My daily quest for One Beautiful Thing (OBT)

About My OBT (One Beautiful Thing)

“Every day we get a fresh chance to live the way we want. We get a chance to do one amazing thing, one scary thing, one difficult thing, one beautiful thing. We get a chance to make a difference.”

– John Kenney, Truth In Advertising

Mom and Me, 1970

Mom and Me, 1970. And yes, she made those terrible rompers.

Introduction: Let me first say that I am not one of those aggressively-positive, sunshine-filled people who see the good in everything and just want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya all the time. I’m a standard-issue, moderately-brittle, smart-assed, happily-married, lesbian native New Yorker, capable of great kindness when the spirit (lower case “s”) moves me, but heaven (lower case “h”) help you if you are walking too slowly in front of me when I’m commuting. I make an effort to see the good before the bad, but I do my share of whining and if you are stupid, I am going to judge you to beat the band. I choose my friends like this (in order of importance): if you are funny (or capable of recognizing funny in others), intelligent (this is non-negotiable), exceptionally good to the people in your life, and judgmental ONLY of un-funny, unkind, and/or stupid people, we’ll do just fine.

The Problem: 2012 and 2013 really had it in for me. After a string of serious personal setbacks and losses resulting in some major health problems, my doctor told me to reduce my stress. How do doctors make that sound so easy?  I have a stressful job in a stressful city in a stressful industry. I am aware none of this makes me special. However, I need my stressful job. You know, to eat and stuff. My smarty-pants response to the doc was “Are you going to send me a check every month, or am I moving into your guest room?” “Ha-ha!” he said brightly, all the while backing out of the room. So no help there.

The Challenge: How was I supposed to reduce stress while still surrounded by the same stressors?  I needed a plan. I did some research, asked around. Yoga? I could maybe manage that once or twice a week, but I needed a daily solution. Breathing exercises? Handy during a panic attack, but not exactly life-changing. Medication? I try to resist such things unless I really need them. Liquor? Infinitely more appealing, but would eventually cause health problems of its own.  Also, not a great day-time solution, since I no longer work in radio or advertising.  I was at a loss. Then I happened to read the John Kenney novel, “Truth in Advertising.”

The Light Bulb: In the novel, two characters call each other to report the one scary thing, one difficult thing, one amazing thing, and one beautiful thing every day. Everyone has daily scary and difficult things, so I didn’t think anyone needed to hear about mine. However, the beautiful and amazing things really stuck with me. I began to wonder what would happen if I committed to spend every day looking for at least one beautiful thing? Would that change the way I looked at the world?  I tried it, and it did.

“Happiness is like an orgasm. If you think too much about it, it goes away.”  -Tim Minchin

Broad Channel after Hurricane Sandy, October 2012

Broad Channel three days after Hurricane Sandy, October 2012

The Results: I am changed for the better. The quest for beauty has been infinitely better for my state of mind and my blood pressure than the parade of worst-case scenarios that used to play on a loop in my head.  And most days, I find my stress level is more manageable. There’s something profoundly soothing about looking for beauty (and finding it).  Plus, now I have an excuse to haunt Etsy, and to troll the internet for fantastic stuff like bad-ass bionic prostheticsheartfelt artworkstrippy, trippy GIFsstunning fashions, and creative geniuses! And sometimes, I am moved to tell my favorite stories or talk about my favorite people.

The Caveat: Of course I am acutely aware that the ability to look on the bright side is a privilege. I have a roof over my head and enough to eat and a good job and love in my life. I know how lucky I am to enjoy those things, and I try not to take them for granted. For those of you who struggle with those things, I wish you good luck and better days.

The Conclusion: I think everyone should try it. It costs nothing, doesn’t take up any time, and doesn’t require anything of you except that you open your eyes to the beauty already in your life . Give it a shot. Oh, and tell a friend!


“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” -Herman Melville, “Moby Dick”

Post Script: Don’t worry, I’m still the same crotchety New Yorker I always was. I just smile more and panic a little less.

Post Post Script: I’ve been at this for 880+ consecutive days! Go check out my 1,000th post, my 100-day anniversary post for more on how my OBT has affected me and my 1-year anniversary and my 2-year anniversary posts for a few of my favorite things!

“I hate writing. I love having written.” – Dorothy Parker

Way Post-Script Confession: When I’m having a bad day or I’m worrying that my next post isn’t good enough (as much as I love it, Etsomnia™ gives me a weekly case of the yips), I come back here and read the comments people have made, and it gives me the boost I need to keep going!

397 thoughts on “About My OBT (One Beautiful Thing)

  1. Thanks for visiting my youngish blog TRAVELSWITHKAREN (an extension of my older one TRAVELWITHKAREN on a different platform, and still accessible). I loved your introduction to your blog. It is a philosophy that my grandfather drilled into me – look for the best in everyone and every day. That simple shift in attitude opens up a whole new world. Jim and I are having fun discovering all the good and interesting parts of our retired world. Karen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have spent my entire life looking for beauty every day, and sometimes capturing it. I learned that from my father who taught me how to “see”. Best of luck in your quest.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I can see hours of fun enjoying your beautiful finds! Thank you. I had a smile at your reference to someone walking slowly in front of you on the commute. I had the exact same issue today but overcame my urge to push them down the stairs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is beauty in your writing and in your attitude. Thank you for checking out our blog so I could read yours! Teresa

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Donna. Thanks for visiting my blog. I can’t stop looking at this beautiful boat picture of yours on your Homepage. It has coral and blue colors that are very appealing to me. I think your endeavour of conscientiously looking for beauty every day is a good quest everybody should embark on. Cheers. Géraldine

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Géraldine! The quest has certainly made life much more interesting. I still get anxious, but I have one uncomplicated thing to look forward to every day, and that makes it better somehow.

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!


  6. Thank you for visiting Redbacksandfloralgumboots. It’s been a tough year (2015) however after reading some of your stuff, my New Year’s resolution/s have become obvious to me. Hopefully I can be strong enough to stick to them.

    Great blog MyOBT.


  7. Holy crap, my mom sewed me rompers, too! Except I was forced to wear matching cable knit tights with them and then punished for always getting holes in the knees. They didn’t understand me.

    Now, I own the very same sewing machine that did the dirty deed and I’m slowly exorcising the 70s demons from it by making kimonos, ponchos, and wide legs pants. Without fucking tights.

    A little donation to your church:

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love the intent and vision for your blog! What a great way to move through each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Donna,

    I’m definitely a new fan of your blog! Love your attitude and sassiness! Keep it up.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: One Beautiful Thing | Wood vintage - Recycling Old Wood, Vintage style!

  11. Hi Donna, you were my first comment on my own blog ( I was curious and fell in love with your concept. I even wrote an article on your blog 🙂 (it’s here :

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Thanks for stopping by, following, and listening to the music on my blog! Enjoyed visiting your creative, quirky, fun blog. Think I’ll stick around and check in often. I could use a bit of stress reducing thoughtful content.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Fine piece of work my friend. Keep it up and please don’t neglect snarky.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for visiting and giving a like to TobyMac’s City on Our Knees. You have a great assembly here on your site. Great job.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Have NEVER experienced the online support you describe. Altho I did get a postcard of an illustrated guinea pig with a peg leg and a pirate eye patch and bandana… saying I was a quote “badass.”

    Wishing you well. Perusing the wordpress scene…

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I read this whole About section as “one beautiful thing”, and love the way you have approached hard times and personal challenges (which we all get our share of), and the way you share it. So many great quotes in there too (just the idea of making something scary and difficult on a daily basis is… well, pretty scary…)
    I’m glad I’ve come to know your blog, I look forward to be following!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Such a great idea for a blog. Love what you’re doing here!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks for sharing! Really like the pictures that you post as well..Beauty is truly in the eyes of the Beholder. I look forward to reading more. Check out when you get a chance. God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m happy you stopped by Nana’s Whimsies today. I’m hoping the picture of my adorable grandson was one of today’s beautiful thing. Your idea is inspiring. I am going to try myself to look for something beautiful each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for dropping by Chocobingsu! (: I read your “About” section and am both impressed and happy that you found such a simple but effective solution to reducing your stress! Will definitely try it together with my friends and family! Here’s to hoping that more people appreciate at least one beautiful thing in life each day! (:

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m not one of those aggressively positive sunshine filled people and I think this is an awesome idea for a blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I have to constantly throw in something darkly funny (or beautiful) so my friends and family don’t think I’ve lost my edge, but it’s a balance I enjoy. It’s a good exercise for me to keep blending the dark and the light. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting and most of all for getting it!


  22. what a truly wonderful site, Donna – not just OBT here, but gigantic lot of them! – am so glad I stumbled here 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Hi Donna, I love the concept of your blog, and your blog! What a great idea, to find one beautiful thing everyday. It’s nice to connect with you! I look forward to your posts. Take care, Jenny

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Amazing blog! I look forward to following.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I love your happy energy and zest for life 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Great idea and well done on 880+ days (or is it more now and I’m late to the OBT party??)
    Sounds similar to my Moments of joy i.e. being open to an ‘oh wow!’ moment every day.
    Thanks for putting OBT out into the blogosphere!


  27. Your attitude – and writing and picking one-day beauties – rocks. I get your priorities too. Hallelujah to beautiful things, wrapped up however they might be. Happy spring!!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I very much look forward to reading your blog. I love that you are human, what I mean by this is that you don’t wear rose colored glasses. You see the cruel and unfair realities of the world but you aren’t so blinded/consumed by them that you can’t also see the beautiful realities of the world as well. Not everyone has that ability. It is refreshing to come across people who do. I may start adding something similar to this in my blog. Thank you for your inspiration and a refreshing balance of reality.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I love what this blog is about. In my most stressful moments, Exercise, gratitude and focusing on whats going well has gotten me through. I wonder if taking it a step farther to a beautiful–not just good, but BEAUTIFUL–would have me searching for even more positives through out the day

    Liked by 1 person

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