5 Little Things Making Me Happy Right Now

Most of the time when I think about happiness, it’s on a macro scale. Explaining its causes feels either unattainably philosophical—something Greek guys in flowy tunics debated back in the BCs—or frustratingly subjective—something hipsters in tight pants concluded in a coffee shop five minutes ago.

5 Little Things Making Me Happy Right Now. Simple things you can change to add more happiness to your life! — wellplated.com | @wellplated

When I step back to look at the big macro picture, I am happy. I have been blessed by loving relationships, a job about which I am passionate, and my health, among many other things. Yet, if a mysterious wise woman appeared to me in the mist (or even if a young, semi-intelligent one rang my doorbell) and whispered, “Erin, do you want to know the secret to happiness?” I’d respond with, “YES, PLEASE TELL ME NOW!”

If you were hoping this post was going to somehow involve an actual wise woman giving away actual secrets to happiness, I’m sorry to disappoint you. My weekend was not that exciting.

This is not a macro-level post about big-picture happiness. It’s a micro-level post about boring, day-to-day, sitting-at-a-desk happiness, which I am willing to argue is just as important. A lot of the larger, macro happiness factors are either out of our control or things we can’t immediately change. The smaller, day-to-day stuff? We have the power to change those right away.

The below are five little things I’ve changed that immediately brightened my every day. Some of them are probably silly, but they really have made me happier. None are fancy; all are attainable. I hope just one item on this list will brighten your day too!

5 Little Things Making Me Happy Right Now

1. My house smelling delicious.

5 Secrets to Happiness

It might sound crazy, but ever since I splurged on this candle last year (which, by the way, will make your entire home smell like an Anthropologie), I’ve been far more attuned to the positive lift that a pleasantly scented environment brings. When I’m working from home, I light a candle at my desk. This is my latest favorite. It’s a little pricey but the smell is ultra energizing, and it’s slow burning, so it lasts.

This is probably a warning sign that I’m turning into my mother, but I also love making our house smell super fresh right before guests come over. It’s instantly welcoming, and someone almost always compliments me on it. This is my secret weapon (a quick spritz through the house and everything smells mysteriously fresh and lovely), and this is my favorite scented plug-in. I put one in our guest bathroom; the scent is adjustable, so I turn it up a little before guests arrive.


2. Avoiding gossip.

5 little things you can do to be happier - Avoid gossip

Gossiping (and talking negatively about people in general) is one of those things that can feel so satisfying in the moment, especially when any of the following apply:

a) It’s true.

b) It’s about someone for whom you don’t have a lot of respect, and

c) There’s a good reason(s) that you don’t respect him/her.

But here’s what I’ve found—gossip and negative talk in general is like eating three Krispy Kreme donuts in a row. They taste so good and so satisfying in the moment. Five minutes later? ICK.

Maybe there have been a few times when I’ve spoken negatively about someone that really did leave me feeling better or more whole, but as I type this, I can’t think of a single one. Biting my tongue (or stopping my fingers from texting), taking a deep breath, and waiting five minutes to let the desire pass? I feel happier every single time.


3. The one-minute rule.

5 little things you can do to be happier - the one-minute rule

I owe this one to Gretchen Rubin, whose book The Happiness Project first inspired me to explore the small, actionable changes I could make in my daily life to feel happier. One idea that has stuck with me years after reading it is her “one-minute rule.” If there is a task around the house that can be completed in less than one minute, do it immediately. That pair of dirty socks on the floor that you’ve been giving the stink eye every time you walk by? The full trash bin you keep trying to stuff down to make extra room, instead of taking it out? That two-sentence email you could fire off, if only you were in the mood? DO IT NOW. You will feel so good afterwards!

The biggest area where I’ve enacted the one-minute rule is the space just outside our basement stairs, where I pile extra pantry items that I need to take down to the storage room. I set them at the top of the staircase then…look at them. Then, I look at them again and wish they would go away. I think about taking them downstairs, then distract myself with something else. This used to continue for days because I was too lazy to walk down ONE FLIGHT of stairs. It’s sad but true. When I apply the one-minute rule, I put them away immediately, and guess what? I’m happier!


4. Ridiculously warm socks.

5 little things you can do to be happier - warm socks

Ok, maybe this is a Wisconsin-only thing, but having warm, toasty feet makes me soooooo happy. I have a few pairs of thinner (but still warm) wool ones like these that I wear when I’m out and about, as well as some of the thick and fuzzy variety like these and these that are perfect for padding around the house.

I realize that socks are one of the least-exciting things you can spend money on, but for me, they have been a life upgrade of the happiest sort and worth every penny.


5. Setting my coffee to autobrew + general breakfast prep.

Sugar Cookie Overnight Protein Oatmeal. Easy, healthy, and gluten free. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

If you were expecting an especially clever, insightful final point on this list of five, I am sorry to disappoint you. That said, the ultra-micro action of spending five extra minutes at night to prep my coffee and breakfast for the next day is having a mega (dare I say macro?) impact on my daily happiness.

Imagine waking up to hot coffee and a fresh, wholesome breakfast expertly prepared for you. Wouldn’t that start your entire day on a happy note? It certainly does for me.

Of course, the person lovingly brewing my coffee and preparing my meal happens to be moi, but first thing in the AM, I love and thank myself dearly for it. I’ve owned this coffee maker for years but never bothered to use its programmable feature, which allows me to add the coffee and water the night before, then set it to automatically brew for a certain time the next morning. I’ve started taking a few extra minutes to set it right before bed, and I can’t even tell you how wonderful it is to walk downstairs and have a fresh, hot pot ready and waiting for me.

After seeing how happy the coffee prep made me, I started seeing what other parts of my morning routine I could do in advance. Breakfast recipes that can be made ahead such as this overnight Sugar Cookie Protein Oatmeal and these Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats have become two of my personal go-tos. Reader favorites include Banana Bread Overnight Steel-Cut Oats and Freezer Breakfast Quesadillas. Even setting out my cereal bowl and spoon gives me a happy boost.

 

Happiness is…overnight oatmeal and scented candles. Aristotle said something similar, right?

What little things are making you happy lately? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

37 comments

  1. Happiness on a micro scale is elusive for me. In general, I am happy, grateful, busy. My micro list could and should include: 1) same as yours — I love a great, clean scent with hints of lavender; 2) music playing in the room I’m in — need to purchase a small, Bluetooth speaker; 3) “get my head in the game” morning routine — devotional, cinnamon tea in fav mug, review my schedule, action items bulleted, read fav blogs 🤓; 4) slow down and actually enjoy my favorite tasks; 5) intentional phone or coffee dates with friends. WOW. What a great list! Thank you for the inspiration! 

  2. This may sound silly, but on cold winter mornings when I step into the shower, I’m grateful for hot running water and indoor plumbing. Just thinking about having to go to outdoor facilities when it’s 20 degrees and dark outside would seriously hamper my happiness.

  3. I LOVE the one minute rule! I have the same problem with our steps to the basement….AND the steps going upstairs. I try to grab at least one thing every time I make a trip up or down. As a Minnesotan, I am also embracing hygge with my cozy socks and yummy candles :)

  4. This is a wonderful post! It’s refreshing and it helps others look at the big picture….how much we are blessed!

    Instead of candles, I have a diffuser on my desk and it makes me super happy! I mostly diffuse lemon and peppermint essential oils. They are uplifting and smell so refreshing!

    I too love cozy socks…I’m ALWAYS cold, lol! Thank you for this reminder:)

  5. What a great post. You are awesome Erin! :)

  6. This is such a great post! We all need the little things in our day to make us happy in addition to looking at the bigger picture to not take the big things for granted. Love the one minute rule idea (and correspondingly checking off my to do list). I’d equate checking Facebook to the Krispy Kreme donut feeling too. Little happy thing for me: doing all my dishes and picking up toys/stuff before bed so I wake up to a clean house. I’m also wanting to start a new routine of waking up before G to pray.

  7. I can’t second that having coffee waiting for me in the morning point enough! Pure happiness. I work from home and my essential oil diffuser and warm socks are also keeping me happy this winter. :)

  8. Thank you so much! It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one giving that one dirty sock the ‘stink eye’ instead of picking it up. I actually grabbed all three of those dirty socks this morning, put them in the laundry basket, and instantly felt better. Next up, programming my coffee maker.

  9. Waking to freshly brewed coffee on a cold morning is the ultimate in self-pampering!  Love your cozy socks, too! 

  10. Even though I live in the desert southwest, I love warm wool socks.  Except for the pair I bought in New Zealand last year, they are hand knit (by me) and hand knit socks make me happy.  One of my “little” things that always makes me happy is contact with nature.  We get that when we do our “work”, which is volunteer tour guiding at our local state park.   Right now one of the things that is making me happy is looking at and smelling our new leather living room furniture, and looking at all our windows which now have new blinds.  I think it’s a really good idea to become aware of what makes us happy and to focus on those things, because that really improves our quality of life.  Thank you for getting me to think about it again.

  11. Hey girl- love the list! I’m with you on the candles and socks! I love wood wick candle- biscotti ( smells so good) and I just love me some good warm socks! Everyday is a gift from God and we all need to cherish it. He loves us so much and cares about any thing that happens to us. I also have been enjoying these spring type temps here in Oklahoma! So nice! But….I am wanting a lot of snow Ha Ha

    • I wish some of your spring temps would come this way, Shawnna! But in the meantime, that biscotti candle sounds amazing. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. Yessss to the one minute rule! It’s seriously life-changing and it makes you realize that those little tasks are not as daunting as they seem. Love this post!

  13. I love this! And I am going to use the 1 minute rule 😃My list includes all the things that make me embrace my love of winter. My favorite soft blanket, sorel boots, cup of hot tea, my fireplace, morning yoga, and my one piece. Love warm socks too!

  14. I need more happy things in my life right now. Thank you for sharing your little bits of happiness <3

    Rating: 5
  15. I really like your 2 things on the list. The house smelling delicious – I love the smell of baking at my home, everything feels so joyful, like Christmas everyday 😊 Your warm socks – that’s totally me. It’s been freezing in WA all these months, every morning i wake up and first thing I do is put my warm socks on to start my day. Before it used to be coffee lol 😬

  16. That was incredible, almost eatable!!! Hummm, I think YES, coffee waiting for me…timer here I come!!!

  17. I love this post! It caught on, and I ended up sharing a post today on happiness. Five things that are making me happy at the moment are 1) breakfast and coffee with Matt every morning, 2) cuddles with our three kitties, 3) my blog and the connections it has allowed me to have, 4) looking forward to attending races with Matt starting next month, and 5) helping my twin plan her fall wedding!

  18. These are all FABULOUS ideas, Erin! I love the one minute rule, ready-and-waiting coffee in the morning and cozy socks…THOSE socks….want a pair of those! xo

  19. This is such a fun post Erin!!! Totally agree about all of these thing. My cappuccino machine brings me happiness every day (I literally look forward to making it in the morning when I go to bed, ha!) – and warm fuzzy socks are a must. Especially for us mid-westerners! ;) 

    Taking walks with my dog and hanging out with a group of neighbors in the dog park is another small thing that brings me joy! 

  20. I love this post! I agree so much with the scents, and I usually have meadows and rain in my febreeze wall plug ins, too! I’ve also been doing the coffee prep at night lately, and it helps so much! It’s so much easier to get out of bed. :) I love your one minute rule idea, and am going to try that around the house.

  21. Loved this post. These are my top 5.

    1)Always like to have breakfast and work clothes ready night before; such a relaxing start to the morning. 2) Another pleasure for me is always having flowers around the house. 3) Yet another, getting into my bed warmed by my electric blanket, the best feeling on a cold winters night. 4) Sitting in my back garden in the sun before and/or after work in the summertime with a nice cuppa. 5) Decluttering

  22. I’m thankful for the sunny days when it’s cold outside but the sun comes in my bedroom window as I lay with my newborn on my chest. It’s the point in time I’m thankful for that I can be present and not worried about the future or mistakes of the past. Just the sunshine glistening off the snow and warming our home. 

  23. What a great post Erin! Thank you for that 1 minute rule reminder and that auto button on the coffee maker, totally forgot about that..Ah and prepared breakfast!! You’re awesome!

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