99 things that make me happy

Things haven’t been going too well in my daytime life as a graduate student.  Experiments don’t work, progress is slow, and my patience is thin.  I don’t think I’m cut out to be a scientist, but I won’t get into that.

I’ve been in a bad mood more often that not lately, and stress levels are quite high.  The arrival of winter hasn’t really helped either.  I rarely see sunlight now that it gets dark by 5 pm, and it’s always cold outside.

I think this is a phase that most graduate students go through at some point or another during their training, especially in science.  Things can be frustrating, and the most important thing is to take a deep breath and remember that there is a world outside the lab.

I was sitting on the couch earlier this evening after a grueling Saturday in lab during which almost everything I did failed.  I was eating a microwaved frozen burrito and staring at computer feeling sorry for myself while everyone I know was busy doing something fun.  Even my mom was too busy to talk to me.  It makes me just a little depressed that my mom has a more active social life than me, but she certainly deserves to have fun.  I decided then that I should make a list of things that make me happy, so I can look at them when I’m having a bad day and feel a little bit better.

If you’ve been feeling the effects of the winter blues, I hope you’ll make your own list and it’ll make you smile!

Things that make me happy, in no particular order:

1. Dark chocolate, the darker the better

2. Hugs, especially when they’re unexpected

3. Mail (I’m not talking about junk mail, but postcards and letters from friends around the world)

4. Beautiful sunsets

Sunset at Four Mile Creek State Park

Sunset at Four Mile Creek State Park

5. Baby big cats

6. Buying plane tickets

7. Train trips

8. A cup of good tea

9. A visit to the tea store with my good friends (sadly they now live in other places)

10. Visiting friends

11. Seeing my friend from Chile a couple weeks ago after 6 years!

12. Dresses with pockets

13. Good wine with good company

14. Hard pumpkin cider

15. Starting a novel for NaNoWriMo, even though I might not have time to finish it

16. My new water boiler that brings water to the correct temperature for steeping different types of teas

17. People who appreciate my cooking/baking

18. Making people smile

19. My fancy new vegetarian cookbook (Plenty)

20. My collection of stuffed animal big cats (I’m currently using the leopard as a pillow!)

21. Knitting baby blankets

22. Flowers

23. Running a 15K at the beginning of November, which is the longest distance I’ve ever run (I might try to run a half marathon next year!)

24. Random acts of kindness

25. Helping friends in lab

26. Losing myself in a good book

27. Wonderful friends who put up with my incessant complaining

28. A moment of understanding in the student’s mind when I’m trying to teach a concept

29. Sunshine

30. A drink at Sheffield’s, my favorite bar in all of Chicago

31. Unexpectedly warm weather in the winter

32. Sherlock (mostly Moriarty)

33. A really good run

34. Being challenged

35. Walking to lab when the weather is nice

36. The view of downtown Chicago from the Hancock Tower at night

37. Seeing my family in India

38. Drinking sparkling cider with my family on New Year’s Eve

39. Phone calls from old friends

40. Cooking a nice meal

41. Eating brunch

42. Hot cocoa

43. Decorating cupcakes

44. Journaling

45. Mountains

46. Learning new languages

47. Communicating with people in their native language

48. Being warm

49. Fuzzy socks

50. Planning my next adventure

51. Going to football games with my dad

52. My mom’s cooking

53. Pretty teapots

54. Collecting earrings from different places around the world

55. Staying up all night watching cricket matches

56. Convincing people to vote

57. Volunteering

58. An organized email inbox

59. My Bon Appetit magazine subscription

60. Sherlock Holmes audio books

61. A good music selection on Pandora

62. Listening to old Hindi music in lab late at night

63. Dancing

64. A sense of humor

65. Witty banter

66. Jane Austen novels

67. Photography

68. Stationery and fancy pens

69. Hiking

70. Writing letters

71. The smell of rain

72. Things that smell like jasmine

73. My amazing siblings

74. Clean clothes that are still warm from the dryer

75. The Sound of Music

76. Student discounts

77. The ashram in Crestone. CO

78. Stamps in my National Parks passport

79. Lists

80. Index cards

81. Free food

82. Freshly baked pastries

83. Gardens

84. Late night chats with friends

85. Waking up before my alarm rings (very rare occurrence)

86. Libraries

87. Having my mom instruct me over the phone while I try to make traditional South Indian food

88. Buying gifts for friends

89. Good cheese (the current favorite is cinnamon dusted Toscano)

90. Picking apples off the tree in my parents’ backyard and devouring them by the dozen

91. Blessings from elders

92. Fresh fruit

93. Exploring a new place on foot

94. Playing bridge

95. People in my lab sending me videos of baby big cats to cheer me up because they know how much I love them

96. The amazing people I work with

97. Good grammar

98. Food Network and HGTV

99. Writing about my travel adventures and reading other people’s experiences

As a side note, part of me has to acknowledge that I really have no right to complain as December promises to be full of good weather and fun!

What are some things that make you happy?

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