Over on Thought Catalog, Ko Im offers a series of prompts to help you discover patterns that point to how to do more of what makes you feel happy. A few favorites:

What is the best thing that happened to me?This not only brings back fond memories but also shows implicit gratitude. It also shows your scope – is it a specific event or an overall “I’m grateful to be alive!”

What are five things I like about me?Yup, shower yourself with compliments.

How are three ways others would describe me?These adjectives could be good or bad. Perception vs. reality, the point is to be self-aware and therefore confident.

Finish this sentence: My dream is…Don’t be afraid to write it down, say it out loud, shout it from a rooftop! What would you do if no one else was reading, watching or listening?

These questions are not easy for me. I’m not one to shower myself with compliments and I often find myself feeling down about things on an internal level. Positive self talk always sounded like utter bullshit to me.

The bottom line is what are the things that make me happy? I’m not an upbeat guy… one of those people who always see the silver lining. I wear my pessimistic jacket and permanent dark cloud like a badge of honor sometimes. That’s probably not particularly healthy.

If It Makes You Happy

Here’s the first batch of things that make me happy. What about you?

Looking up while underwater
My daughter and I have decided that if given the chance, we would try scuba diving. Just from our experiences at the Urbana Aquatics Center with their 15 foot deep well, I know we’d love to go under and stay under. And, you know, still breathe. I love the weightless feeling of being underwater and looking up.

Staying up until 3am and everything is just hilarious
Here’s something I haven’t done in ages. Drinking usually isn’t even part of the equation. I like the half finished sentences or the single word that will bring me and my friends into fits of laughter. Rico Suave indeed.

Guilty pleasure songs
I bet you have one. I have dozens. Wanna know one of them? “Beat It.” The solo puts a smile on my face every time. Also that part where Michael makes some weird noise.

Driving around with the windows down on late summer nights
I spent many summers jamming in my car with my friends as we listened to Aerosmith and the Eagles. The night air and the highway mix into this scent that means summer to me.

Watching cream go into coffee
I have a nice travel mug of coffee every workday morning. I don’t always have cream with it, but I do love watching the inky blackness turn tan with a touch of creamer. I also love the hiss of Splenda hitting the hot coffee too.

Figuring out the plot twist in a movie before everyone else
I do this so often that I’m actually surprised when a movie is so original and engaging that I have no idea what’s going to happen next. The Departed did that. Inception did that too.

The moment of no return on a roller coaster
It’s the apex of the first hill as you climb and just get over the hump for the first drop. Riding the roller coaster at New York, New York in Vegas gave me that feeling in a big way.

Steering wheel drumming
I am the foremost steering wheel drummer on the planet. Give me a song I really know well and I’m on fire. My fingers actually hurt after a while, but I don’t stop. You can’t kill rock and roll.

Finding that perfect level of warmth under covers
Sometimes you can have too many covers and feel smothered. Other times too few covers and you can’t get comfortable. It’s like Goldilocks.

Good Day Sunshine

I had a good day yesterday. Having a good morning today. I hope to keep it up.

The sun is shining. It might actually hit 45 degrees outside and melt all the snow. My daughter’s birthday is Sunday and she’s excited. I have good friends and an awesome family.

I made a tasty chicken and salsa dish last night. All my bills are paid. Lost was awesome. I have Nip/Tuck to watch and the next Battlestar Galactica. My ankle feels hundred times better and I was invited to a Illinois-Iowa/Super Bowl party. Go me.

I think all the good vibes people are sending are actually working. I’m feeling better than I have since before Christmas. Opportunities are opening up in front of me. I know, its the old chestnut about when one door closes another opens up. I’ve never really cared for that sentiment, but I’d like to think things seem to be going my way as of late.

Nothing is set in stone and it can all come crashing down on me, so I’ll quietly go back to my job of finding a new job. Keep sending good vibes.

Paranoia Will Destroy Ya

My parents are ying and yang. My father is quite the logical one and my mother is the over the top emotional one. They aren’t quite as extreme as that sounds, but in general it’s true. They work very well together because each complements the other.

My mother is a worrier. She remembers when my brother lost his wallet 15 years ago and used to remind him all the time about it. After it became something of a family joke, she’s finally realized she can silently worry about things, but not voice them. Of course, everyone can tell what she’s thinking. Sometimes her worries are unfounded, but not all the time. Sometimes she’s right on the mark and her thought processes are uncannily accurate.

My father thinks things through. He rarely gets emotional about a subject. He’s calm, cool and even. His voice is usually the one of reason. Of course, I’ve seen him go through a whole range of emotions. He handles the emotional outbursts of my Mom about as well as my Mom handles his logical reasonings. Like I said, they are ying and yang.

I think I’ve inherited both of these aspects and I manifest them at different times in a sort of check and balance between my ears. For example, I get paranoid at work when review time comes around even though I know I just had a glowing six-month review, my boss and her boss love what I’m doing and I love the creative freedom I’m given.

I went through a long stretch where I was told everything I wrote was crap. My confidence was frayed regarding the one thing I thought I was pretty good at. Even worse, it was what I was being paid to do. My friends continued to tell me I didn’t suck, but I needed an impartial third party to tell me I was good before I started believing it again.

I worry that I’ve let my head overtake my heart at times. I worry that I’ve let my emotions overtake my reason at times. I sorta kinda blame my parents for that dichotomy.

The idea of being alone at 40 bothers me, but I know I have friends and family who love me. I’ve failed at relationships, but I know it wasn’t always my fault. Still, I dwell on my failures although I try and learn from my mistakes. Of course, I overthink every little thing and can easily devolve into worry and fits of paranoia.

Being overly emotional and worried about something is no more worthwhile then being overly indifferent and logical. The bottom line is I’ve actually thought about these things about myself and knowing how I am allows me to, hopefully, react in the right way when I feel myself getting paranoid, overly worried or coldly indifferent.

The opposite of worry is confidence and the opposite of indifference is compassion. I’d like to think of myself as compassionate and confident, but its a tough line to walk.

I’m insanely jealous of the great relationships my friends and family have. My parents have a wonderful relationship and I long to have something like that for myself. I hope she’s out there. Someone told me once, “You have to take care of yourself first and good things will happen. You can’t appear desperate or needy because that stinks. You have to build confidence in yourself. You have to decide all by yourself that you are the right one, at the right time.”

Add in some compassion and I am the right one at the right time.