One Small Thing

Maria Shriver shares one small thing for happiness

A profoundly simple idea came to me last weekend as I was sitting in conversation with three old friends and a dog.

I don’t know exactly whose idea it was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the dog’s. The idea came out of one of those conversations that traversed the news of the day, the bumps of life and the challenges at hand.

As we were talking, we collectively decided that we all needed more joy in our lives. “Yippee moments,” to be exact.

Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver on the set of TODAY to discuss her new book, I've Been Thinking...

What is a yippee moment, you ask? Well, it’s a moment you consciously celebrate. It’s a moment where you decide you get to feel joy-filled at least once per day, since most of us don’t focus on finding joyful moments on a daily basis.

Most of us are so bogged down getting through life and attending to life’s never-ending stream of responsibilities that before we know it, we aren’t playing anymore. We aren’t celebrating anymore. We aren’t thinking “yippee!”

Instead, we have our heads down in our computers or phones. We’re dealing with evolving relationships, changing kids, sick friends, our own health, aging parents and bills. Lots and lots of bills. Sure, you can stay on this path and say, "Well, that's just life." Or you can consciously decide, like I have done, to find a daily "yippee!"

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Is technology impacting your happiness?

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Is technology impacting your happiness?

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Even though this new practice is only a week old, it’s actually lightened and lifted my spirits and changed my thinking.

Yippee! My kids asked to come over!

Yippee! I got to meet Bob Goff this week, whose playful spirit and view of love made my day and got me thinking more expansively about love and life.

Yippee! I got invited to my daughter’s place for dinner, which made me swell with pride.

Yippee! A friend called to check in on me. Another sent a text out of the blue simply to say they were proud of me!

Yipee! A friend jumped in to help me with Move for Minds and donated money without me even asking her. Wow!

Yippee! My brother called to say he would come to town to celebrate his birthday with me.

Yippee! My son called from college and didn’t ask for money. He just wanted to check in.

Yippee! I got to do a loving-kindness meditation with the legendary Jack Kornfield and his wife, Trudy, Thursday night. Lucky, lucky me!

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Meet Yale professor who teaches a course on happiness

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Meet Yale professor who teaches a course on happiness

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Now, to be honest, there were moments this past week that were also challenging and emotional. (On Friday, I gave the eulogy at my friend Nancy’s memorial service and there were lots of tears.) But focusing my mind on joy this week — focusing on celebrating, on clapping my hands, on hugging a friend, on twirling in a skirt, on counting my blessings — well, it just changed my week. It changed my outlook and my spirit.

I’m hoping that this “yippee!” thinking might do the same for you. I know it might sound young and childlike, perhaps even silly. But that’s the point. That’s the gift.

Look, life is a gift. And for God's sake, it's short. There is no doubt in my mind we could all use more yippee moments in our lives. We could all use more laughter and more joy. If you don’t believe me, just turn on the news.

To read more of what Maria Shriver has been thinking, sign up for her weekly newsletter, The Sunday Paper.

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