I was spawned by list makers. My mother made grocery lists, task lists, correspondence lists, and gratitude lists. My father, an elementary school teacher, made lists of students who needed individualized attention. He made lists of household chores. He kept lists of conversational topics he wanted to bring up with his kids and, later, lists of things to do with his grandchildren . When he got older he used to write “Hello Earl” at the top of his lists. As he pointed out, lists were a way of talking to his future self so he might as well say “hi.”
I’m convinced we can use out-of-the-ordinary lists to enhance our lives. I have all sorts of suggestions to create Life Lists unique to us and I’m following through on a few goals on my Delights To Cultivate list.
Recently I heard about Bit of Joy lists. These are lists to post somewhere in view. Maybe on the fridge door. Maybe as a screen saver. That way whenever a bit of time opens up we’re prompted to devote it to something we find wonderful rather than whatever has become our default activities (ahem, like checking our phones).
How to consciously savor life’s random free moments? Hmmm. I wrote down some thoughts and asked friends what they’d include. (Friend’s names appear with their suggestions.) As I scribble down these ideas I wonder why oh why don’t I let myself do these things more often? That’s exactly how a Bits of Joy list can be so useful. What would you put on your list?
When You Have Five Minutes
Go outside. Take some deep breaths, look at the sky, notice sounds. Unpleasant weather? Do it anyway.
Balance on one foot, then the other, in an impromptu tree pose.
Hug someone I adore.
Indulge in the reverie kids know as “pretending.”
Donate to a good cause.
Smile at someone for all of the following reasons.
Read just one poem (perhaps “I Confess” by Alison Luterman). This is a very good reason to keep poetry books nearby and to bookmark poetry sites.
Contemplate my blessings.
Make plans to do something with someone dear to me.
Hug a tree.
Sing. Made up lyrics a plus.
Dance, especially to the music stuck in my head.
Click over to Light Weaver for interactive mandalas plus music.
Meditate or (as I practice it, sit quietly and hope this has some meditative effect).
Make a good cup of coffee in my favorite mug. Jaylen
Try some laughter yoga with whatever co-workers are in the break room. Jaylen
Water some houseplants and thank them for being part of the family. Margaret
Grab an art book off the shelf and look at beautiful art for a few minutes. Margaret
Watch birds at the feeder. Yesterday I happened to see Mr. Redbird offer seed, beak to beak, to Mrs. Redbird. That’s as good as it gets. Kim Langley
Daydream for a solid 5 minutes. Valli Spahn
When You Have A Half Hour
Take a walk, which may be the best problem-solving method around.
Read a book on the porch.
Clean out a drawer. Very small increments of de-cluttering are allegedly fun.
Play the piano (which I never do, but tell myself I will).
Write an actual written-on-paper letter to a friend. Or mail something weirder.
Get out some paints, pastels, markers, or colored pencils; put on some music; then play with colors and shapes and see what happens. Margaret
Let myself get into a cookbook with good pictures. I can practically taste the recipes as I flip through envisioning meals we’ll make and parties we’ll throw. Jayden
Make a batch of cookies or some other treat. Jayden
Watch someone do something in a masterful way. Creativity exercised often fills me with elation.. I can feel my heart open up in the presence of creativity. Kim Langley
Write a poem. Craig Fawcett
Look at old pictures. Craig Fawcett
Contact someone I’ve been thinking about or need to think about. Craig Fawcett
Sit under a tree. Craig Fawcett
When You Have An Afternoon
Go outside with a notebook and good pen, sit somewhere lovely, and write.
Play a game new to me from Bernie DeKoven’s master list of games.
Do one of the hundreds of projects I’ve saved on Pinterest.
Wander through shops that entice me. I’m not a shopper. I run to the market, grab what we need, and get out. I haven’t been to a mall in over a decade. But there are places that entice me. I know of a dollhouse shop about 40 minutes from here where I’d love to linger. (I’ve nearly convinced my husband to cut a hole in the wall and install a dollhouse-sized door and window, into which I can arrange a miniature scene. This WILL happen.) I love art galleries, import shops, odd niche stores, and of course bookstores.
Go to an art museum. My favorite see-it-in-an-afternoon museum is Oberlin’s Allen Memorial Art Museum.
Attend a noontime concert. Many of these are free and hosted in beautiful old churches.
Do errands, repairs, or other small-tokens-of-love acts for my daughters. Craig Fawcett
Head to the beach. Find treasures (rocks, shells, fossils, beach glass) and admire the ever-changing views Margaret
Get a massage. Jayden
Pack a picnic (or pick up tasties) and eat outdoors, which I love and wonder why I haven’t done it for years. Jayden
Thanks to Kim Langley, Craig Fawcett, Margaret Swift, Valli Spahn, and Jaylen Jacobs for adding their joys.