A recent story by Sarah Hampson – Is being happy simply a matter of habit? – has me thinking about how happiness can be turned into a routine. Hampson writes that rituals and routines play an important part in creating a sense of well-being. “A friend of mine, who lives alone, has a habit of starting her day with a beautiful breakfast that she cooks carefully for herself,” writes Hampson. “She sets the table. She puts on classical music. She sits amidst a collection of flowering plants, the perfection of their blossoms is a source of joy and quiet contemplation, she says. It’s about setting up her day with calmness; holding the world at bay until she’s ready to enter it.” Apparently, part of Winston Churchill’s happiness routine involved a whiskey and soda every day around noon.
Happiness, like so many other things, can be part of a practice, and the first step is identifying what it is that makes you happy. Think of the small things, like picking your own berries or walking your friend’s dog or sitting in front of a fireplace. If you really love these things, shouldn’t you do them as often as possible?
For me, my happiness habits include: reading a book or magazine while lingering over a double espresso in a cafe; taking a long walk just after it’s finished raining; making (and eating) homemade pizza; maximizing any possible hammock time; reading the Sunday paper with several mugs of coffee; regular, gossipy brunches with my friends and regular, gossipy phone calls with my brother; writing down the funny things that happen; having a scotch on the front steps, to watch the world go by, either just before dinner or just before bed (or, on lucky occasions, both); and listening to podcasts in the tub. It’s not glamourous, I know. But these are a sampling of the little things that make me happy.
So have you figured out the little things that make you happy, and do you do them on a regular basis?