Home » Blogs » Weightless » Using Lists to Cultivate Joy and Create Fulfilling Days

Using Lists to Cultivate Joy and Create Fulfilling Days

A photo by David Schap. guys know I love making lists, especially when it comes to practicing self-care and creating satisfaction. One of the ways we can use lists is to write down what truly nourishes us and brings us joy—and then make sure that we include these things, people, actions and places inside our days. Because, as Annie Dillard famously and wisely said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

When it comes to your life, you are a builder, an artist, an architect, an author—even though sometimes it might feel like the opposite. Sometimes, it might feel like you’re at the mercy of others’ schedules, desires and needs. Pause. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that you are not.

Moorea Seal, a Seattle-based designer and author, created a gorgeous journal called 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance and Joy that reminds us that we are indeed creators. In it she provides the space to explore what supports, inspires and delights us. The journal is divided into four sections: Reflect, Acknowledge, Invest, and Transform. Each section includes 13 empowering, thoughtful prompts for penning all sorts of lists, along with practical ideas for taking action.

52 Lists for Happiness, Moorea SealBelow are 12 of my favorite prompts from Seal’s beautiful book to help us cultivate joy, take powerful care of ourselves, and create fulfilling days.

  1. List what makes you happy right now.
  2. List the things you like to do that don’t involve technology.
  3. List all the things that happened today that brought you joy.
  4. List the experiences that have made you feel you are living life to the fullest.
  5. List the ways that you enjoy investing in your mind, body and soul.
  6. List the elements in your life where you feel challenged in a positive way.
  7. List the scents, spaces, textures, and sounds that bring you joy.
  8. List the people you want to spend more time with before the end of the year.
  9. List the gifts you want to give to others through actions, words, and what you can make.
  10. List everything you can think of as a treat to yourself.
  11. List the things you are ready to rid yourself of, things in your home, in your closet, and in your heart.
  12. List some images that make you happy.

Carve out some time to work through the prompts that particularly resonate with you. Pour yourself your favorite beverage, like a cup of tea or a glass of chocolate milk (yum). Light a fall-inspired candle, such as pumpkin spice, peppermint or apple cinnamon. Put on music that you love, or savor the silence. Or create your lists in the margins of your life. That works great, too! Create your lists on your commute. Create your lists at lunch. Create your lists as part of your morning or evening routine.

Give yourself permission to prioritize this time. Give yourself permission to prioritize what brings you joy. To savor what’s sweet and supportive to you. To have fun. To celebrate. To rejoice.

What brings you joy? How can you fill your days with what nourishes and delights you?

Photo by David Schap.
Using Lists to Cultivate Joy and Create Fulfilling Days

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2016). Using Lists to Cultivate Joy and Create Fulfilling Days. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 3, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Oct 2016
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.