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The Importance of Day One

I have a very tiny pocket-sized planner that I adore. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are on the left side. Thursday – Sunday, the right. On Wednesday night, I rip the left page out and it almost feels like a new week begins halfway through. 

In December 2019, I made a photo calendar for 2020, filled with my favorite photos from that year. Even though I made the calendar, flipping to a new month with memories and pictures of people I adore brings me a sort of surprised joy. 

New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. A sucker for sentimentality and fresh starts, I love it all. Give me Auld Lang Syne, show me Harry meeting Sally, and let me bang pots and pans at midnight. It’s invigorating. 

And yet the most consequential thing I have done in my life didn’t happen on a well-rehearsed Sunday night. It wasn’t part of my morning routine or my December 31st ritual. 

The most life-changing action I ever took happened around 3:30 PM on a Wednesday in November. If you’re familiar with The Smile Project, you know this story, so I’ll summarize it pretty quickly here for those who may not. 

On November 9th, 2011, at 17-years-old, I made a Facebook status: “Day 1: Happiness is.. those perfect car rides where the radio just plays all the right songs.” I didn’t have a plan. It wasn’t written on my to-do list. There were no colored pen notes on a calendar. I was simply happy. And I wanted to share. 

I’ve been recording daily joy on my social media (and in my trusty notebooks) every single day since. 

When I talk about The Smile Project, I make it really clear that I had no idea what I was doing. No intention to start a nonprofit. No concept of what that could look like. But I started. And my only regret is that I didn’t start documenting daily joy sooner.

You don’t have to have it all figured out to get started. And I promise you, those first 7, 12, 48, 100 days are going to be messy. Sometimes you’ll stare at a blank notebook for what feels like hours, wondering why you thought this was a good idea. 

But then one day you’ll be doing something simple—like pouring a bowl of Cheerios—and you’ll realize how fantastic it is when the milk to cereal ratio is exactly as you want it. And you’ll smile. And you’ll think that maybe that could be your joy today. Milk & cereal. 

We get to write our own stories. We are in charge of chronicling our lives. I’ll take the milk & cereal memories. I’ll take the joy. 

The Smile Project has launched an ambassador program filled with folks from around the world who are focused on finding gratitude and living a life filled with kindness, love, justice, and joy. We’d love to welcome you into this community. Learn more here.

Love always,



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