Drop Something

September 28, 2018

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

“Be like a tree and let the dead leaves drop.”


Choosing the Positive

September 24, 2018

“I believe happiness is a choice. Some days it is a very difficult choice.”
—Steve Gleason
I just posted some pretty pictures on Instagram from a walk I took with Luna last week. Instead of sharing the photo of the Big Gulp cup floating in the pond, I shared the photo of the egret. Instead of the dead palmetto fronds, I posted a photo of Luna on her leash. I edited the walk to share only the most attractive sights.

If you look at my Instagram feed, you’ll see it consists of 99.9% pretty or happy things. That’s not because my life doesn’t have its unbeautiful moments, or because I’m trying to project an image of “perfection.” I guarantee you would find many messes in my house, yard, and mind were you to pop in unannounced.

On Instagram and on Catching Happiness, I choose to focus on and share the positive, the beautiful, the uplifting—the simple pleasures and everyday adventures of this blog’s tagline. I don’t believe you, Gentle Reader, come to a blog named Catching Happiness to ponder the scandal or atrocity du jour.

So even though life isn’t perfect, or unfailingly lovely, I will continue to actively look for and share the moments and things that are lovely, because lucky for me (us) there are many to be found.

This is my choice, one I make again and again. And yours, too, if you continue to visit Catching Happiness, which I very much hope you do!

We often can’t help what’s happening to us and around us. We can, however, choose what we focus on, what we emphasize, what we think about most often. As Steve Gleason said, sometimes it’s a difficult choice, but I’m making it.

How about you? 

Chris Bailey

Happiness Is a Team Sport

September 21, 2018

Photo courtesy Rhythm_In_Life via Pixabay

At work, at home, and everywhere else, our happiness, productivity, and success is intertwined with the happiness, productivity, and success of the people surrounding us. If you think it isn’t, you’re not living up to your full potential.
—Chris Bailey, “I’m One of the Laziest People You’ll Ever Meet—and That’s What Drives My Productivity,” gretchenrubin.com

Armchair travel

J’aime Les Livres Sur Paris*

September 17, 2018

Photo courtesy Sierra Maciorowski via Pixabay

For the past six months or more, I’ve been reading Paris…novels set in Paris, collections of essays and excerpts from larger works on Paris, guidebooks about Paris…

Did I mention, I’m going to Paris?

If you’re going to Paris, too, or even if your travel is of the armchair variety, here are a few of the most interesting livres I’ve come across:


Paris By the Book, Liam Callanan. This was one of my favorites, though it got mixed reviews on Amazon. Protagonist Leah moves with her two daughters to Paris after her “eccentric novelist” husband vanishes, leaving behind plane tickets for Paris hidden in an unexpected place. When Leah discovers an unfinished manuscript her husband was writing, set in Paris, she and her girls “follow the path of the manuscript to a small, floundering English-language bookstore whose weary proprietor is eager to sell.” (Amazon) Books, exploring Paris, a little mystery (Is Leah’s husband dead or alive?)—I found it delightful.

13, Rue Therese, Elena Mauli Shapiro. Another intriguing story, following American academic Trevor Stratton as he sifts through a box of artifacts from World War I related to the life of Frenchwoman Louise Brunet. As he imagines what her life was like, he begins to fall in love with his alluring French clerk, Josianne.

The Light of Paris, Eleanor Brown. The intertwining stories of Madeleine, trapped in an unhappy marriage and reconnecting with her own essential self and Madeleine’s grandmother, Maggie, whose youthful diary Madeleine discovers reveals a completely different woman than she remembers.

The Little Paris Book Shop, Nina George. Monsieur Perdu prescribes novels for the hardships of life from his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine. I’m possibly the last person alive to read this, but I picked up a copy at my library’s used bookstore for a dollar last week.

Hunting and Gathering, Ana Gavalda. “A winning portrait of a group of misfits who band together to form their own family,” according to Booklist. This sounds so good to me, I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I leave. 

Paris: The Novel, Edward Rutherfurd. I’ve never read anything by Edward Rutherford, but several family members have recommended him, so I loaded this chunky historical novel onto my Kindle to take with me. Gotta have something to read on those long plane rides.


A Paris All Your Own, edited by Eleanor Brown. All-new Paris-themed essays written by best-selling writers of women’s fiction. Not only did I enjoy the essays, I added a number of books to my TBR list while reading this.

A Paris Year, Janie MacLeod. I reread this (I wrote about it here) and jotted a few notes. 

Paris in Stride: An Insider’s Walking Guide, Jesse Kanelos Weiner and Sarah Moroz. I’m probably taking this one with me—not only for the recommendations, but for the inspiration of the charming watercolor illustration.

Paris in Mind, edited by Jennifer Lee. I’m reading this right now. Excerpts from writings by everyone Thomas Jefferson, Sylvia Beach (who writes about opening the Shakespeare and Company bookstore), Ernest Hemingway, Langston Hughes, David Sedaris, Dave Barry, and many more.

How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, Joan DeJean. Notably, I haven’t read anything about the history of Paris, so I put this book on my TBR list. Likely won’t get to it before I leave, but there’s plenty of time to read when I get home.

The Flaneur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris, by Edmund White is another for the TBR list. “A collection of impressions” (Publisher’s Weekly), it sounds intriguing.

When I type “Paris” into Amazon’s search bar, it returns 50,000 results, so I know I’ve just barely scratched the surface of Paris-themed books! Which of your favorites did I leave out? Please share in the comments!

*“I love books about Paris”


Happiness Is Earned Interest

September 14, 2018

Puppyhood: this too shall pass and this too is good

“The discipline of joy requires holding in the mind simultaneously
 that this too shall pass and that this too is good. This alchemy of mind isn’t easy, but the good life is not always the easy life. Happiness requires effort. It is not just bestowed; 
it is the earned interest on what you choose to pay in.”


The Simple Pleasure of Anticipation

September 10, 2018

Photo by Amelia Bartlett on Unsplash

“‘What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?’
“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”
—A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

I believe the word Pooh was looking for was Anticipation.

Anticipation is that pleasant, tingly feeling we get when we’re looking forward to something in the future. It’s worry’s much happier cousin.

I wrote briefly about the importance of anticipation in my August Happy Little Thoughts newsletter, but it deserves more page time.  (Not a subscriber to Happy Little Thoughts? Become one here. I’ll never sell or share your email with anyone else, and you can unsubscribe at any time.  Happy Little Thoughts comes out once a month, and it will give you something else to anticipate…)

Waiting makes the thing anticipated more valuable. How much more do we appreciate a purchase if we save up and pay cash rather than buy on credit? I still fondly remember the first thing I ever saved my allowance for as a child: a little gold alarm clock with rhinestones surrounding the face, just like the one my best friend had.

Delaying gratification can draw out the pleasure of things we enjoy. Instead of an “on demand” mindset of instant gratification, why not wait? Why not watch one episode of Stranger Things at a time, rather than streaming the entire second season in one weekend? (I may be speaking from personal experience here.)

Scheduling and planning ahead for simple pleasures and everyday adventures rather than just waiting for them to fall into our laps also gives us the chance to anticipate the happy event beforehand. When we buy tickets for a movie this weekend, or a concert in November, we give ourselves time to look forward to pleasurable experiences.

And when we anticipate an event or experience in the future, we have time to deepen our enjoyment by preparing for it. When we anticipate a vacation, we can add to our enjoyment by reading up on the area we’re visiting, researching the cuisine, or practicing the local language if it’s not our own. 

Consciously looking forward to something and preparing for it—whether it’s an experience, event, or purchase—can be a simple pleasure all its own. Cultivate anticipation by deliberately delaying a pleasure, by looking ahead to pleasures to come, or by taking steps ahead of time that you know will deepen your pleasurable experience.

What are you anticipating? How can you better savor that delicious feeling?


Happy Out, Happy In

September 07, 2018

Photo by Maria Shanina on Unsplash

“If we want a joyous life, we must think joyous thoughts. If we want a prosperous life, we must think prosperous thoughts. If we want a loving life, we must think loving thoughts. Whatever we send out mentally or verbally will come back to us in like form.”
—Louise L. Hay, You Can Heal Your Life

New Year

Summer Rerun--September Is the New January

September 03, 2018

Photo courtesy Candace Penney
Now and then I dip into the Catching Happiness archives and share a post from the past. Even though this one was written in 2013, I’m still doing some of the same things, including purging my house, getting excited about fall, and planning another anniversary trip, this time to commemorate our 30th anniversary! Apparently, some things never change.

Is it just me, or does September feel like a new beginning? Most of my life I’ve treated September the way most people treat January: as a new year. Even before I had a child going back to school or lived in Florida where the promise of the occasional cooler, drier day bumps up my energy, I reevaluated my life in the fall. My birthday is in September, so I think that adds to the “new start” feeling since like most of us I become more introspective around birthdays.

I’ve thought about starting my own Happiness Project, like Gretchen Rubin has written about in the book of the same name, and its follow-up Happier at Home (where the title of this blog post came from). I even began listing areas I’d like to focus on, but decided I’m not ready to attack things I want to change or enhance in quite that fashion. Planning all those months in advance felt too overwhelming to me. Instead, I decided to take baby steps and do some very simple things to get my new year off to a good start:

First, I’m keeping a time log this week to see where I’m spending my time. (I’m using this one.) From there, I hope to come up with a flexible schedule so I can get the important things done while still having time to play.

My weight has become a concern again, so I’m tweaking my eating and fitness routines to combat those creeping pounds.

I’m making plans for fun by figuring out the details of our postponed anniversary trip and scheduling some upcoming Field Trip Fridays.

I’m purging—the freezer, my closet, my file cabinet. I’m always battling stuff!

Even though it’s still blazingly hot here and it doesn’t feel like fall yet, I’m starting to feel more energetic, more likely to make some changes and explore new avenues. I’m ready to savor simple pleasures and take part in everyday adventures. Even though the calendar says September and not January, I’m ready for a new year!

Do you make any special plans in September? Are there any other times of year you evaluate life, set goals or take up challenges?