Happy Habits

One morning, while settling into my office chair and gazing at a pair of house finches right outside the window, my phone rang. Recognizing the name of a company I had worked with for many years, an immediate feeling of dread filled the pit of my stomach. One of our former coworkers has a terminal illness and I immediately feared bad news.


Jean Marie?


Hey, how ARE you?

Um, fine. Is everything alright?

Yeah. What’s the matter? Is something wrong?

I just thought that maybe something bad has happened…you know.

We haven’t spoken in like a year, girlfriend, that’s BAD ENOUGH, and someone at the office mentioned your name, so, here I am.

My sense of relief was palpable and audible on the other end of the line. For the next 72 minutes, we reconnected, shared huge belly laughs, and caught up on each other’s lives. All too soon it seemed, we were out of time. I had so many more questions I wanted to ask and news I wanted to share. Did your son finish his Ph.D? Whatever happened to what’s his face? Did I tell you about my nephew?  That unexpected call made my day and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. In fact, I can’t stop thinking I want more of that.

The lesson isn’t lost on me. We want more of a lot of things. More time, more money, more health, more peace of mind, more chocolate. The real question is: do we want them badly enough to get them? We already know that we will have more time by clearing out less important activities. More money by spending less and saving more. More health by making conscious choices about diet and exercise. You get the picture. It all comes down to which of our wants make the cut, how badly we want them, and what we are willing to give or give up to do so.

Here’s what I know: I don’t want to let those belly-laugh friendships forged in other chapters of my life to live only in my fading and inexact memories. So, do I wait another year or two or three for an old friend or former colleague to reach out, or do I take action?  I can make taking action a happy habit, one that brings me joy and nurtures my connection to people I enjoy and care about. How different would your day-to-day life be if you adopted just a few happy habits?

A Handful of Happy Habits  

Here’s a trio of “happy habits” to consider:

Be fierce about staying connected – Make those calls, send those texts, get on Zoom, send that funny card in the mail, lean over the fence and wave. Your emotional, cognitive, and physical health will thank you for it.

Spend time with Mother Earth – Walk, bike, jog, or hell, just sit out there and take it all in. There is a world of mystery and delight that surrounds us. Watch your attitude improve and your spirits lighten.

Practice positive self talk – Trust me. It’s never too late.  Learn to catch yourself when that negative feedback starts to mess with your self- esteem. Think of it as an expression of self- care.

But please don’t stop here. Ask yourself: What do I want more of? Then listen to your heart’s response.


“Smell the roses. Smell the coffee. Whatever it is that makes you happy.”

– Rita Moreno,

Stage and Screen Star


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