July 2015 — Creativity, Mindfulness, and Small Steps to Happiness
As a child (and adolescent … and still to this day) catching a glimpse of something shiny out of the corner of my eye would grab my attention. Much to my parents’ dismay, I was incessantly picking up rocks, feathers, coins, gum wrappers, and found objects of all shapes and sizes. My affinity for shiny things hasn’t waned, but with access to the Internet and a network of intelligent, curious friends, my attention is now drawn toward articles, audio, books, and websites. These are the things that pique my interest, tickle my fancy, and change my world a little bit at a time.
April 2017 Note: I’ve been writing monthly installments of Shiny Things for nearly two years now (WOW). First they were written in gmail, and they currently live on Tiny Letter. I’m experimenting with moving them to Medium now :)
A perfect storm of inspiration hit me last week. First, I spent an entire day with my friend Andrea, and left with a page full of notes on new ideas, websites to explore, and books to read. Then, I listened to a podcast featuring Maria Popova (more on this later) and the advent of brainpickings.org (it started as an email newsletter to her friends). Last, I read a lovely little article about small steps to happiness, one of which was reconnecting with friends.
As you all well know, I don’t get to connect with you and share stories, ideas, and life updates nearly as often as I would like. In my perfect world I would only take long walks and drink tea with friends every day!
I put together a short list of things I’ve been loving recently (a podcast, an app, and an article). This was inspired by the idea of an email newsletter to friends (why don’t we do this!?). These are the things I’d normally share with you weeks from now, or whenever the conversation hits on a related topic that sparks my memory… but with the magical power of the Internet, I don’t have to wait. I’m sharing with the intention of enriching your lives in some way, but also because I want to start a conversation and keep it going- let me know what things you’re loving this week and what you think of the things I’ve found. Connecting with friends is essential to my happiness and this is an experiment in how to weave that into my life in different ways (especially for those of you that live far away!).
The Tim Ferriss Show
I always appreciate the way that Tim draws out interesting information and actionable tidbits from his guests, but a recent episode featuring Maria Popova (curator of brainpickings.org) just has me enamored. I’ve listened to it at least 4 times. It’s only 33 minutes, so do yourself a favor and soak up her wisdom about creativity and life.
Keep this app open all day and it keeps track of how long you spend looking at your phone. I am guilty of many purposeless glances at my phone throughout the day. Sometimes checking the time turns into 10 minutes spent on Facebook or Instagram. Knowing that this app is keeping tabs on my usage in the background adds some accountability that really makes me consider whether I’m about to use my phone to accomplish something or whether I’m just wasting precious time. Note: It’s only available for iOS devices right now.
16 Small Steps to Happiness
I originally saw this posted on Stephanie St. Claire’s facebook page (she’s the creative mind behind Blissbombed, which is another shiny thing that will be coming up at a later date).
I copied this list of small steps into a word document and had a copy printed on heavy paper and laminated so that I can put this on my bathroom mirror and see it every day. It’s a reminder that each and every little choice I make throughout the day can bring happiness into my life. Just this morning, while taking a walk and drinking tea (because I like to multi-task), the happiest, oldest little dog I’ve seen in a long time waddled right up to me to say good morning. Her enthusiasm was infectious and I thought “realize you can learn from your dog”. I imagined what it would be like to greet life with such unbridled enthusiasm. I can’t say that I’m going to bound into my next meeting bursting with excitement, but I did allow that feeling to wash over me as I finished up my walk, allowing myself to be in awe of things I often take fore granted; being able to take a quiet morning walk with a delicious cup of hot tea in hand, and being greeted by birds, squirrels, and spiders (so many spiders!) along the way. What’s not to be excited about??
Inspired by this list of small steps to happiness, I’d like to create our own. What 2 or 3 (or 5!) small steps to happiness would you add to this list? I’ll compile them and post a Small Steps to Happiness Manifesto, authored by my friends, which is really the one I want to live by.