Get weekly newsletter updates from Gretchen.

A secret to happiness: “Be a storehouse of happy memories.”

A secret to happiness: “Be a storehouse of happy memories.”

Today is the Big Girl's last day of second grade. She's thrilled, but for me, as always with these milestones, it's bitter-sweet. The days are long, but the years are short.

One of my resolutions is to "Be a storehouse of happy memories," and one tradition that I started years ago, almost accidentally, was taking a photograph on the first and last day of school each year. I have the Big Girl (and starting next year, the Little Girl) hold up a sign that says "Last day of second grade—June 14, 2007" or whatever.

It makes a great keepsake. I wish that I'd been organized enough to start a special photo album, just with these pictures, so we could more easily see the changes over the years. I didn't think to do that, so they're just sprinkled in the albums among the other pictures, but they're still fun to see.

Research shows that a good way to boost happiness is to reflect on happy times in the past, and looking at photographs—or any other memento—is a good way to prompt your recollections.

Also, although taking a photo is easy and takes only a second, the tradition of making the sign and taking the photograph adds a little bit to the special quality of these first/last days, and that's important to me, because I want my children to understand the importance of school.

I make extra copies and send them off to the grandparents, too. So little work, so many happiness resolutions fulfilled!

icon emailNewsletterLight

One Last Thing

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. I share ideas for being happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative.

icon schooled

Find out if you’re an Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or a Rebel.

The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t actOur Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding your Tendency lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively.

Take the quiz

Get My Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to get my free weekly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here, my Facebook Page, and new original work.