Even when living in what I think is the most beautiful city in the world — Utrecht — during my time abroad, the school year or just day-to-day life can get stressful. When that happens, I like to focus on the little things that bring me joy and remind me that the world around me isn’t just about stress. Here are some of those things I appreciate during my time here, in the Netherlands, as well as the things I’ll seek out no matter where I am.
- The little treat served alongside every cup of tea or coffee ordered in the local cafes makes a much-needed boost of caffeine seem more special.
- Wildflowers — I’ve never seen anything like the ones that grow here, so full of color and blooming with the utmost resilience to the long winter.
- Sunshine — Having lived in California for nearly my entire life, the typical gloomy Dutch weather makes me miss the sun more than I could’ve previously imagined. Whenever the sun shines through a cloud, I take a minute to bask in it.
- Memes from my boyfriend – They make me laugh and let me know he’s thinking about me too.
- Compliments (both giving and receiving) – I try to dole out as many as I can because I know how good it can feel to get them back.
- Music that’s banger after banger – I was getting ready for a party the other night, and, for some reason, the Spotify algorithm was on my side, playing the type of songs that I haven’t thought about in years but know all the lyrics.
- Ducks – I just really like ducks. There are so many here and they make me unreasonably happy. Not to mention that spring is baby duck season!
- Lazy bike rides – When the weather is good and I’m not in a rush, taking a bike ride can be so calming.
- Good food – Need I say more?
- Train rides – When I’m able to find a seat (which can be hard during rush hour), I spend my train rides looking out on the beautiful country scenes, without any need to worry about traffic or directions the way I would when driving.
- Free samples – It combines my two favorite things: free stuff and food. I seek out the cheese samples when I go to the farmer’s markets here and will usually leave feeling satisfied.
- Healthy nails – This one is pretty specific to me, but as someone who struggles with pesky habits like picking my nails, strong and beautiful nails are signs of perseverance and mind-over-matter to me.
- Clean sheets – After a long day, taking a shower and getting into a bed made with fresh sheets is an experience like no other. Shaving my legs right before (which, realistically, I only do once in a blue moon) is an added bonus.
- Puppies – I almost crashed my bike when cooing at a baby Rottweiler the other day. No joke.
- Perfect curls – A good hair day is completely luck at this point, so when my hair dries in perfect ringlets, it’s a sign that I’m going to have a good day.
- Breathing through my nose – As someone who suffers from seasonal allergies and a lifetime of sinus issues, I no longer take a deep breath through the nose for granted.
- Sound of rain – Falling asleep to the sound of gentle raindrops on the roof is the perfect kind of white noise.
My list of happy, little things grows every day. I’ve found that when you keep your eyes and your mind open to things that delight you, your day will get a bit better. If you spread this positivity, maybe you’ll make someone else’s list.