Samara Prywes ’17 and Her Book of Happy Things

happy book covers

It’s a tough thing to make an 8:30 am class happy, even the cheery subject of International Politics. But the other day, one of my classmates brought in this little composition book and passed it around. And you know what? It cheered me up, and the rest of the class too.

That classmate was Samara Prywes ’17, and the composition book was her “Happy Book”— which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Each line of the books is filled – or almost filled – with a simple statement or item that a person said made them happy. And a person maybe contributed a page, or only had a few points to add, then passed it on to the next person in class, and so on and so forth. By the end, it’s pretty much just a crowdsourced list of what improves people’s mood, or makes them smile, or makes their day, or fills them with that sense of fuzzy warmth. Just the little things, you know?

I asked Samara about the book, how she came up with the idea, and also some of her favorite inclusions:

I got the idea for it 2 summers ago at sleep-away camp. It was a camp fad. I ask pretty much all my friends to write in it, as well as anyone else who wants to. I don’t even know how many people have written in it so far, but it’s in the 6000s. [Writer’s note: I’m pretty sure my entries started round #6600.]

I think it’s great because people don’t think about what makes them happy enough. I’m talking about the simple things. Like:
1898: “when my dog falls asleep feet up”
2174: “waffle fries”
3146: “80s rock n’ roll music”
4519: “drake and josh”
4650: “when my house smells like brownies”

happy book 3I don’t remember all that I added to the book, but they were just what I came up with at 8:30 am on a Wednesday morning. Like “red pandas,” or “Natalie Portman,” or “when you have a tune stuck in your head and you sing it out loud and then your friends get that same song stuck in their heads.”

Does Samara read what you write? Well, of course— that’s part of the point. Happiness is one of those things that usually benefits everyone.  And it just reminds you of the things that you forget about when you’re sad, or angry, or whatever the reason.

It’s great to read when I’m feeling bummed out, and to know all the things that make my friends happy. It’s also something for me to remember people by. I would love if other people made happy books too. It’s definitely important to take the time to reflect on what we’re grateful for.

Maybe you’ll see Samara around, or know her in your classes. She’ll probably have her book with her, so take a minute or three and write down some of the things that make you happy in it. And take another minute to look at what other people wrote. You’ll see that you share a lot of the same things with other people. (I was going to write down “NPR,” until I saw that someone had already written it on the page previous. But maybe I should have put it down anyways. Too much of a good thing is great.)

Have anything cool that you do, or know any other student who’s doing something neat or cute? Let us know! Leave us a tip on our website, and spread the happiness. And check out a gallery of pages from Samara’s Happy Books below.

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