Find Your Smile: Happy Memories from 5 Incredible Bloggers

What’s your happiest memory?

I’ve been kicking the question around for a few weeks, now, never settling on one specific thing. Can you blame me? I’m a happy guy! I kickstarted this very blog with a post called “5 Simple Reasons to Smile,” so happy memories clearly rank high on my agenda.

The question, though, still stands. Lacking my own answer, I decided to ask (on Twitter!) five people very close to my heart: bloggers, all of them, whose remarkable lives convinced me to get off my butt and start living on my own terms. Annabel Candy, social media marvel. Leo Babauta, who needs no introduction. Colin Wright, purveyor of style and philosophy in equal amounts. Everett Bogue, minimalism defined (and just a wonderful person to chat with!). And the delightful Miss Minimalist herself, Francine Jay.

Read on for what these rockstar bloggers offered up as some of their happiest memories (and a little deep-thinking from me on what it all means).

Colin Wright (Exile Lifestyle)

“Hmm, one is my first event (concert/fashion show) for my first company being a success. Never felt such a high before that.”

Annabel Candy (Get in the Hot Spot)

“Happiest childhood memory = feeding my chickens!”

Everett Bogue (Far Beyond the Stars)

“The last. :) Sharing a burrito with one of my fellow yoga teacher trainers 5 minutes ago.”

Leo Babauta (Zen Habits)

“I live my happiest memory every day: hugging one of my children, or cuddling with my wife.”

Francine Jay (Miss Minimalist)

“Walking the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto under the cherry blossoms. :)

What do they all have in common?

I think you already know the answer.

The moments here — these five slices of happiness — are life. They’re everyday business, the kind of experience we create on a daily basis, and thoroughly, utterly normal. Isn’t that incredible? These are powerful people, an inspiration to me and so many others, and yet the moments they’re the happiest are the very definition of — dare I say it! — ordinary. (Except for Colin. Stop being the exception to the rule!)

I think that’s a beautiful thing. And I think it’s a lesson, in a way, that so many of us — myself included! — really need to hear. Are you waiting for happiness? Are you waiting for something incredible, thinking you’ll never really be happy until it happens?

Stop that. You already have it. You might not realize it, but happiness is everywhere you look. It’s sharing a burrito with someone you just met. It’s spending time with your family. It’s feeding chickens, it’s walking with nature, it’s seeing your creativity take physical form — it’s life.

Here’s the best part: everyone has it! I don’t care who you are. I don’t care if you’re a blogger, reader, or somewhere in between — you have life. You have all the ingredients for moments of pure, incredible happiness, and — surprise! — you’ve had them from the start.

You just need to realize it. You need to think, now, of those moments in your own life when you’re happiest, and you need to do everything in your power to recreate them. You need, in other words, to find what makes you smile.

I think you’ll be surprised by what you find. I was. Whenever I think happiness, I always go big: traveling! Exploring! Trying something new! And I do love all of these things, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve realized something else: they’re not the happiest I’ve ever been. They come really close, sure, but other things still win out for pure satisfaction.

Connecting with an old friend, for example, and talking for three straight hours at Denny’s while drinking herbal tea. Cooking with my mother, for another, and trying out recipes I’ve dug up from some obscure corner of the internet.

That’s life. And that’s happiness, for me, the small things that I so often forget to appreciate.

That’s another reason I’m grateful to the five bloggers listed above. They don’t know it (unless they’re reading this. Hello!), but each one has inspired me — through their work and through the answers to my question — to realize a few things about the nature of happiness itself.

You don’t need a lot of money. You don’t need a faster, shinier car. You don’t need a two-story house in a ritzy neighborhood, you don’t need a sixty-inch HDTV, and you don’t need a single thing that society has been telling you to want since the day you were born.

You just need to think. You need to remember what makes you happy. You need to embrace that thing and try to bring it into your life as much as you can, and you need to do that with the knowledge that you’re making one of the biggest and greatest changes you can ever hope to make.

I’m not kidding. This is huge. Because you’re not trying to buy happiness anymore, and you’re not waiting around and hoping it’ll come to you. You’re realizing that you already have it — that you have everything you need all around you, and that happiness, for you, can be something as simple and sweet as cuddling up on the couch.

That’s life, in a nutshell. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. So what are we waiting for?

Find your happiness. Find what makes you smile. Chances are, it’s a lot closer than you think.

What’s your happiest memory? I still want to know! In the meantime, though, I’d really appreciate it if you spread the word about this post to two or three of your friends. Three New Leaves is growing, slowly but surely, but I need all the help I can get!

And thanks so much for reading! If you like what’s going on around here, then why not have free updates sent directly to your inbox or to your RSS reader? I really appreciate it! And you can follow me on Twitter, too. That always makes me smile. :)


  1. Hi Matt, love this. We can perk ourselves up anytime we want by reliving our happy memories:) Thank you for asking me. What’s yours?!

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      You already know it! ;)

      And everyone else will find out about it too. Probably Thursday, I think, since I’ll be writing a post about it and getting a little emotional and stuff. Haha!

      Thanks for participating, Annabel! It’s always a pleasure to have you pop up on the blog!

  2. Melody says:

    Hi Matt! You’re really onto something. Congrats on this blog!

    Today I found you for the first time. Although I’ve already forgotten the path here, it had to do with a search for like-minded, travel-loving bloggers. What a perk to discover someone who also values the simple things. I read your post then sat here and deliberately recalled a string of happy memories. Just as you suggested, the best ones were the simple ones, the free ones. The ones anybody could have. Thank you. It’s good to have these reminders!

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Hey Melody!

      Thanks so much! :) For stopping by, for one, but also for being a location-independent vagabonder. That’s the exact kind of life I’ll be entering into in a few months, so your introduction has excellent timing. And I can only imagine, too, how many happy memories you’ve collected so far. Every time I travel I pick up dozens at a time, so bouncing around as you have must make for a pretty cheerful existence. :)

      Nice to meet you!

  3. Hey Matt

    How have you been? Yet another great post that’s got me thinking. I have a few happy memories (well, more than a few!) so it’s hard to pinpoint one ‘happiest’ moment, but I can tell you that more than half of them involve being with friends and laughing a lot. So I guess that tells you (and me!) what’s important to me… Looking forward to reading about your happiest memory later this week!

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Hey Rachael!

      I’m doing well. :) Busy as always, but that’s nothing new. How are you?

      That’s what I discovered too — most of my happiest memories are simple, pleasurable things that I could have each and every day if I wanted. It’s a great realization, I think.

      And, er, the happiest memory is still happening. Eventually. ;) I’m thinking about it!

  4. Dude — you nailed it. This is really great! Cheers…

    p.s. spotted you from corbett’s comments today

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      Thanks, Satya!

      Nice to meet you. :) Going to check your blog when I get back tonight and start nosing around, haha.

  5. Matt,

    I ran an adventure race with my brother 2 weeks ago. He was great at setting the pace and reading the topographical map. I was great at trying to keep up and navigating with a compass.

    We haven’t seen each other for 4 years, yet we connected on such a natural and organic level!!

    I had the time of my life and found myself really missing him when I dropped him off at the airport.

    • Matt Madeiro says:

      I’m not surprised. :)

      I had a similar experience whenever I traveled with my brother for the first time. He and I hadn’t been very close before that, but we’ve been great friends ever since. The connection, like you said, happened on a very organic and natural level.

      The memories from traveling with him are some of my favorite. But there are plenty of more ‘normal’ things too that make me as happy as can be, so needless to say I’m trying to pursue both paths as much as possible. :)

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! Minimalism 4 ever! ;)

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