A Collective List of Small Joys

What would you put on yours?

2 min readJan 12, 2023
Cycling on Christmas Day in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. Photo by the author.

Our days have two faces — the beaming and the downcast. In between lies a space of neutrality.

Within that space, there are small things that make a big difference. These things are not what we call essential but they give meaning to the hours we consume while here.

I made a list of these things today.

Mama’s cooking

cozy socks

ginger tea

scented candle

morning yoga

sea shells

a student asking which word to use in her essay

my students teaching me a Vietnamese phrase

clicking ‘Publish’ after writing a blog post

the smell of my dog after a bath

(her smell before bath is okay too)

old photographs from home

Seashells by the shore of Tung Thu Beach, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam. Photo by the author.

purple pens, fountain pens

cheap, yellow daisies from the market

oatmeal with honey

cycling between fields and mountains

waking up to a plan-less Sunday

finding a quiet cafe in a noisy city

writing prompts

sharing podcasts, articles, and books to people who will enjoy them

thick jackets and blankets

finding the right book when it’s needed

video calls with friends and family

having the right words to say

knowing when to be silent

Making this list is nice to do once in a while. What would you put on your list?

Read my open letter to 2023 here. If you want to look further back, here is my open letter to 2022.

Here’s a list of my favorite books from 2022.

Odyssa is a Filipino writer and teacher based in Hanoi, Vietnam. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love and From Where I Stand: A Collection of Poems on Travel.

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