There’s a great scene in the book, A Man Without A Country, where Kurt Vonnegut writes:
“But I had a good uncle, my late Uncle Alex. He was well-read and wise. And his principal complaint about other human beings was that they so seldom noticed it when they were happy. So when we were drinking lemonade under an apple tree in the summer, say, and talking lazily about this and that, almost buzzing like honeybees, Uncle Alex would suddenly interrupt the agreeable blather to exclaim, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
So I do the same now, and so do my kids and grandkids. And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
Theodore Roosevelt had his own word-one mantra to capture this feeling. Whether he was riding horses, writing books, or playing with his children, any time a moment of joy or excitement found him, he’d slap his belly and exclaim, “Delighted!”
He was so well-known for this phrase that the US Postal Service released this best selling postcard in 1908:
This habit is something I’ve gotten better at incorporating into my life over the last year, but I still struggle to remember the power it has.
This last week, my wife, Ava, and I moved into a new beautiful home in San Diego. It’s a far nicer home than I ever thought I’d live in. We can see and smell the ocean from our front porch. I don’t say this to brag, but to confess: I’ve allowed a lot of happiness to slip through the cracks this first week.
Between unpacking, budgeting new house stuff, and finishing the book, I managed to spend more time in my head than in the house itself. I hadn’t stopped to look around to say, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”
There are plenty of not-so-nice things happening in the world right now, but I urge you to take a moment, wherever you are, and find something to be delighted! about.
It goes a long way.
I’m writing this to you from the backyard of what I’ll call home for now. Soon, we’ll eat lunch and walk down to the beach. And if that isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.