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Raindrops on roses
(and other small joys worth chronicling)
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens … these are a few of my favorite things.”
These immortal lyrics, sung by Maria von Trapp in The Sound of Music, remind us that in our fast-paced world, we often look past the simple joys that can make us feel really good — and even physically improve our health.
Jodee Ann Kozlak is a Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute 2019-19 Fellow and senior vice president of human resources at Alibaba Group. In the WELLNESS 111: Exploring Happiness class at Stanford, Jodee was reminded of her life’s simple joys by keeping a gratitude journal. We’re fortunate she is allowing us to share some of them: from sugar pinecones to Jackson 5 music to red rasberries, see how Jodee’s list of simple joys compares to yours. (Following the joys, see the “aha moments” she wrote about following her class attendance and readings: wonderful thoughts on how to be real, yet still be able to see the glass half full.)
Life’s simple joys: A gratitude journal
Alive, beautiful, distorted and majestic: these reflect Nature’s grandeur and I am so happy to have a tree that drops these beauties in my yard. They seem to be wisdom falling to earth and scattered around me, reminding me that I am part of something bigger.
Crayola blue bky
The piercing blue sky today is remarkable. It represents energy, potential.
I am thankful for my warm and cuddly blanket that wraps me and holds me safe. It provides security, relaxation, and trust. I always feel comfort when I touch this.
Pure joy in my movement, and instead of feeling guilty about not going for a while, I just delight in the fact that I was there. So happy to be touching my toes and breathing.
Jackson 5 music
Stands the test of time and I enjoy the energy and beat. It brings me back to my youth and dancing in my driveway with Joan Gregg. I am really happy when I jive to “ABC.”
What a great and all-purpose food. Elegant and clean fuel for my body and brain. Complex plant with goodness throughout and a beautiful design. I am thankful for the farmers and others who are part of the food chain that brings this to me.
Fragile but resilient and stubborn. I am happy to be spending time with her and to help make her day special. She is so proud of her children and grandchildren and made it through year one as a widow. I realize that her stubbornness has served her well during this time and I stop to appreciate it.
Brilliant and bold and stable. I love this lake, and am filled with joy to share it with my mom and sisters. The lake has unhidden depths and each of us is touched by the parallels between what the lake has to offer and how it has endured with our own journey this past year.
My loving puppy that is so innocent and clueless and just happy in the moment. I am so glad that I brought Belle with us to Tahoe; she can be a great diversion and just pure enjoyment and playfulness.
Small towns along the Gold Rush route
I am thankful for these communities which provide the fiber for so many people. There is beauty in the tight-knit groups of neighbors relying on each other for livelihood; they have a collective soul.
Crisp morning air
It was fabulous to breathe in the fall air today. I loved how invigorating it was and felt totally alive. Energy and vitality abounds around me and within me.
Apples remind me of family and multi-generational activities. Happiness and helping to shepherd in a new season of weather, emotion and activity.
I want to find a positive take on this and am therefore grateful that Nick got a decent night’s sleep. He really needed it. And hearing him next to me was a reminder of him in my life and how much I love him.
New toothpaste tube
The first squirt is remarkable and creating a dent in the toothpaste tube is like marking territory. The gel comes out smoothly and in perfect proportion. It felt great to brush my teeth today.
Biking to school
Slowly getting on the bike and then peddling more quickly as the surface becomes flat and smooth. The air rushing through me and no cares in the world except intermittent traffic. What a perfect way to get from one place to another and do it in a kind way for the environment.
Nicole coming for dinner
I am so lucky to be on the way home for Colie so she can drop by. I am so excited to catch up on her life this past week and understand how she is really feeling about things. I am grateful that I can put everything else aside tonight and be present with her, and really listen and be curious with no judgment.
Juicy, fresh and filled with savour. They explode in my mouth and I want to laugh.
These are the most stunningly beautiful plants to me. They bring me great joy to smell and view. Round, robust, and hearty flowers with space between the buds, but also a heaviness to them that I can relate to. They seem to greet me as I pass by and wish me well in sincerity.
I am so thankful for this group of supportive individuals. We just did a two-day Design Your Life workshop which was emotionally exhausting, but so effective in terms of helping to see the path forward this year. The variation of personalities and insights in this group is amazing, but the universal desire to be there for each other is extremely powerful. I am grateful and excited for these relationships to continue growing.
What a cool person, and it was a gift to have him lead the Design exercise. I am happy to have experienced his design your life process with my husband. I am grateful to be able to incorporate this into our life and move forward in exploration mode.
Totem pole outside of Crown building
Majestic, poised and animated. This is such a spectacular piece with depth, texture and whimsy. I am happy to sit beside it and breath and meditate for 10 minutes, with much more clarity than other efforts. A very good location for me!
Jodee’s “aha moments” from the readings and class
- My well-being is a skill, a capability that I can acquire with practice.
- I can create a preference for a Positive Bias and rewire my brain that way.
- Gratitude practice is such an upper!
- Self-compassion vs. self-esteem: Rejoice in the collective frailty of being human and allowing myself to be imperfect. There is no shame or guilt in that. It feels wonderfully freeing to love myself as I am and just happy to be alive. No need to be perfect, and no need to have dysfunctional prompts happen in my mind that take me down a negative path. I can reframe how I look at myself and others through awareness and practice. Pausing will be important as I pay attention to the voice inside my head that is way too hard on me and sometimes others who I love.
- Cognitive distortions are a choice. I do not need to fall into these traps. I am going to change the pattern going forward and tell myself new stories. Negative mental fillers were my trap and I need not allow them to control me and my thoughts. I will invite growth through allowing recognition of snap thoughts and judgments, pausing to acknowledge them and then choosing a different path forward.
- Emotion words vs. feeling words: I describe how I am as “fine,” “well,” “great,” etc. but I do not pause and reflect on how I really am feeling at that time. I want to be able to respond in a more authentic and human way, and also listen with that empathy when I ask others how they are.
- I want a life coach to enhance my ability to be happy in my choices, and bring presence and mindfulness more into my life and be comfortable with who I am. I need to get done with having an “elevator speech” about what I do, or have done, and just be great being me as I now exist.
- I think way too much and let myself feel way too little.
- SIFT (Sensations, Images, Feelings and Thoughts): When I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with my reptilian mind racing, I practiced this and focused on sounds. It really helped calm my mind and put things back into place so that I could return to sleep. A nice way to tame the beasts.