Collected Any Warm Fuzzies Lately?

Bet you’re thinking, “Gee, I certainly hope not!” Sounds a little like something you might have to see the doctor for. That’s hardly the case. Warm fuzzies are something you definitely want, something everyone should collect. Their name alludes to something soft and cuddly, something that feels good… really good! And that’s exactly what they are.

I keep mine in a nondescript manila folder, in a cabinet. I take them out and look at them from time to time. Many are old, old friends, and it cheers me to no end to become reacquainted with them. They make me smile every time, guaranteed! What in the world is a warm fuzzy, you ask?

A warm fuzzy is something someone has said or done that makes you feel really good about yourself. It’s usually unexpected, and very welcome. Everybody should have a collection like this. You know why? Because we forget. We have a tendency to forget the wonderful things we’ve done to make others happy, and that’s very important to remember. It’s especially valuable when things aren’t going so well, and you’re feeling a little down.

There’ve been times in the past when I haven’t been feeling so good about myself and where I am in life, and perusing the contents of the warm fuzzy file always makes me remember the things I’ve accomplished and how appreciative people have been for my efforts. Usually by the time I get to the bottom of the file I’ve completely forgotten how sad I was at the beginning when I pulled it out.

So what’s in my warm fuzzy file? Let’s take a look and see… snippets of wisdom from all kinds of sources, comments from co-workers or clients when I’ve done a good job on a project, compliments on the window display at work (which I do with my co-worker, Ann), get-well cards, sympathy cards, friendship cards, cards of support, award certificates for my work from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, jokes others have shared, the first article I ever wrote, positive comments from my readers, a receipt from a caramel empanada I got free for being nice to someone in a drive-thru one day, a receipt from a free lunch at Wendy’s once when the credit machine wouldn’t work, a very sweet “While You Were Out” note from someone I never hear from anymore, sentiments on a card from flowers sent by my sweetheart, silly photo booth pictures from friends I’ve lost touch with, and hey, this is always lovely… praise for my weekly column.

One of the neatest things in the file is a copy of the Google logo from Nov. 11, 2008. They had made a logo with some of the letters wearing a hat from each division of the military. However, there were only four hats. Being married at the time to a veteran of the Coast Guard, I contacted Google and told them they had forgotten a hat, and thus an entire division of the military that is typically overlooked in many media promotions. I really didn’t think anything would come of it, but later that afternoon I rechecked the site and found they had added the Coast Guard hat! That was really neat and made me feel like I had made a difference to many who had served our country. And all because I took a few minutes to say something to Google about it. Now that is a golden warm fuzzy!

Of course, this file is more work related, and I have another at home with more personal moments in it, but you get the idea. It’s important to reflect on what we have brought to the table over the years, because our lives have a definite effect on the world and it’s good to recall these moments from time to time. It’s amazing what we forget, and it’s also amazing how quickly the file fills up once we take the time to start it.

Another item I have similar to this is an envelope titled “Instant Happiness.” It began with outtakes from years of building the family photo albums. I would make doubles of everything so I would have one to keep and one to give away to the person in the photo, or the grandparents, depending on who was in the shot. This group of memories works very similarly to the warm fuzzy file, and really reins in the emotions when you are falling down the rabbit hole.

As you might imagine, these are photos of a little boy and girl painting pictures in the kitchen, or posing with their favorite Christmas gifts, playing out in the driveway with cars or drawing with chalk, or having an adventure running around the rocks in the Plover River at Jordan Park. Lovely moments of family vacations, or happy times at Grandma’s house, picking daisies in Grandpa’s field while the horse grazes in the background, frolicking in the autumn leaves, posing in new clothes on the first day of school. Silly moments between brother and sister up at a friend’s cabin on the lake, favorite family members hugging at my sister’s wedding, a group of tired kids after a soccer match, sleeping on the bed with the dog, riding an elephant at the renaissance fair, and, of course, years of awesome hand-made Halloween costumes.

I don’t know how many times I’ve pulled out these photos and perused them, but I know that every time I do, no matter how I am feeling at the moment, I feel much, much better and very loved when I’m done. I remember that I’ve lived a very full life that has been filled with lovely moments, because only a fraction of them have been captured in my files and photos. A wonderful gift to myself, considering it didn’t really cost much at all, and only took a few seconds of time to create.

Start a warm fuzzy file for yourself, and see what gathers. Better yet, start thinking about generating a warm fuzzy or two for the people in your life who are doing a great job and might not realize how much you appreciate them. It might be someone you don’t even really know. It’s a good idea to start right now, today. Maybe that’s why they say, “Today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present.”

Originally published February 8, 2013.

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