Celebrate: Bring Your Good Times and Your Laughter, Too

In this must-read essay, writer Dawn Olsen reminds us to stop and celebrate the little things in life.
Featured Image Celebrate Little Things

Headshot of Dawn Olsen looking toward the camera
Dawn Olsen

They say little things matter. That simple joys and small victories can carry us through the everyday. That sometimes we get so caught up in monotony that we forget to celebrate clean water, fresh sheets, and mascara that makes your lashes look like falsies.   

A good day doesn’t have to be fireworks and hoopla. A good day can be headphones that don’t tangle and shower steamers that actually work. A good day can be setting the high score on a video game or successfully cutting up a pineapple for the first time. Maybe it’s getting to the “Genius” level on the Spelling Bee or naturally missing every crack in the pavement. Those “little things” are different for everyone. For me, it’s Morgan Freeman’s voice, Peter Sagal’s humor, and fortune cookies with perfectly timed fortunes.  

I’m also grateful for customizable doormats, friends who call me out on my bullshit, and bad hair days. (They make me better appreciate the good hair days.) I also love going to Goodwill, finding a killer deal, and then telling my friends — the ones who call me out on my bullshit — about the awesome $4 skirt I scored at Goodwill.  

Finding a good deal isn’t always easy, though. In fact, there are a lot of things that aren’t easy. The holidays are certainly challenging. Depressing, even. Triggering. For some, it can be really fucking hard to be happy. And I get it. I do. Because several years ago, during the holidays, I wanted to end my life. Choosing not to kill myself seems like a solid enough decision now. But at the time, I did not have the energy or ability to appreciate the little things, let alone myself. I had no idea how to tell myself, “Good job” whenever I succeeded at something I didn’t think I could do: showering, eating, putting on a clean pair of underwear, going outside.  

I am grateful for friends who showed up. Who didn’t leave me — almost literally — for dead. 

Right now, you may be suffering a loss, too, one that confines you to bed and doesn’t end after you cry yourself dry. But at least there are still flannel pajamas and the cool side of the pillow. And hopefully there are people who give you Em & Friends empathy cards and say your feelings — your grief, love, anger, joy, sadness, pain, and uncontrollable laughter — are valid. That grief is a force of energy that can’t be controlled or predicted, and down the road we may appreciate the lessons we learned from that pain.  

In the meantime, there are heartfelt apologies, mutual respect, unconditional love, and 50 percent off Valentine’s Day candy on Feb. 15. You can have a good cry, a great therapist, a long run, a hot shower. Political candidates you truly believe in and who inspire you. Movies that are just as good as the books and books that smell like Kennedy is still in office. Art. Eyesight. Foresight. Hindsight. Insight. Gravity. Medication that actually works.  

There are puppy videos, too, as well as cheese advent calendars, and sinks that don’t clog. There’s fresh kohlrabi at the farmers’ market. New toothbrushes. The ability to Google the answer to any question. The fact you can have a healthy relationship with chocolate. Seeing the youth of today and thinking things won’t turn out so bad after all. Having the bed all to yourself. Having breakfast in bed. Having breakfast for dinner. 

Celebrate gloomy fall days, sunny winter days, and April 25, because it’s not too hot, not too cold. (All you need is a light jacket.) Pick up that lucky penny and be proud of yourself for remembering the lyrics to a 20-year-old song. Enjoy taking off your bra. Really enjoy taking off your bra. Or just don’t wear a bra in the first place. Do a happy dance when you don’t have to pay extra for guac. Put your kid’s report card on the fridge and replace all the hangers in your closet with matching wooden ones. Create a religion centered around crushed ice. Make someone laugh and share a smile with a stranger. Tell the universe, “I love you.” Let the universe love you back. And enjoy the little things in life, as Kurt Vonnegut said, because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.  

Dawn Olsen is the founder and president of Make Words Go, an inside-joke-turned-LLC. Dawn also writes creative nonfiction and spends far too much time on Twitter. In fact, she’s probably thinking about Twitter right now. Either that or her cat, Ruth Kitter Ginsburg.

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