Lists & Small Joys

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I sat on my couch last Sunday night and – as I do every Sunday night – stared at the week I’d anally planned ahead in my notebook, down to each 20 minute interval of time. If there’s one thing that assuages my anxiety (temporarily, at least) it’s writing lists and schedules. Something about seeing everything I have to do written out – instead of floating about, untamed, in my brain – makes it seem more manageable. The simple act of putting each item down on paper transforms my thought process from “OMGIhaveamillionthingstodonextweekit’sgoingtobesooverwhelminghowamIgoingtogetitalldone” to “Ok, I have lots to do, but I can tackle everything day by day, hour by hour, line by line, and it will get done.”

(That’s that only advice I’ve got, folks: a list on a piece of paper. That’s my best trick; my “life hack”; the sagacious culmination of 27 years of life experience.)

The most interesting thing to note about this list, however, is that most of the time I never reference it the following week! Just the knowledge that it’s there, sitting in my notebook in case of emergency – in case I need to consult my “master plan” – is all I need to remind myself, “Hey! You can do it! One line at a time!”

 


 

But what about the hours during those busy days, when I’m rushing from meeting to meeting and trying to send emails and dial in to calls on both ways of my commute, and all I can think to myself is, “I’m stressed” or “This stinks” or “I could really use a nap” or “I wish I were [insert something I enjoy here].”

It’s during those times, when I wish so badly I were doing something else – napping, riding my bike, playing squash, hanging out with friends, reading, hiking, eating at my favorite pizza place – that I try harder to find small moments of joy. Just because I don’t have time for “big” sources of joy (a hike, a meal with friends) doesn’t mean I can’t experience any! There are so many small joys to be noticed, I just have to look for them a little harder…

 


 

Because I’m starting to sound preachy – trust me, I am not anywhere close to having anything about life figured out – I want instead to share some of my “small joys” from the past week. All of these pictures were taken at times during which I was otherwise stressed or preoccupied (commutes, running errands, etc.) but in which I was able to find joy…

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This sign outside of a store in the Mission which validated my preferred M.O. (turns out I’ve been an advocate for sustainability my whole life!)
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These trees, whose wonderful scent hit me as soon as I turned the corner onto this block, against the unusual clouds
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This little piece of art that reminded me there’s good in the world
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These men who looked so peaceful and wise as they enjoyed morning coffee and donuts in Chinatown
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The contrast between these deep pink flowers and the blue sky
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This man painting on Valencia St. as I walked home from BART

Here’s to hoping this next week brings you many small joys, and the perceptiveness to find them.

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