How to Feel Good: 11 Small Victories Worth Celebrating

Are you reading this? Congratulations! You can SEE!


When I’m sick, I spend a lot of time resenting my former self for failing to celebrate my good health. Do you do this? Sometimes I have a headache and I wonder internally, almost genuinely, if I’ve ever not had a headache and what that must have been like. Why is it that I only think to cherish normalcy until it’s gone?

These past couple weeks I’ve been feeling pretty blue. Revise that: I’ve been externalizing the 60% of my body that is water. Through my eyes! Like magic. While it’s really special and cute that emotional tears contain a natural painkiller called leucine enkephalin, I think I’m in need of something a little stronger. No, not alcohol! But JOY. In the little things, since some of the big stuff isn’t exactly lining up right now. (You can put that on a pillow if you want.)

Imagine if we celebrated all the times bad shit didn’t happen. Would we all be in a constant state of gratitude? That fact that you’re even reading this sentence means that your computer is neither on fire nor at the bottom of the ocean. What a gift!

Maybe let’s tell our heartbreak, our melancholy, our ennui, our anything, to go ponder itself today. Let’s celebrate the small stuff.

1. When you don’t have a stomach ache.


If you’re stomach is not currently making its existence known to you, you should probably go light some candles, make a wish and blow them out.

2. When you haven’t lost your phone.


If your phone is sitting somewhere in your vicinity that means it’s not currently in a mysterious cab driving across town without you. Text someone you love!

3. When you have toilet paper.


Toilet paper at your disposal during a time of need is such a life-saver. Imagine what you would have done had it run out! Lucky lucky you.

4. When you get to the subway station just as the train arrives.


It’s almost like the intricate gears of this wild and chaotic planet are turning solely for you and it’s not even scary like The Truman Show.

5. When a zit pops.


Right away! Like, you didn’t even have to dig and consider four times whether or not you should stop and analyze what it is that makes you do this in the first place.

6. When you don’t fall down stairs.


You walked down those stairs like a gifted baby! So steady! So self-assured. Damn, girl!

7. When your period comes on time.


You spent no time wondering where it was, why it was, who it was, how it was. You’re alive and you’re bleeding like a powerful adult woman. Let’s hug.

8. When you’re not hungover.


Isn’t it so wonderful that you don’t want to throw up right now? You could even eat something if you wanted to. It would be no big deal at all.

9. When your favorite t-shirt is clean.


It’s so ready for you. Whenever you want. Just say the word! It’s like a good mood button you can press at any time. YAY!

10. When you have another two hours to sleep.


How fun and wonderful that you get to lie cuddled up with your blankets with your eyes ever so delicately closed for another 120 blissful minutes. Everyday heaven.

11. When your ears aren’t plugged.


The lack of pressure in your ears is deafening. How terrific that you can listen to music and watch movies and talk to people without giving your ears a single damn thought. Drinks on me!

Illustrations by Emily Zirimis.


Get more Brain Massage ?
  • Kiki

    I actually am this person more or less constantly 🙂 It has come to my knowledge that some people hate my guts over it. But then I look outside and notice the sky is the exact perfect silvery grey.

  • Thank you … one of my ears went all sick in June and did it for weeks – it was terrible. So thank you, Life (and Doc), that it is OK now (I mean it – it was bad).

  • I, dramatic being that I am, also resent my former self for failing to celebrate my good health when I’m sick! Read that first line and thought, yes, this is me, go on.

    May I also add:
    – When there is coffee at the office.
    – When your relationships are in good standing.
    – When your laptop is charged. Or how about your phone!
    – When there is no humidity, hallelujah!
    – When Netflix isn’t buffering.
    – When you are not experiencing PMS. Those weeks are neat.

    • Lillian

      All of these are wonderful. I walked into TWO fresh-brewed coffee pots this morning after a whole week of dicks leaving them empty and wanted to hug everyone.

      • AMEN. When there is no coffee at the office I have this out of body experience where I want to cry / I feel like the world is ending? I’m very happy this happened for you today.

    • Melissa

      Amen to when my laptop and phone are charged. At the same time? Miracles.

  • Mariana

    Not that MR isn’t a big stuff but:
    12. When I have the privilege to work at Man Repeller and use my words to inspire others. 🙂
    I hope that your blue phase ends soon.
    As my beloved The Killers sing “Time cures hearts”, but sometimes it takes a while. We have to believe that, right?

  • Carley

    I don’t have something in my eye, which I’m convinced is the actual worst.

  • Christel Michelle

    Numbers 4 and 9 are the best!!
    Also, I’d add: When you arrive somewhere early (especially if you’re prone to being late everywhere… ATTN: mom and dad).

  • Tania

    Loved it so true. The complete opposite of these things is special, quiet torture. I’d add also when your nose is not stuffy! I have a friend who has a permanent common cold (due to her being a elementary school teacher and all) and she says having a clear nose is something she’ll never take for granted.

  • Good reminder! Thank you

  • Kurie Fitzgerald

    needed this.

  • Maia

    Perfect timing. Just yesterday I spent the evening hours in the park trying to list the simple pleasures I take for granted all too often. I’d add: anytime I still have ice cream left in the freezer on a Monday night, and each day that my computer doesn’t yell at me to update something and lets me peruse the interwebs in peace. It’s the little things.

  • Fran

    I’m just done dealing with a yeast infection that lasted around 2 weeks (TMI? Thanks, antibiotics!) so I’m gonna add: when it doesn’t itch down there!

    • My friend’s gyno said this summer has been ‘yeasty’ so you’re not alone there!

      • Fran

        Hah! I live in the southern hemisphere and my gyno said the same about this winter! Seems like it’s good times for yeast everywhere ?

    • Ah or when you’re not in pain down there from a UTI!

      • Natasha

        SERIOUSLY. Sitting on a toilet feeling like you have to pee when you can’t. I’m so happy this isn’t me right now, and hope it isn’t you either. Thank you Universe.

      • Lillian

        I would rather set my head on fire.

    • Gabrielle

      Feeling this.

  • Natasha

    I’m sorry you’ve been feeling blue! Today, my #12 small victory is When I’m drinking coffee and I get to read another great piece by Haley.

  • Colleen Pepe

    Just have to share that I LOVE you guys so much ! I read you guys every morning on my way to work and every night on my way home. You manage to make me giggle at my phone everyday. This post was much needed today. Love all that you guys do / represent ! ✨???

  • Absolutely nothing like the pure joy of the day after a hangover. Colours are brighter! The air is fresher! There’s very little chance you’ll need to throw up in a bin on the street!

  • Gabrielle

    number 7 is me! until day 3, then I’m like “ugh when will my period end already”

    • Gabrielle

      also – love your articles Haley!

  • Michela Galante


  • Greer Clarke

    CLEARLY saved the best for last, next round of drinks on me (after yours) because I feel so much pleasure even just thinking about good ears UGH

  • Samantha s

    This is excellent. I am not an optimist, but I am a realist. So, this article is my life. Well, except for the train thing because I don’t live in the city. So, for those of us who drive, I’d like to add one more. #76 “When your car starts in the winter” !!! Such a joy.

  • Felt this exact feeling when I had to wade through calf-high floods and regretted how I didn’t feel grateful when it was bright and sunny!

  • Armchair Designer

    When you get to the kitchen and there’s more than Oats left.

  • Mun

    Ah I love this perspective. Let’s celebrate the fact that we’re well and alive today, and that we could love and be loved.

  • Serena

    I love your attitude Hayley! I took a minute to contemplate every one of those things! Similarly I live across the road from where I work, so my commute it less than 3 minutes on foot. Every day, in the morning and in the evening, I take that time to be grateful for not being in traffic or on public transport. Every damn day!
    Feel better soon!

  • I just re-visited this, and let me tell you, it stands the test of time. As good and helpful six months later.

  • Nat Ch

    #12 When you have plans for the weekend
    #13 When you don’t have plans for the weekend


  • Leyla

    This needs to be a poster

  • Laura Glendenning

    I do this when i have a sore throat (the worst afliction imho). I spend my time dreaming of healthier days gone by. I fixate on two things: 1) that i will probably never get better and 2) all the things i will do when i get better…
    Like finish the informative but slightly dry hot nonfiction book (like..did the sore throat kill my eyes? Apparently), call my mom, take the stairs in the metro, do nightly yoga. All things I never actually did before and of course when I inevitably get better i don’t do any of those things.