18 Little Reasons to Smile

I know I'm not the first person to have this realization, but life can be really hard sometimes. Like world turned upside down, backwards and through-a-blender kinda hard. Shit happens and it can feel impossible to trudge through the storm.  People often experience rough patches in their lives: a week, a month, a year, or just a few hours that seem like a painful eternity.  Spoiler alert: it's normal.

To divulge a bit, the last nine months of my life have been, without question, the absolute roughest of my 27 years.  I've had countless break downs, multiple anxiety attacks, dozens of heart-to-hearts, and several epiphanies.  My step dad exposed that he's been having an affair for the past three years; my mom is filing for divorce; I met my biological dad for the first time; had my heart broken; worked two full time jobs to get back on my feet; and, for the first time, experienced a deep depression I've never otherwise seen in myself.

Woah, that escalated quickly.

To be honest, I'm neither embarrassed by it nor do I want to hide the story I carry with me.  Social media can be deceptive, but we all have our own pain hidden behind the scenes.

My point is that everyone has tidal waves that crash into their lives, sometimes without warning and often when you feel least prepared.  It's those times of crisis that you actually find yourself growing more than ever and getting stronger without any choice in the matter.

Sometime during my whole mess I decided...I needed a survival plan. Fast.

I thought back to when I was in grad school in Colorado.  The #1 take-away lesson from the program, for me at least, was self-care - a concept I often used to avoid (I can be annoyingly stubborn).  When you actually indulge in some self-care, life can feel more tolerable, less painful, and actually manageable.  Aside from going to therapy, having wine dates with friends, and an occasional weekend trip out of town, I needed a daily way to take care of myself when some moments felt truly unbearable.

I started heightening my awareness to little instances & momentary observations my mind would otherwise overlook.  Moments that made me smile when all I wanted to do was cry.

I kept a running log in my phone of things throughout the day that could be considered “little victories” or things that make you smile without even realizing it.  I asked a few of my coworkers at the hospital where I worked to help me with my list.  It became a frequent blurting out of “Oh, Kelsey, add this to your list…”  That in itself made me smile.  People started looking for special & funny moments in their day, somehow turning it into a microscopic social experiment.

Before I knew it, the list was long and the moments were more frequent.  I told my best friend about this concept to which she replied, "I think you just figured out mindfulness."

Here are some of my favorites on the list we created (in no particular order):

1. When you call someone and they answer the phone laughing before they even say, “Hello.”  Whatever is making them giggle on the other end tends to have a contagious effect.

2. Pull-through parking spaces and/or meters that still have money in them from a previously parked car.  Tell me that doesn't feel like a little life win.

3. Telling a good joke, delivering it perfectly and getting a satisfying response from your audience.  Feels so good to nail the punch line (I reaaaaally suck at telling jokes/stories, so it's particularly satisfying when I don't butcher the delivery).

4. When you're offered a larger sized drink than you paid for or expected: coffee, cocktail, etc.. and the extra drinkage is on the house.

5. Giving or receiving a genuine compliment from a stranger in passing -- No ulterior motives or desire for something in return.

6. When you accidentally dress exactly like someone you work with or meet up with…the whole: Oh-yeah-we-called-each-other-this-morning-and-planned-our-outfits exchange.

7. When you overhear someone else's cheerful banter (a family joking together in a grocery store or a older couple sitting next to you at the airport, for example) and you can't help but let a grin curl onto your face.

8. Catching a baby smiling to themselves when they're sleeping soundly.

9. When you're alone and a funny coincidence happens around you or to you, but no one else in the vicinity could possibly understand you so you just laugh to yourself.

10. When you see someone trip or fall, but they recover gracefully (which is never the case for me) or just crack up at themselves (usually the case for me).

11. Being offered a mint or piece of gum by a stranger. "Everyone likes the guy who offers them a piece of gum, " - Michael Scott.

12. When someone has a resting "stink face," but you speak to them and they're surprisingly very kind.

13. Over hearing a very humbling statement from a passerby: “Back when I was homeless…” (I overheard from a man during work one day at the hospital). Really reminds you of how lucky you are that those words have never come out of your own mouth. Or, if they have, feeling the compassion for the common hardship you & that person endured.

14. When you’re set up for the perfect “That’s what she said” joke.  We may have to act like adults most of the time, but we don't need to always be grown ups.

15. Getting to a restaurant, being told it will be a 20-30 minute wait, but being sat right away because something became available unexpectedly.

16. When you have a moment with a stranger in the bathroom (I imagine this mostly happens in women’s restrooms): helping to fix a shirt, make-up adjustment, passing toilet paper to another stall, laughing about how loud the music is… you walk out feeling like you just made a new friend.



17. Accidentally getting more gas/petrol than you paid for, especially when the clerk doesn’t care and lets you go for free.

18. Out of the blue being invited to an event/show/exhibit that day or night.  Being able to adjust your plans and ending up having the most epic, impromptu adventure. It's always great when someone's calls you up and says, "Hey, not sure what you're doing tonight, but I have an extra ticket to...."

Feel free to add any smile-worthy moments of your own in the comment section below.  It sounds super cheesy, but I highly encourage taking note of tiny instances that give you a subconscious pep in your step.  Acknowledging the universe's little tricks makes me feel more appreciative and adds positivity to my world, especially when everything seems like it's crumbling inside.  "Give people high fives just for getting out of bed in the morning, being a person is hard sometimes" - Kid President.