“I urge you to notice when you’re happy, and think, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

A sunset, a cold beer, a moment with your kids. Here's Kurt Vonnegut's two-step process for expressing gratitude.

“I urge you to notice when you’re happy, and think, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”

“I urge you to notice when you’re happy, and think, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’” 1024 768 Looking out Loud

This is part of the DadQuotes series, where I roundup the best quotes from famous figures, insightful authors, and my quickly growing kids, and apply them to the job of parenting.


It might be a sunset or a rainbow. Or it can be as simple as stepping outside with just the right clothes for today’s weather.

Or maybe you’re laughing with your kids, enjoying a friend’s company, or taking that first sip of a really cold beer.

A moment of happiness, the presence of peace. When it happens, bring to mind these words from Kurt Vonnegut:

“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.’”
— Kurt Vonnegut*

It’s a simple two-step process:

  1. First, notice. Notice that things are good. Notice the feeling of pleasure. Notice today’s perfect temperature. Notice the art project your child is sharing with you.
  2. Then, say thank you. To the person you’re with, for the life you live, to the reality you’ve been blessed with, to the God you feel must be there.

And if none of those feel like the right objects of gratitude, that’s okay too. Simply murmur to yourself, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’


*Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis (just like me, but 58 years earlier in 1922). He wrote some pretty wild stories. This quote comes from his book A Man Without a Country—a collection of often hilarious essays, bordering on memoir, of Vonnegut’s thoughts life, art, sex, politics, and the soul of America.



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