It takes courage to open ourselves up to joy. —Brene Brown

I can’t say the last ten years of my life has been easy/smooth.

From losing my dad to cancer, going through a bout of depression because of it, getting accused and sued for a hit-and-run that I was not involved in (which is a story for another time), and losing more loved ones were just the tip of the iceberg.

I hardly ever complain about life and the things it throws at me. However, that’s not to say I don’t get annoyed with bad things that happen to me. I just respond with gratitude by remembering what I do have.

My friend, Paula, over at Thirteen Thoughts shared a post last week called 50 Things That Make Me Happy. I thought it was very original and I loved learning more about her.

Finding Joy: 50 Things That Make Me Happy | She Sweats Diamonds - neutral outfit idea - Leena Snoubar
Image via Leena Snoubar

And considering it’s the month to be thankful, I thought I’d respond to her with a post, but also share with you guys so you can get to know me better too!

Here’s my “things that make me happy list” in no particular order whatsoever:

  1. Spending time with my family. I absolutely LOVE it when we’re having a conversation and it leads to uncontrollable laughter. My mom is so funny and doesn’t even know it. And my brother? He doesn’t even have to try. He’s hilarious!
  2. Time with my friends brings me so much joy. I love it when we all get together for dinner and no one is looking at their phones. That means good conversations and storytelling is happening. An indication of a good time is when we forget to take photos too!
  3. My weighted blanket that one of my best friends gifted me for my birthday this year (thanks, Sarah!). I sleep like a baby!
  4. Pizza always makes me happy.
  5. Traveling lights up my soul. I love the feeling of arriving at a destination and getting ready to explore (after taking a nap, of course).
  6. Lighting a brand new candle. Diptyque is my favorite.
  7. A fresh haircut. For someone whose hair is thick and heavy, I LOVE the feeling of being able to fly.
  8. Music always puts me in a good mood.
  9. Blogging. Writing is a major way I express thoughts and feelings.
  10. Getting lost in my thoughts about my future (life, husband, kids, etc.).
  11. Days where I feel like I’m on fire and no one can stop my groove.
  12. Seeing the look on my family and friends’ faces when I surprise them with just-because gifts.
  13. Hitting ‘schedule’ on a blog post.
  14. Browsing online and getting inspiration for my blog, future home, etc.
  15. Crawling into clean sheets in fresh pajamas after taking a hot shower.
  16. Christmas, especially driving around looking at Christmas lights with my friends and making funny commentary.
  17. Reading epic fantasy novels like The Sword of Truth. I love escaping life through reading.
  18. Reading my favorite blogs.
  19. Getting emails and DMs from people who follow me on social media or my blog.
  20. Finishing a good book and closing the cover and just being in the moment that the author just gave me.
  21. Hearing children’s laughter and their funny conversations with their parents in public.
  22. The feeling of exhausted accomplishment after I finish a hardcore workout or a 5K race.
  23. Watching Lydia Millen’s YouTube videos.
  24. Henry Cavill’s funny Instagram captions on his serious-looking photos.
  25. Speaking of Instagram, Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman’s hilarious online bromance gets me rolling every time!
  26. The scenes where Spider-Man vlogs in Captain America: Civil War. I will never not laugh/smile at that, haha!
  27. Learning something new.
  28. Making people smile/laugh.
  29. Watching a sunset/sunrise.
  30. Puppies just being puppies. Speaking of, holding/playing with a puppy makes me happy too.
  31. If I’m ever down, I watch cute animal videos. For instance, pandas climbing trees and being silly.
  32. Taking in the landscapes from my travels.
  33. Attending leadership conferences to grow and learn.
  34. Having deep and engaging conversations.
  35. Physically feeling the presence of God.
  36. Learning something I’ve never noticed before from scripture.
  37. Getting good news from those I know who have been through a lot.
  38. Seeing people’s reactions. I love people watching.
  39. A fresh manicure.
  40. Listening to the rain, ocean waves, or snow fall.
  41. Comedy shows like Frasier and I Love Lucy.
  42. Cheesy (dad) jokes.
  43. New workout gear, makeup, or clothes, especially since I don’t buy a lot of things like I used to anymore.
  44. People who aren’t afraid to be geeky or nerdy about something they love.
  45. Simple yet chic outfits, especially if they’re in neutral/classic colors.
  46. Hugging a loved one after not seeing them for awhile.
  47. Peony season.
  48. Decorating for the holidays.
  49. Watching cartoons and kid movies.
  50. Just the thought that good things, amazing people, and happy moments are coming my way makes me so happy and excited!

When I look back, I’ve gone through a lot in the last decade.

Dealing with betrayal from those close to me, good friends moving away, getting into a car accident that changed how I maintain my health, and getting sick for the first time in 15 years is a lot to take in.

On top of all that, for the last several weeks, I’ve been wondering why my energy and enthusiasm is lower than usual. Is it because of social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram that has sucked the fun out of sharing my life and building my brand that it has somewhat affected me? Or is it because I’m not getting enough sleep and my physically being tired has to do with my motivation levels? Or maybe it’s the fact that I have reached a point where I’m questioning what I’m chasing? More on this later.

Whatever it is and despite everything I’ve been through, the important thing is that I’m still standing. 

And I’m still fighting.

I firmly believe that reflecting on things that make you smile and filled with joy helps you through the hard times. I’m not saying we should ignore or dismiss the negatives life throws at us. However, I feel like we can face the difficulties in life by remembering and surrounding ourselves with things that make our hearts so happy, it feels like it’s about to burst.

What’s on YOUR Things That Make Me Happy list?


Huong By Huong
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