To brew some magic.

Habits of Happiness

To brew some magic.

There are things you do that make you happy. Some of them may be big and complex. Some may be difficult and rewarding. But others are simple. Make a habit of those simple activities.

Of the many habits I’ve formed over the years, four simple habits stand out. I don’t do them because I have to. I do them because I want to. They make me disproportionately happy.

***

If you don’t know where it is you’re going
Then any road you pick will take you there
It’s not always best to go unknowing
But other times you have no need to care
Perhaps you go not far out from your stead
To see the neighborhood you know so well
You wander the streets that you often tread
Enjoying the sights and the pleasant smell
Perhaps adventure is the direction
Daring to go where you have not yet been
You choose to risk a newer perception
Taking a look to see what lies within
No matter where you choose to take your stroll
You extend the beauty within your soul

I love to wander. With no agenda or pressure for time, I walk. Sometimes I have a destination, but not always. Sometimes I go to places I’ve never been before, but often I just travel the familiar paths of my neighborhood.

Wandering gives me space to process life. I reflect on recent events or ideas.

Wandering gives me the chance to see beauty. The other day, I noticed how pretty the blue sky was.

Wandering gives me activity. It gets me out of the house and moving.

***

Before the boiling kettle whistles done
Take of the finest beans a scoop or three
Grind them until of whole beans you have none
And revel in the smell of coffee
Mix grains and water in the press of France
And let about four minutes pass away
Feel free to take up the happy dance
For it’s time to press the drink, hooray
Pour forth into the mug this treasured drink
Take in the pleasant smell of swirling steam
Savor with silence as you sit and think
And let the magic take you while you dream
Refine craft with measure and a timer
For of coffee this is but a primer

I used to dislike coffee – probably because it was always cheap and bitter. Recently though, I’ve found it to be a joy. With quality beans and a deliberate state of mind, it is often the highlight of my afternoon.

When I drink it, I am still. There’s no need to rush.

When I drink it, I am alone. Sometimes I’ll have a cup with someone else, but I love to sit by myself at home or in a coffee shop. I am more than enough company.

When I drink it, I am silent. I listen. I observe.

***

They say that you cannot yet teleport
Off to a place in distant time or space
They say that you can’t instantly transport
Off to an another world without a trace
But they don’t know the magic of pages
Which take you into a world of their own
But they don’t speak the wise words of sages
Which carry you through the worlds not yet known
The storyteller lends her craft and skill
To take you on a journey near and far
You let her guide you through the land until
You reach an ending wondrous and bizarre
Happy you place the book back on the shelf
Coming again to the world of yourself

Stories are wonderful. They show you different realities and possibilities. They teach you how to live. They reveal who you are. One of my favorite sources for stories is a novel.

Give me a good book, and I’ll disappear into the world within the pages:

Oh, it’s time to have dinner. OK. Let me finish my chapter.

Oh, it’s time to go to bed. OK. Let me finish the book.

***

Some days I write the silliest of things
Pouring laughter into the words I write
Some days I write upon the dance of wings
A touch of play rests in my dizzy flight
Some days I write words full of sadness great
Filling the pages with sorrowful tears
Some days I write out of a joyful state
A hope and delight in word form appears
Some days I write to reflect on the day
Saying what of it is worthy to note
Some days I write of the issues to weigh
And see if they’re such that I should promote
Of the subject I do not care a bit
So long that writing is still a habit

I write at least 750 words every day in my journal – without any restrictions. Sometimes, it’s a reflection on the day. Other times, it’s a musing on something I’ve been thinking about. It doesn’t matter what. The important thing is that I write.

Occasionally, I’m tired and don’t want to write, but usually, I look forward to it. Getting lost in the flow of words is magic. Disappearing into the depths of my heart is magnificent. I find truth, and that makes me happy.

It’s a simple habit, but has made a big difference. I’ve come to understand who I am. I’ve learned more about how to help others. I’ve grown my character. The steps add up. Since I started, I’ve written over 200,000 words.

***

What makes such moments so lovely? Why are they so full of life and joy?

They are tied to your core. Being alone is a space for rest and recovery for me. Writing in a notebook, sitting with coffee, reading a book, and wandering without aim give me quiet. I connect with who I am. I find strength and energy.

They are easy. With little planning or expense, you can start any of them. Writing takes nothing more than a pen and paper or computer. Brewing a cup of coffee is as simple as going to the kitchen or a cafe. Reading a book means sitting down and pulling a book from the shelf. Wandering outside involves slipping into shoes, grabbing a coat, and walking out the door. Each activity has low barriers.

They are free from the constraints of time. Humans are not designed for completely regimented and rigid lives. You need moments of freedom. The simple activities of happiness require little planning, you can start whenever you want. Likewise, you can stop whenever you want. Well, mostly – sometimes a good book is hard to put down.

They are free from expectation. There is no goal. There is no agenda. The worst that can happen when reading a book is that you don’t enjoy it and have to find another one. The worst that can happen when wandering is that you get lost and have to ask for directions. No one will judge you – not even yourself.

They are a source of inspiration for the rest of your life. I get great ideas and thoughts when I read, write, walk, or sit. In the freedom of the activity, your mind pays more attention to your heart and your heart to your mind.

They have an element of unexpected. Despite the frequency of the activity, each time brings something different. I never know what I’ll see on my walk. A few days ago, I discovered a beautiful place to sit. Because of the unexpected, doing them never gets old or boring. Each time is interesting.

They can fit into your routines and habits. You enjoy them, so you build them into your day. If we are what we repeatedly do, why not be happy?

***

What are the activities that make you disproportionately happy? How do you build them into your life?

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To brew some magic. I made this photo in Chicago, IL.

6 thoughts on “Habits of Happiness”

  1. Lovely Joshua,

    Walk the streets, paths, grasses, sand
    skid the shiny surfaces beneath
    travel, explore, smell, taste, touch, sense … and
    lifes treasures explode above, below, around, betweeneth

    Thank you 😉

  2. I call those times ‘magic times’ when time seems to stand still and the moment holds everything I could possibly need or want. The right people, the right place, the right activities and no other needs. Magic.

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