Can You Name 99 Things You Love in 10 Minutes?

Girl Kissing Boy

Last November, some people took the 30-day Gratitude Challenge, that is they named one thing they were thankful for every day through the thirty days of the month.

It’s a cool idea and I may try it one of these months (I definitely do not have to wait until next November). The thing about these kinds of events is that it makes you dig below the surface and recognize things you weren’t even consciously aware of about yourself.

An exercise I call “Name 99 Things I Love,” can help you in all kinds of ways, too.  You get a sense of what’s important in life, where your priorities lie and what brings you joy. For a writer—of memoir, fiction or straight nonfiction—it can also help you find your personality. Your distinct voice.

I keep this list on the wall by my computer screen. When I need a break from writing, it reminds me of all the things in life I take for granted. So, in a way, it’s a gratitude list, too.

 99 Things I Love

  1. Feeding peanuts to squirrels
  2. Watching 1930s screwball comedies
  3. The smell of a bold roast coffee brewing
  4. Writing my life stories
  5. Learning how to juggle
  6. Teaching something new, to anyone
  7. Going on a day car trip with Bob, with no business involved
  8. Painting with watercolors
  9. Black licorice
  10. New car smell
  11. Taking a walk on a foggy fall day
  12. Snow globes
  13. Writing thick, gloppy letters with a fountain pen
  14. A first grader’s missing-tooth grin
  15. Reading early 20th Century classics
  16. Crows
  17. The smell of new-cut firewood
  18. Making paper snowflakes
  19. Walking in the woods behind our house
  20. Any song by Ella Fitzgerald
  21. Watching my daughter perform in a stage play
  22. Making my husband laugh
  23. Making anybody laugh
  24. Red-sky sunsets
  25. The smell of lilies
  26. Making popping noises with that bubble wrap stuff
  27. Lap time with Booda the cat
  28. Seeing my breath on a cold day
  29. Homemade veggie pizza
  30. Discussing political candidates and issues
  31. Exercising to the Pavarotti & Friends for Bosnia Concert CD
  32. The Manhattan skyline
  33. Walking the beach on a stormy day
  34. Judy Collins’s version of “Send in the Clowns”
  35. Slightly tart wild blackberry pie
  36. Canadian spelling
  37. Watching old Hitchcock movies
  38. Flannel pajamas
  39. Canada geese flying low over the water
  40. The sound of rain on the roof
  41. The smell of a cedar tree
  42. Veggie spring rolls with red chili sauce
  43. Encouraging new writers
  44. Watching improv comedy
  45. Turning down the sound on old movies and making up new lines of dialogue
  46. Laughing until I cry
  47. Getting caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella
  48. Those scented marking pens
  49. Double tall, slightly dry, nonfat cappuccinos
  50. Getting the letter “Q” in a Scrabble game
  51. Chocolates with a caramel center
  52. Central Park in the spring
  53. Browsing in one of NYC’s antique book shops
  54. Globes
  55. A loud  thunderstorm
  56. Penguins—real or drawn
  57. The sound of a baby’s laugh
  58. Writing longhand in journals
  59. Reading poetry out loud
  60. World maps
  61. Smiling at a child in a grocery store
  62. Reading a memoir—any memoir
  63. The smell of a fresh-baked molasses cookie
  64. Buying the biggest Christmas tree on the lot
  65. A crackling fire
  66. Art produced by 5-year-olds
  67. Hot Tamales (the candy)
  68. Reading obituaries and wondering what they left out
  69. Watching a documentary on the making of a movie
  70. Spotting a bald eagle
  71. Sunlight on stained glass windows
  72. Going through my old high school yearbooks
  73. The taste of a good artichoke
  74. Scented candles
  75. Sending handwritten letters
  76. A double shot of espresso
  77. The Metropolitan Museum of Art—any exhibit, anytime
  78. Backyard birds waking me up
  79. Baby raccoons
  80. The smell of asphalt after a summer rain
  81. Snow falling on cedars (not the book—actual snow falling on cedars)
  82. Going down playground slides
  83. Scottish bagpipes
  84. Walking on an icy puddle to hear the cracking sound
  85. Trenchcoats
  86. The lonely sound of a ferry’s foghorn
  87. Eavesdropping to catch interesting lines of dialogue
  88. A star-filled night in Mali
  89. Notecards with Impressionist art
  90. Libraries
  91. The Washington (DC) National Zoo
  92. The cartoons in The New Yorker magazine
  93. Old clocks
  94. A chilled vodka martini with a lemon twist
  95. Making snow angels
  96. The song “Danny Boy”
  97. Tree houses
  98. Blowing bubbles
  99. Sounds of a children’s choir

Do you think a list this size would be hard to create?

Are any of these on your list, too?

Any that aren’t on my list?

Make sure you don’t miss a post.


  1. Joan Z. Rough November 13, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    What a great idea, Judy. I’m going to do this tonight. We have a lot of things in common.


    • Judy Lee Dunn November 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

      It is always amazing to me the things that people have in common and we do not know it. I think I could have gone on with at least ten more things after I reached #99. We should all publish our lists on our own blogs. That would be fun!


  2. Wynn Collins November 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    I loved reading your list, Judy! We like many of the same scents like chopped firewood, molasses cookies and asphalt after rain–to name a few. Sometime I feel like I’m so blah and well, boring. Maybe putting a list together will remind me of ME!


    • Judy Lee Dunn November 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

      Making a list like this shows us just how unique we are. And I think it showed me that I see the world through all my senses, having a number of sound/smell/touch things in there, too. When you finish your list, hang it up so you can be reminded of all the things you cherish!


  3. Di Mace November 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    I love all your list, but have three additions for it: Vanilla (taste and smell), smell of fresh baked bread (especially with butter) … and shoes!


    • Judy Lee Dunn November 13, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

      Well, fresh-baked bread would be right up there for me, too. (Not so much the vanilla and the shoes.) Hmm. I’m thinking I could probably do a Part 2. Great to see you here again, my friend.


      • Di Mace November 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

        Nice to talk again. I’ve missed our weirdly wired exchanges!


  4. Tara Therese November 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Yes, that’s a great idea. I used to keep a gratitude journal and would write 5 – 15 things everyday that I was grateful for. I’ve stopped the practice so your challenge is great for reminding me of how blessed I am.

    I just wrote 99 things I love. Did you really take ten minutes to write that whole list? I took 16 mins and my list was not as detailed as yours! They were mostly just single word nouns. I guess I type slowly.


  5. Judy Lee Dunn November 13, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    This IS close to a gratitude journal, isn’t it? On the ten minutes, I just made that my reader challenge. I’d say it took me more like 15 minutes.

    Glad you were up to the challenge!


  6. Kaarina Dillabough November 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    I am taking you up on the challenge. Stay tuned 🙂 Cheers! Kaarina


    • Judy Lee Dunn November 14, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      That’s great to hear! Please keep me posted on that. Am heading over to your blog next to read your new post.


  7. Valerie Rind November 16, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    I DISLIKE many things on this list (I particularly hate Scottish bagpipes) and yet we are friends. It just shows you don’t need to have everything in common to have a connection with someone.


  8. Judy Lee Dunn November 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm #


    Exactly. And it would be boring if we all loved the same things, wouldn’t it? Some of the things I love do break out more on the sad side (bagpipes, foghorns, etc.). I wonder why that is?


  9. Sandi Amorim November 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Love this idea! Making a note to set timer later today, so stay tuned 😉


    • Judy Lee Dunn November 27, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      Good to hear, Sandi. It is always interesting to compare different people’s lists. Have fun!


  10. Julie Barrett November 30, 2013 at 6:44 am #

    I love this idea! Moreover, we have a ton in common. This list makes me remember many, many fine times. I will definitely take you up on the challenge, although I doubt very much I will dash it off in 10 minutes. Feels more like something to savor, revisiting the past and planning the future.


  11. Judy Lee Dunn December 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    That’s one of the best parts of this isn’t it? Finding common ground with other people. I like the slow, deliberate approach you are suggesting. Each thing on your list deserves some attention.

    Good luck with that list!


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