A Year of #OneGoodThing


On October 27, 2018, a gunman opened fire in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, killing 11 congregants.


October 27 was a Saturday, and our neighborhood trick-or-treating was that evening. My husband and I took our sons, dressed as Miles From Tomorrowland and Batman, door-to-door. I remember a sense of unreality that evening. J and I were grieving and trying to keep our bone-deep sadness from affecting the kids. All around us, life literally went on as kids joyously ran from house to house to get their candy.


The following day, our rabbi tried to help us make sense of a senseless act during the children's religious school service. But I was still despairing.


Sunday afternoon, I decided to try a little laughter therapy. I put on Monty Python's Flying Circus while I folded laundry to try to stop the negative swirl of my thoughts. But even though I love me some bizarro British humor, I couldn't shake my sadness to laugh.


About 15 minutes into watching, the boys were attracted to the living room by the sound of the TV. And to my surprise, they laughed. Giant, gut-busting guffaws. Much of Monty Python's humor sailed over their heads, but the incredible sight of a 6'5" John Cleese employing his patented silly walk through London was exactly the kind of funny the kids love best. And their laughter was so sweet that I felt a little better.


Instead of feeling divorced from their joy, as I did during trick-or-treating, I was part of it. Their infectious laughter brought me out of my despair, at least for a few moments, and I knew it was okay to celebrate the little joys even in the midst of grief. I also knew that I should start looking for one good thing every day: the moment when I am fully present with something that is good, just like my boys' laughter.



I have been posting #OneGoodThing every day since then.


It's been a year of daily good things, and I am better for it. This practice has ensured that I do not lose sight of the beauty of the world. This world may be broken, but it is also wondrous. And it is so important to remember that, especially on days when the brokenness feels insurmountable.


I plan to continue sharing my good things each day, and I hope you'll join me. Because taking the time to appreciate the good things in your life should be what it's all about.


What's your #OneGoodThing today?

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Milwaukee, WI

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© 2020 by Emily Guy Birken