A few months ago, when I was in Austin staying with Susan and Chris, I borrowed Susan’s copy of The Happiness Project. I only got about 1/3 of the way through it before I had to give it back, but it tweaked my perspective. If I want to be happier, I don’t necessarily need to make a bunch of major changes, but I do need to make small, daily changes that make my life the life I want to live.

Little things like keeping my desk tidy really improve my mood, but you know what else works? Making a point to recognize the things that make me happy. I’ve been doing that, but I figured, if it works this well when I just acknowledge these things (both little and big) to myself, how amazing will it feel to share? Let’s find out, shall we?

1) Music in the shower. When I was a kid, I never took a shower without music. I lugged my big ol’ boombox into the bathroom with me, turned it up, and jammed out. I loved it. So, I’ve started playing music while I’m showering and getting ready, and you know what? I still love it. And it’s a lot easier now that my phone has a boombox in it.

2) Funky little beach places. I love being near the ocean, and while staying in fancy schmancy places (we stayed a night at the Ritz Carlton in Palm Beach last fall), I’m a real sucker for the little individually owned condos. They might not be fancy or offer great amenities or swanky bath products, but we’re staying in one right now during our work-cation in Siesta Key, and get this: Yesterday, I asked the woman in the office if she knew of a walk-in clinic nearby because Jared has been fighting a cough and I was concerned (he went, got meds, and he’s fine, BTW). Today, the office called me to make sure we’d found it and he was OK. I mean, how many big hotels offer that kind of service? I mean, sure, maybe the Ritz, but it also costs about 6x as much to stay there, so … yeah.

3) Saying hello. On our last work-cation, we stayed a couple of nights in Daytona Beach and spent a lot of time at a bar just down the beach from our hotel. One night, they had karaoke, and this old man sang, and he was good. He walked outside and we offered him a seat at our table — his name was Larry, we ended up talking for probably 45 minutes, and he had the most fascinating stories about being in the service with Glenn Miller, writing songs for Perry Como, riding the rails (illegally) for a year, working on cruise ships and buying a Ferrari and Ducati at the age of 90 (and then promptly selling them after racking up $5000 in speeding fines). You never know who you’re going to meet.

4) Thoughtful comments. I’ve had so many amazing conversations with people about this post — there were several great comments on the post itself, and then I had quite a few people email me or talk to me in person about it. And the kind words and advice on this post have been helpful, too. Of course, ever since I wrote that, Hollie has been doing great, so go figure.

5) Family. At the risk of sounding super cheesy, I feel like really have to mention that my family really does make me happy. Obviously, Jared is a huge part of that — what’s not to adore about a husband who doesn’t balk when I ask for his opinion on what nail polish I should wear? (I mean, sure, he doesn’t actually care, but he acts like he does because it’s important to me.) I get along wonderfully with all of his family, which I know is rare.

And then, you have my parents. My parents who are honestly (I think) happy to drive 90 minutes to our house to watch the dogs while we go off gallivanting to god-knows-where for a few days. My parents who get flustered every time I leave a few bucks for them to grab dinner (because, you know, they drove 90 minutes to our house so we could go away). I mean, just this morning, my dad spent a good 45 minutes searching through things in my (neat, but still not totally organized) desk because I didn’t have an email address I needed and didn’t bring the business card with me. My parents who will celebrate 40 years of marriage on Sunday. Whew.

6) Generous people. As many of you already know, there was a robbery at Puppy Hill Farm’s new facility a couple of weeks ago — $6000 worth of air conditioning equipment was stolen. And, for a rescue like PHF, that’s like a million dollars, you know? But the community has really stepped up and made some serious donations. We don’t have the entire amount made up yet, but between a few really large donations and lots and lots of smaller ones, we’re getting there.

7) Being able. I’ve done a couple of things for That’s Fit lately that have really made me think. I interviewed SELF Magazine’s editor, Lucy Danziger (she’s CRAZY fit), and she really emphasized the importance of appreciating the fact that you CAN work out, which I’ve kept in mind every time the going has gotten tough. Yes, running an extra mile is a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’m pretty damn fortunate to be able to take on. And then, I did a really strict diet for a week. It was not easy, but I was totally able to handle it — I saw it through to the end, which felt great in and of itself. Right now, I’m reviewing a ridiculously difficult workout program. It’s super hard, but guess what. I can do it. Awesome.

There are a thousand things I’ll think of to add to this as soon as I hit publish, I have no doubt, so I’ll probably give you another list before you know it. In the meantime, I’d love to hear what’s making you happy lately!