20 Things That Bring Me Joy

A few months ago I had a great chat with new designer and content creator Sam McDavitt. Among the many topics we discussed was an exercise Sam recently tried in which he listed 20 things that bring him joy. He said it was easy to think of the first 10 or so, but some interesting things emerged when he got to the last few on the list.

So today I’m going to try the same exercise, rapid fire. In no particular order (other than when I thought of these things):

  • chocolate (and treats/desserts in general, or any great food, whether I’m cooking or dining elsewhere)
  • my cats (particularly when they’re snuggly, content, curious, responsive to affection, or full of personality)
  • Megan (especially hugs, laughter, hearing her talk to our cats, and seeing her happy)
  • playing board games (especially when others have moments of cleverness or good luck, and when I’m playing a game that I already love or am discovering how much I love it for the first time)
  • disc golf and soccer (watching and playing, especially when I see someone reach their full potential or do something miraculous)
  • seeing other people–strangers, friends, family–succeed as their true selves, and having the opportunity to uplift and elevate them
  • seeing my family members happy (I don’t want kids, but I love seeing my sister and brother as parents and my parents as grandparents, just as I adore my nieces and nephews)
  • acts of service that save me time/inconvenience
  • quality time with friends with whom I’m fully myself (meaningful conversations about nothing, shared histories, quiet moments that no one feels the need to fill, etc)
  • books that make me want to crawl into bed early to see what happens next
  • movies and TV shows that exceed my expectations (especially if I highly anticipated them or when they completely surprise me)
  • when a recommendation of mine resonates with a friend (game, podcast, book, show, movie, music, video, blog, food, advice, etc)
  • any day when I’ve created something new or made progress on an ongoing creation (whether it’s a game, a blog/video, or some other written work)
  • seeing my coworkers safe and fulfilled (including the independent contractors–artists, designers, etc–I work with every day)
  • hosting (I don’t always want social time, but when I’m in the mood, I love taking care of people at our home)
  • taking care of people (whether it’s giving them a ride, picking up the bill at a restaurant, or something else)
  • anything or anyone who makes me laugh out loud (and/or when that same thing makes someone else laugh out loud)
  • happy customers, especially when our games create opportunities for connection
  • variety! I love variety, whether it’s the food on my plate or the things I do at work each day
  • any of my pet pleases

Most of this list came to me fluidly…until I got to number 20. It was really hard to finish the list! I kept thinking of little things that bring me joy–there are many of them–so in the end I just cheated a bit and linked to my pet please list.

One thing that I debated putting on the list was travel. I have an odd relationship with travel, as I very much enjoy my home base–I’m at peace when I’m at home, and I’m often stressed when I travel. At the same time, many of my most distinct memories come from traveling, and I’m grateful for those trips. So I don’t quite know what to do with that.

If you’d like to try this exercise in the comments (or on your own blog and link to it), I’d love to see your 20 things! My understanding of the exercise is that the full 20 is important, not just a few things.

6 thoughts on “20 Things That Bring Me Joy”

  1. That’s a great post Jamey and something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, as after 30 years in the construction industry (UK, Hong Kong and Australia) – I’ve taken a break over the last few months to reset and decide what I’d like to do for the next 15 or so years through to retirement – specifically in an area/interest that I love. Call it a midlife crisis, and it is a bit daunting, but I’ve decided I really need to do something I love moving forward – so here’s my attempt at a Top 20 list.

    (1) Playing and teaching tabletop games – I’d like to expand my time to more board game groups, as lately it’s only been with family and solo plays

    (2) Spending time with my wife and kids – we lead a busy life, so it’s nice to take a break to switch off sometimes – weekend breaks/day trips

    (3) Reading – I’ve loved books from a very early age, and have a big collection – and love seeing/hearing recommendations for new books

    (4) Music – Again, I fell in love with music at a very young age, and have a wide range of music tastes and a large collection of vinyl/CD’s and cassette tapes. Favourite Artist – Paul Weller

    (5) Catching up with my parents and sister – this doesn’t happen very often as my parents live back in Scotland and my Sister on Long Island New York – we’re in Australia

    (6) Liverpool Football club – I’ve supported them for over 40 years, and still love soccer/football – I’ve really enjoyed watching Wrexham over the last few years as well.

    (7) Rugby Union – specifically the Scotland national side and Hawick in the Scottish Borders, but enjoyed playing it when I was younger too.

    (8) Cooking – I love to cook, and I’ve had more time to do this lately. Favourites are winter stews and Indian curries

    (9) Our Greyhounds – we’ve adopted a number over the years and they are the best dogs.

    (10) Concerts – I love watching LIVE music – CoVID stopped this for a few years, but it’s gradually picking up again

    (11) Country Walks – I grew up doing weekend walks with my parents in Scotland and the English Lake District – and just love getting out in the fresh air.

    (12) A beer in a quiet pub by a log fire

    (13) Travel – specifically to quiet places with great scenery/walks/history – recent favourites – Tasmania, Denmark (Copenhagen), Bruges and Salzburg – before CoVID.

    (14) Watching my 3 girls grow up – whether it’s playing sports, drama performances etc – time flies passed pretty quickly

    (15) Sitting on the couch with my wife and watching a good movie/tv series – we love UK drama/crime series and the Nordic Noir crime series, but have also enjoyed Ted Lasso and Poker Face recently.

    (16) Coffee – It’s a religion in Melbourne

    (17) A nice glass of wine at one of our local wineries in the Yarra Valley

    (18) Sitting around our Chiminea fire on a sunny winters day and cooking wood fired pizza or a roast in the attached oven

    (19) Thinking about/great memories of my grandparents – I was lucky to have most of them for a large chunk of my adult life.

    (20) Playing golf – although this doesn’t allows bring me joy……

    Thanks Jamey – that was a good exercise to do. Apologies for the long reply.

  2. This is a great idea, I did make me think and here’s my list:

    1) My two kids, everything about them.
    2) Seeing my wife happy.
    3) Travel – truly one of the joys of life.
    4) My morning freshly squeezed citrus juice (two oranges, one grapefruit and one lemon).
    5) Driving my cars.
    6) Board games, playing, teaching, exploring solo plays.
    7) A good book.
    8) A good TV show after kids go to sleep.
    9) Remembering happy childhood memories.
    10) Seeing people I love doing good.
    11) Reading about a kind act.
    12) Thinking about the future. This is tricky because half the time it’s not positive thoughts.
    13) Relaxing at home when it’s quiet.
    14) Hungarian, Austrian or German food.
    15) Cake!
    16) Coka Cola.
    17) Watermelon and cherries.
    18) Playing with my pets.
    19) Reflecting back on my life, the ups and down and what made me be here.
    20) Developing board game ideas in my head.

    • Thank you for sharing this! I really like “Remembering happy childhood memories” and “reading about a kind act”–those particularly resonate with me.

  3. Great list and an interesting exercise… For me, here’s the breakdown:

    20. Work e-mails <25
    19. Personal e-mails <50
    18. Helping someone in need
    17. Meeting a new café guest
    16. Solving a mensa-like puzzle
    15. Clever move in a board game
    14. Opening a new board game
    13. Assisting a designer as a developer
    12. Traveling in the U.S.
    11. Traveling overseas/abroad
    10. Finishing a workout
    9. Christmas morning
    8. Seeing a published game that I worked on
    7. Mashed potatoes
    6. Traveling to a new location
    5. Speaking a foreign language well
    4. Seeing friends
    3. Playing any board game
    2. Hanging out with Kat (daughter)
    1. Spending time with Ping (wife)


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