When the Church released the Christmas video "A Savior is Born" in December 2015, LDS teen Annie Weight noticed it repeated the word "rejoice" several times. She was touched by its hopeful message and felt inspired to live a more positive lifestyle. "Throughout the Christmas season and the beginning of the new year, I thought a lot about joy, what it meant to others, and what it meant to me," said Weight. "After a lot of thought, I decided that I wanted to be happier with my life and I decided to start keeping a list of all the things in my life that made me happy."
Weight began her "happy list" journal on January 9, 2016, and has continued the project ever since. Today, the list boasts 19,170 items.
2,380: dec happy things— annie nuttall (@nnienuttall) January 1, 2017
10,340: 2016 happy things
The project initially involved a small list that Weight updated in the notes section of her phone. Due to the list's expansive nature, however, she has since transferred her list into a notebook and has a copy of the entire list saved on her computer.
Photo courtesy of Annie Weight
Weight has felt an increased sense of gratitude and peace as she has taken the time to record and reflect on the things that bring joy into her life. "The past year and a half have been the most joyful and happy times of my life," Weight shared. "Keeping a happy list and noticing the positive things in my life have blessed me when life gets a little bit rough."
Weight's happy list has encouraged many people to live more joyfully, and several people have been inspired to begin their own lists as well:
"Through these past months I have posted about my happy list several times on my social media and so many of my friends have followed on my journey of joy. Several people reached out to me and told me that they had started their own happy lists, including my stake young women's president and her counselors, several of my close friends, and even people that I had only talked to once or twice. In fact, a young woman from Ohio messaged me and said that she had randomly found my twitter and started a happy list after following me for a couple months. She shared several of my tweets with her laurels class and a few of them started happy lists as well!"
Weight's friend Jeremy Lewis noticed her ability to focus on the good and was inspired to begin his own happy list. "I wanted to try it out, and see if I could also find that fulfillment," said Lewis. After one month of recording positive things in his life, his list had about 800 items. He believes that keeping a happy list has added more meaning to his daily life and allowed him to appreciate blessings he may not have previously recognized:
"It was amazing to see ways that I was blessed by those around me and by the Lord. Because of this project, I have gotten into the habit of remembering the good things in my life. I will sit down at night and think back on all the good things that happened that day and add them to my list. It helps me feel like I have had a worthwhile day, great family and friends, and I realize so many of my blessings that may otherwise be forgotten or ignored."
Lewis believes that writing down his blessings has allowed him to focus on the good in a way that could not be accomplished simply through positive thinking, and he encourages others to keep some form of gratitude list as well: "I would say that it doesn't matter the format you use to record and remember your good experiences. If you record them, you will be blessed. You will see the good in your life. Often I only write down a few ideas a day, but everything I've written is a strength to look back on."
Jentri Harris, who went to high school with Weight, was also inspired by her example of positivity and gratitude. "I noticed how happy and positive she was all the time, and it made sense why when I heard that she was keeping track of everything that made her happy," shared Harris. Through keeping her own happy list, Harris has felt an increased sense of gratitude and spiritual strength in her life:
"I started my own happy list because I wanted my mind to be focused on the positive things in life rather than the negative. It’s so easy to find things to complain about, so focusing on the positive allows your heart to be open to feeling the Spirit on a more regular basis. The Spirit doesn't dwell in a negative environment.
"Our beloved Savior Jesus Christ atoned for our sins so that we may be happy in this life and in the next. . . . He doesn’t want us to be sad, or to have regrets. Our happiness and success is literally the reason for His atonement. That is the reason I have a happy list: to be happy."
Photo courtesy of Annie Weight
For those who would like to think more positively, Weight suggests, "Notice the little things. It's hard at first, but eventually you can train your brain to notice almost every small blessing Heavenly Father has given [you]. It really helped me to write things down because I was making a conscious effort to make note of the positive things in my life."