I profiled the article, 7 Habits of Incredibly Happy People, in my Friday Faves a few months ago. I am not certain if I necessarily strive for happiness, but I push toward seeking contentment. But I’ve realized contentment looks different for all of us. I decided to ponder each point in Gregory Ciotti’s piece to decide how relevant his truths were to my life.

Be busy, but not rushed: I dislike the word “busy.” I make my choices based on what is important to my well-being and those decisions are a part of living life. I don’t quantify this as “busy.” In midlife, I’ve focused on what means the most to me and have tried to carve out a life where I participate in activities and interact with people I adore. I’ve learned to say no because it leaves more room to for pursuits I enjoy.

Have 5 close relationships: Vulnerability is holy. And in my experience, not everyone deserves to hear your story. This lesson is one I’ve learned the hard way. In my youth, I often strived to make everyone my “good” friend. This isn’t always possible because people have varying definitions of “good” and “close.” Although I maintain a public profile with my writing and blog, I am selective in who becomes a confidant. That list is short. As it should be. I always circle back to one of my favorite quotes by Brene Brown, “Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.”

Don’t connect happiness to external events. My everyday life is paramount. I seek comfort in certainty, routine and the ordinary things I enjoy. Although I love vacationing, I always look forward to returning home. In the past, I might have equated happiness with a particular social event or an external cue of success, but I believe in my marrow the stillness I achieve with or without these indicators endures. That is what I strive for in my day-to-day life.

Exercise. Yes. Going for a run or walking in my neighborhood is always a priority. I learned through my father’s illness and death that exercising is a privilege. Having the opportunity to move your limbs shouldn’t be taken for granted. Paving the way for a more contented life comes through exercise. It’s one of my favorite ways to spend time.

Embrace discomfort. I don’t think conflict or participating in an argument is a sign of weakness; experiencing a level of discomfort leads to epiphanies. Important lessons have arrived in the midst of struggle. Is it easy? Of course not. But I’ve always believed embracing melancholy and sorrow heightens my appreciation for goodness. It’s essential to reflect on situations that feel uncomfortable – it is probably a signal to unearth a hidden truth.

Spend more money on experiences. I unequivocally believe in this truth. I’ve never felt a lasting satisfaction when spending money on physical items. The memories that mean the most have nothing to do with money – they almost always focus on a thread of discovery, a place of wonder, an impactful conversation or a revelation through reading and writing.

Don’t ignore your whispers. The thoughts that continue to linger and the paths you continue to resist might lead to unexpected epiphanies. When certain “whispers” keep repeating themselves, don’t ignore them. Pursue them, especially if it is the context of exploring a specific interest or passion.

What do you think of these happiness habits? Do they have a place in your life? What would you add?

Image: yellow symphony – Happiness in a sunflower by petalouda62 via Flickr.