I'm Not Counting My Happy Moments, I'm Making Them Count

I'm Not Counting My Happy Moments, I'm Making Them Count

Make your own "Happiness Jar."


I am thirteen years old, blasting Taylor Swift in the background while scrolling through Pinterest to look for some DIY crafts to work on. Cringe? I know. As I scroll through my feed, I start saving a bunch of cute ideas I know I probably would not get to (in fact, I never looked at them again). Soon enough, something ended up catching my eye. Rather than finishing a small craft that day, I began a year-long project that I still incorporate in my life.

Ever wish life were as simple as it was back then when you were a wee little toddler, not giving a single worry to the world? As a kid, I just worried about how I could get my mom's phone book down the toilet, how to erase all of my brother's English essays, and how much tighter I needed to grasp my dad's leg so he could carry me around as he walked. As we grow older, we actually need to become functional members of society. Our minds become more complex, and with that comes more problems we must solve, and more things to deal with. Sometimes, one small thing might end up setting us off for the rest of the day. Laying in bed at night becomes restless when we constantly have our minds running. Feeling down may cause us to lash out at others or go through what seems like a never-ending cycle of unhappiness. Every now and then, we'll go through a rough day, week, month, or year, it becomes easier for stress and worries to overwhelm us and sometimes it makes us forget about the great things that we have encountered. I think it's so extremely important for us to be reminded every now and then of the great things we have in our lives and remind ourselves over even the smallest things that make us happy rather than upset. But of course, it's always easier said than done.

The post that caught my eye that summery day as a thirteen-year-old was similar to this one.

The first thing I did was find a random jar (I found a clean fishbowl), decorated it a little, and it became my "Happiness Jar." Day after day, I would rip off a small piece of a sticky note, date it, and write down the big or little event from that day that was memorable and made me happy. Then I'd fold it and pop it in the jar. It could have been that I was having a rough day and maybe a stranger smiled at me or held the door open, or it could have been finally heading off to college. Sometimes, I would write about amazing events that happened to my friends that made me super happy for them too. Whether it was from them earning a huge scholarship, or a friend having their first kiss, I would put it in the jar. When I felt down, I'd either think about something good about that day to write down or pull a random one out to read. At the end of each year, you could read all of them and reminisce over some fun or cringe-worthy moments before starting fresh. I usually take all of them and put them in a bag to store away so I can look back at it another time. Then, I begin again for the New Year.

My High School Memory box that contains plenty of old, happy memories.Nicole Ma

As bright and optimistic as I can be, sometimes I don't have the proper outlet if I may not be feeling the best. The happiness jar really isn't something that has to be super elaborate. At the age of thirteen, I started to mentally struggle significantly through my swimming career and a lot more personal problems. Swimming had been my happiness, my outlet… it was my lifestyle, so struggling with it created a whole new plethora of problems. My coach at the time suggested that I begin journaling to keep track of my goals and progress. From there, I journaled about my swim meets, frustration, and it eventually turned into a personal therapy session with myself. Other people would call it a diary, but I mean… OK nevermind. Personally, if I have a problem; I like writing and organizing my thoughts to see if I can come up with a solution if I really didn't want to tell anyone about it. It's extremely therapeutic for me.

Recently, I've fallen off track with journaling and my mind has felt so clustered with new information and changes, but I found that every time I do write, I feel better. It's as if I'm my own counselor. I write down what's on my mind, read it, and imagine if I were someone else and I work my way through my own advice. If I'm on the go, I like jotting down some of my thoughts on my notepad in my phone, or I write a reminder for something that made me smile to put in my jar at home. Whatever it was, I started making an effort in decluttering my mind onto something else. In a way, it's like taking a leaf blower in the fall to blow away all the dead leaves so I could see that the grass was greener on the other side. Sure, the wind blows every now and then, blowing the leaves onto your neighbor's yard, just like life, sometimes you'll just be naturally happy. Other times, you need that leaf blower cause there's no wind and these darn leaves. There are times when you have to take matters in your own hands. You have friends there for you, you can be your own therapist or counselor, and there are also actual therapies and counselors out there as well, which is an extremely useful and helpful resource out there.

Three of my journals.Nicole Ma

Whoever is reading this, as 2019 begins, I truly hope that your year is filled with so much happiness and growth. Know that when you're going through a rough time, you truly aren't alone. Remind yourself of the little things. Sometimes small, negative things can pile up and drag you down, but pile up the small and happy moments. Those moments are the most powerful. What I did was not necessarily a measurement of happiness. Some days I would forget to add to the jar, and that's OK. It was less about counting the moments that made me happy and more of making those happy moments count.

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Sorry I'm A Size 00

But I'm not really sorry.

My whole life I’ve been thin—which is kind of an understatement. Every time I go to the doctor I get the same “you’re underweight” lecture that I’ve heard every year since I was able to form memories. I’ve never really felt insecure about my weight, I love being able to eat everything and not gain a single pound. Since my freshman year of high school I’ve probably only gained 8 pounds and I’m now a sophomore in college. Of course, in school, there were rumors that I was anorexic or bulimic, but everyone who knew me knew that was far from the truth. I’m now 19, 5’2, and I still have yet to break 100 pounds on the scale. It seems that there is a lot of skinny shaming going around and to me, one of the main contributors to that is the Dove Real Beauty campaign.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this because skinny girls get all the praise and other body types are neglected. That’s really not true, though. While loving other body types, you are tearing down skinny girls. Why is it okay to do that to skinny girls but not to other body types? Why is it okay to say “only dogs like bones” or say “every body type is beautiful” until you see a model's abs, or ribs, or thigh gap and then tear them down because they’re “unnaturally” skinny?

The point I’m trying to make is that, as a naturally skinny girl, I have never shamed anyone for their body type, yet I go every day and get at least two comments about my weight. I’m always the skinny girl, the toothpick, but I’m not Jessica. Yeah, I’m a size 00. Get over it. If you have an issue with my body and feel like my body is disgusting to you, don’t look at it. I know that I’m healthy and I don’t need your input when my body just naturally burns calories fast. I don’t have an eating disorder and never have. I am real beauty though, and I know that because I’m comfortable in my own skin. So maybe the real issue is that we as a society have been shoving certain body types down our daughters’ throats so they begin to romanticize models that have certain standards that they have to meet, who work hard for the bodies that they have, and are making a hell of a lot more money than most of the people discussing why they look emaciated while what they’re actually looking at is the photoshopped product.

I’m not going to apologize for being skinny when that is just how my body is, I can’t help it. So please, stop tearing my body down while trying to bring your body up. You can praise your body without shaming skinny girls. Shaming me for being thin does not make you better than the man that shamed your body, just as me shaming you for being curvy does not make me better than the man that shamed my body. As women, we need to love each other because we are the only ones who truly understand each other.

Cover Image Credit: Victoria's Secret Untouched

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Today Was A Bad Day, And That's OK

It's the little things that matter the most.


Today was a bad day.

I had a nightmare last night. It was so vivid and realistic. Some nightmares I can easily forget about, but this one was difficult to push out of my mind. I woke up in cold sweats, my heart was beating fast. I genuinely felt sick to my stomach. I wish I had never dreamt what I had dreamt. The nightmare really messed me up. It was all I had thought about for most of the day.

I couldn't focus on my school work. I definitely couldn't stay focused in class. I had a pop quiz that I was not prepared for, and there was already too much built-up stress from just the past two weeks. I felt like I couldn't go on with the rest of my day. To keep it somewhat short, things just weren't going my way. I was being too hard on myself and my anxiety was through the roof.

As dramatic as it may seem, this nightmare was too personal, too scary, too heartbreaking, and not too far-fetched. Words cannot explain how dark I had felt today. It brought me to a place I thought I had moved on from.

Today was a bad day, and that's okay.

I got a call from my dad and a text from my mom, both encouraging me to move forward and not stress. There was reassurance in my dad's voice and through my mother's words. Words reassuring me they would always be there for me and loved me.

I took a trip to Gino's with my roommates. That burger was hitting, onion rings and all. These were the "perks" of my day, and though they don't seem like a lot, it meant the world to me.

It truly is the little things that can make your day. Like a call from your daddy, a text from your mama, or a trip to one of your favorite burger spots with some friends. The littlest things help you put things into perspective. These little things came to me at a point where I genuinely really needed them.

These little things distracted me from the most terrible and scarring nightmare. These little things are the things that remind me to move forward, ever stronger. These little things are the things that remind me you can turn a bad day into a good day, but only if you allow this.

Today was a bad day and there's no doubt that I will have many more. That's okay, because it's about the little things that really matter.

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