The Happiness Journal

We started a daily practice of gratitude by writing down 3 things that we’re thankful for at the end of the day.  But since Nico loves to draw (and gets tired easily with writing), I let him doodle his instead.

Last night, he struggled to put anything on his journal because he was trying to make an entry for an event that happened the day before. We went on a trip to Makati then and by the time we got home it was already late at night.

For a lot of kids, it would probably be easy to pick one or two things that they enjoyed about a trip or answer quickly about their favorite food or color or animal, etc. But with Nico it is different. His mind seems to be filled with so many choices he has a hard time to isolate them and just pick one or a few. So he asked me to help him remember the things he was happy about during that day.

When I was taking Comm I and II in UPOU, we were taught that it is always best to write down ideas as they come and just “pour them on paper”. So that is what I did – I wrote the particular moments down as I recalled them. This trick is something Nico could use because he seems to do the picking mentally which could be overwhelming sometimes.

So I had 15 things in the end because I included even the moments when he would shriek in delight or would exclaim “Woohoo!”. (What can I say? I’m a mother and a very sentimental one at that!) This took a good hour to do because recalling those moments led me and my son to chat about the experience in detail which we both enjoyed. To sum it up, there were essentially 6 things that he really loved about the Makati trip:

  1. Visiting the Ayala Museum.
  2. Reading books at the Filipinas Heritage Library.
  3. Reading more books at Fully Booked in Taguig – only the biggest bookstore we’ve ever been to and we rarely get to visit.
  4. Seeing a historical statue – that of Gabriela Silang – in the middle of busy streets of Makati.
  5. Having Japanese food for lunch – his favorite California maki and potato balls at Tokyo Tokyo.
  6. Visiting his uncle. Actually, it was The Making of Jurassic Park book which his dad left in that apartment which he was really excited about. His dad has been talking to him about it for years and we were finally bringing it home!

After going through the list, he thought for a while, picked up the pen and opened his gratitude journal. To my surprise, he drew himself lying down on our bed, smiling. He drew a window on top of the bed and finished it off with raindrops outside the window.

He said it was him relaxing in our bedroom earlier that afternoon.  He was thankful for it because the breeze was cool.

Even though what he put down on the journal was not about the Makati trip which involved a lot of time, energy and some expenses, I was happy. It is enough that he enjoyed recalling them with me. I already have great memories to cherish, after all: his laughter, excitement, cheerfulness, and the never-ending ten chu‘s that day (he couldn’t pronounce the “k” sound clearly yet so that’s how his “Thank you!” sounds like): when I got him the Lola Basyang book from the Filipinas Heritage library or his dad let him visit the diorama exhibit for the second time in the museum, or learning that he gets to drink iced tea along with his favorite Japanese meal, he would flash those smiling eyes, that wide grin, and would blurt out “TEN CHU!’. Wouldn’t you agree that is already a a piece of heaven in itself?

I guess my son thinks it is enough that he and I savored recollecting the Makati trip moments together which I believe is a complete gratitude practice in itself. To me personally, it effectively etched the experience in my memory, which I think is one of the benefits of keeping a happiness journal.

As for the doodle that made it to the journal, I was surprised that I was surprised about it! I mean, we do not go on trips frequently and so the things he is thankful for are really the daily happenings that we grown ups would otherwise call as “ordinary”. I guess the surprise comes from the fact that he enjoyed the same thing that I enjoy, too: relaxing in bed one cool and rainy afternoon, lending an ear to the sound of the raindrops that fall on the leaves, roof and the ground, and not wishing for anything else but for that moment to never end.

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