Keeping Track of Surprise Joys

May 10th – “Received ‘Happy Birth Month’ wishes out at dinner with friends”

May 11th – “Got up early just to see the sunrise. Beautiful!”

May 12th – “Saw a young Eurasian Eagle Owl in person! Still fluffy!”

Some of our best friends surprised Jonathan and me with an invitation to join their family on a May vacation to Sea Island, Georgia to kick off my birthday month. The wonderful flat and wide beach was just made for playing Pétanque, building sand castles, riding bikes and finding whole conch shells and sand dollars. Before dinner each evening we made it a habit to gather on the terrace to share our favorite thing from the day. We recounted seeing beautiful brown bunnies, dolphins, birds, children splashing in the pool, sunrises, moonrises and sunsets. Shining moments illumine our lives, but unless we stop to note their wonder, they fade into the past.

30 years ago, our friend Sam Hummel realized that his “harried lifestyle provided more frustration than joy” and he was missing out on living each day to the fullest. That all changed when a friend suggested that Sam practice the art of living the “life of surprise joys.” A big part of that advice was to start keeping a journal of the joyful moments of each day – whether big or small. Sam took that advice to heart and printed up hundreds of books “Surprise Joys” with a line for each day of the month.

We’ve been using Sam’s books for years and so, with his blessing, we took his idea and expanded it to our rendition of Surprise Joys. We got together with designer Walker Cahall and Scout Books to make a journal with one line for each day along with with some additional space for jotting down movies you’d like to see or books to read, a space for goals, dreams and other notes. See below:

Last week my high school friend Carol introduced me to her friend Dee who will soon make Greensboro her home. We had dinner, and as we got to know each other through life stories, she explained how she experienced terrible losses one year and during the time of grieving she was selected to participate in a resilience workshop at Duke University School of Medicine. The cornerstone of the program included writing down three good things that had taken place during the day. The workshop has been so successful that it has launched nationally to encounter workplace and personal burnout. It’s worth noting that the other two cornerstones of the program are showing gratitude and rediscovering awe. You can read about it here. With great excitement, I put a Surprise Joy book in Dee’s hand and an extra copy for my friend Carol in Raleigh.

If you would like a Surprise Joy book (or 10!), just let us know ( or 336-272-9488). We would love to send you one or several to share with friends or family. All books will be delivered free of charge!

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Anne Smith

Anne Smith

Partner, CCO, Client Advocate at Smith Partners Wealth Management
Anne joined Smith Partners Wealth Management in 1988 just to help out with whatever the company needed but predictably, soon she became interested in our clients and how she could be part of the team to help them. Anne works with clients from the earliest interview stages through their financial lifetime – listening, probing, asking the hard questions, seeking the root causes of problems, and solving a wide range of financial challenges.
Anne Smith