When I was young, I collected tiny, shiny things. Inside a small wooden music box, I kept a random array of little treasures: a black sequin that fell from my mom's dress, a stray Christmas light that wedged itself into the carpet, a silver button that probably belonged to someone's sweater. There were earring backs and broken thumbtacks and colorful strands of thread. I remember putting in a birthday candle and a blue eraser, and a small piece of plastic I grabbed only because it was gold.
I sought out small tokens of joy, little slices of light and color. It's not that I did anything with them, really. Every once in a while, I'd open the lid to survey my stock, pulling each tiny, forgotten thing from the box and arranging them on the white windowsill in my bedroom just so. Then I'd put all the gleaming, vibrant gems of garbage back into my music-turned-treasure box.
(Maybe I kept small pictures of JTT and Zack Morris in there, too, but that's not the point.)
The point is that I actively, purposefully searched for beautiful, charming things to pocket. When I was young, I looked for little slivers of joy to call my own — and I still do. In a different way, I still do, because more and more I've come to understand my own responsibility in finding joy. I understand happiness as a choice, and how happiness comes from making choices.
Recently, I was having a not-good day. A day of spilled coffee, sad news, and some truly unfortunate timing. I could tell early on that something within me wanted to wallow in the gloom, and as I pulled into our driveway, I had every intention of crawling under the covers and turning up my melancholy, rainy-day playlist.
A stripe of sunlight stopped me, though. It was shimmering across our bed, the room all aglow in that mid-spring sort of light, and I thought, A cup of tea, Laura. A candle and a cup of tea.
I lit my favorite candle, brewed a cup of my favorite tea. I opened up one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, and I went straight to my favorite chapter, rereading my favorite lines. When I was finished, I picked up the phone and called Meg, and I told her what I was doing, why I was calling, what I know to be true: happiness is a practice. A collection of tiny, shiny things in our everyday that make it feel just a little bit like magic — like something we should treasure.
(Photo: Our living room, where the golden light gets me every time.)