What ‘s making you happy today? Writing Prompt: Write about what makes you happy today. List things or freewrite about one thing that makes you happy.

My journals are filled with the sad, angry, worry, and confusion. There are moments of joy or contentment, but they tend to be briefer, less frequent. I write often to sort things out.

But happiness, hope, joy, and gratitude have a place too. Write about what makes you happy today. List it (a happiness journal rather than a gratitude journal) or choose one and freewrite about it. Start with sensory details. Take of a snapshot of this moment in words.

Share what’s making you happy today in comments.