It's May 2020. You've been quarantined with the rest of the country for the better part of the first quarter. Maybe your family/roommates is getting on your nerves.  Maybe you're simply missing going outside. Whatever the reason, it's easy to assume that your nerves are probably being frayed and tested as the days go on.

This is, of course, absolutely normal, but it can feel like the world is coming down around you in these trying times.  Personally, I find sometimes that I can lose sight of the positives in a day when something comes along that throws off my groove, especially now.  And while this is normal, I can't help but think it's not healthy.

But what can we do about it? How can we, as individuals, confront what often feels like a constant wave of negative emotions?

At the end of the day, I'm a software engineer. I'm not equipped to answer these kinds of questions at a grand scale, but I've wanted to do at least a small part for awhile now.  I racked my brain for something, but it wasn't until I was reminded of a "game" (for lack of a better word) I played with a friend from college years ago that I was able to come up with a solution.

Back in 2014 a friend of mine wasn't in a great place.  They were relentlessly negative about themselves and their situation.  So they came up with a plan: Every day we would trade one good thing that happened to us that day. In doing so we agreed that it would help both of us focus on and enshrine the good parts of the day.  And it worked. For both of us.  Having to sort through all the good things that happened to us during the day to pick only one helped enforce that good things do happen, and sharing it with each other let us have a kind of living record that we could review by chatting.

At the time I fell in love with the idea.  I had grand ambitions to create a social media site focused on it, but to be blunt I simply didn't have the experience or drive for something like that.  And so I put it to the side, forgot about it.  And that brings us to a few days ago when I was clamoring for a project to do, something that wouldn't require a back-end, something that would let me explore PWAs a bit more.  I was reminded of the nice thing "game" when chatting with some friends about feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  So I built One Nice Thing, a webapp that replicates the nice thing game.  The site allows you to add a new "nice thing" every day, and creates an on-going list of immutable events that you can view whenever you choose.  Additionally, the site can be installed on your device, and is completely usable offline.

More importantly, the data you put in never touches any device outside of your control.  There is no back-end data store, there is no account, no login.  All the data is stored locally in a Redux store that's hydrated in and out of local storage.  The site doesn't do so much as even send tracking data.  Furthermore, the entire site is open source.

It isn't much.  I'm under no illusion of this being a world changing application, but I do hope that someone out there finds some use and solace in it.  Stay safe in these trying times, and keep coding!

About the author

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash