38: The Book of Good Things

38: The Book of Good Things

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

The Book of Good Things

Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.

~Robert Brault

College: the best of times, the worst of times. That’s how it was for me at least. In the best of times I was able to embrace new experiences, dig into new subjects, and enjoy making new friends. In the worst of times I was confused about what I wanted to study and where I was headed in life. I changed my major once and considered changing it again.

Then came the second semester of my sophomore year. I decided to take the semester off since I would be studying abroad all summer and earn a semester full of credits then.

So I headed to Washington, D.C. to live with two friends who were spending the semester doing internships. The experience of living on my own, earning money for rent and food and fun, was an eye-opening but positive experience. I discovered I loved living in the city — the surprises of urban existence.

The joy of it all made me want to capture the experience on paper. I began to keep a “Book of Good Things.” I bought a small notebook and kept a running, numbered list of everything that delighted me. Anything could make the list: the guy who sang at my metro stop, Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Smithsonian, the funny things I overheard on the bus, the salad I ate for lunch. It was all in there.

Months later, when I was back at college after my summer abroad, I ran into the worst of times: a full-blown depression, except I didn’t know that’s what it was called. I cried all the time, and I felt utterly lost. I didn’t belong at this school in the Chicago suburbs anymore, but I couldn’t admit that to myself or anyone else.

It was my Book of Good Things that gave me one of the many nudges I needed to make some changes. Flipping through the pages and pages of things that brought me joy, I realized that much of what I loved was in D.C. and I began to see that something I loved to do was express myself on paper.

I wonder now what would have happened without my Book of Good Things, which still resides in my garage in a box labeled “College.” Keeping track of the delightful random moments — those urban snapshots that made my heart so happy — helped me to see who I was and where I belonged. I moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University and I changed my major to communications. From that point forward, the confusion and depression were gone and I knew I was on the right track. It is amazing where gratitude for the small things can lead you.

~Nina Taylor

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