“Tell me the best thing that happened to you this week,” I asked Facebook. I asked in 2019, and again in 2021 and 2022, just so I could hear happy news about people thriving, at least in the moment. It’s what I needed to hear in one big slurp, in view of everything else, like these times. You know.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.Wendell Berry
The 100 responses ran a gamut, from exuberant joy to simple pleasure, with several instances of simple relief after difficulties. There were similarities and overlaps, and while they might be prescriptive, it could just be for me and my bubble. This narrow slice of humanity includes friends or acquaintances connected on social media, so we have similarities: overlapping interests, or shared values, or at the least, common backgrounds <waving to people I haven’t seen since high school>. So though this isn’t a controlled study on joy, I THINK many of these things would make most people happy.
The most mentioned “bests” were family-related – partners, kids, siblings, grandkids. Also popular were outdoors or nature-related activities. And doing something outdoors with family? Whoa, so damn good. Friends were brought up a lot too, though not as often as family, perhaps because I myself am a family person.
- Saw my child, her beloved, and autumn in full glory
- Making pine cone forests at the park (with toddler)
- Basketball with my kids, my love, and dog at local park on a crisp fall day
- Birthday bbq on the beach with dolphins and friends
- A sunny, post-rain hike (with partner)
- Taking the boat out to the canals and bay for a gorgeous sunset with the family
Some were excited about work or avocational accomplishments. Life was better with flow, or reaching a sought after goal.
- I got a professional job, in a position I am excited about, directly out of grad school!
- I set up a charitable gift annuity
- One of the best gigs of my life
- Finished chords & melodies for a new song
- Helped a client give away $1 million in philanthropic funds
- Successful demo & promo to 4th degree black belt in Aikido
- Attended a writing retreat
Then there’s the pursuit of good health, your own or another’s – desired, elusive, worried over, and it’s not just us old fogies. What is better than feeling better, or relief that someone else is on the mend, or even snagging some endorphins and taking care of yourself?
- My sweetheart’s long awaited medical test came back in his favor
- Hikes for my body, astounding vistas for my soul
- Re-started a mediation practice
- Played soccer, which always helps
- Surrounded by loving and fun friends while dancing to live music!
- I broke my lifetime jogging record. Twice.
- Several mentions of body work, the relief of getting a vaccine, as well as surviving covid
I loved the few mentions of being proud of someone else’s achievement, and getting or giving help. The unanticipated gifts seem especially delicious.
- A teacher raved about my kid’s creativity and work ethic
- My kid got his very first paid gig
- A neighbor drove me to my doctor appointment
- My mama took my girls to their activities
- Attended my partner’s amazing concert
Of course, a few mentioned pets: a new kitten, a house trained puppy, and a dog recovered from illness.
One person bought a home – only one mention of that of course, but worth a best of the week mention!
One person wisely said, “Sometimes the best thing that happens is that nothing much happens.” I think we all sometimes relish a time of stillness, doing nothing.
And lastly, one person said, “It has been a rough week and I can’t think of any best things, but thank you for opening my eyes to the possibility, and now I’m looking for it!” Maybe that’s all it takes.
What was the best thing about the past week for you?
Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.Joseph Campbell