Book Review: The Power of Habit

“To modify a habit, you must decide to change it. You must consciously accept the hard work of identifying the cues and rewards that drive the habits’ routines, and find alternatives. You must know you have control and be self-conscious enough to use it” — Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

I often talk about the importance of mindfulness: living in the now, savoring new experiences, pulling yourself out of autopilot in order to be present in the current moment. Some people go so far as to claim that practicing mindfulness is the best approach for a happier life. Yet, others claim what seems like the opposite: that autopilot can be our friend, and that habits can make our lives simpler and happier.

My philosophy is currently floating somewhere in the middle. I think both mindfulness and routines are necessary for the pursuit of happiness. We can use our mindfulness practice to become more aware of our personal habits, which can help us eliminate unnecessary decisions and leave us more energy for things that will make us happier.

ThePowerOfHabitNew York Times investigative journalist Charles Duhigg agrees (although his point of view definitely focuses a bit more on the habits side of things). In his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, Duhigg unpacks how harnessing our habits can transform our lives, businesses, and communities for the better.

The transformation starts with understanding the mechanics of a habit. The “habit loop” structure is pretty simple: First, there is a cue, which triggers a routine, which is validated by a reward.Read More »

Becoming Aware, Inside and Out

awareimageIt’s become apparent to me recently how much self-awareness equates to good health and happiness. It’s something I have been slowly developing for years, but I know I’m still at the very beginning of my journey.

Self-awareness helps us understand why we do the things we do and feel the way we feel — and that knowledge give us the ability to understand (and sometimes change) the way we act and react. Awareness of the people and environment around us helps us interact with the world in a more present way. For me, it’s all about listening, paying attention, and learning. Read More »

Tip of the Week: Stand at Your Desk

This week’s tip: Stand up!
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Have you heard that “sitting is the new smoking”? Sure, it seems a little extreme at first, but if you read up on the research, it’s true: too much sitting can correlate with major health risks. In an informative blog post, James A. Levine, MD, PhD (of the Mayo Clinic) outlines a variety of sound reasons why sitting too much is probably impacting your overall health. Too much sitting can cause:

  • Sluggish nervous systems, which can lead to fatigue
  • Weakened muscles, which can increase risk of back and joint pain
  • Stagnant fat-burning enzymes, which can lead to weight gain
  • Poor blood sugar and blood fat levels, which can increase heart risks

Fortunately, there is no nicotine involved in your sitting habit, so it’s pretty easy to quit! For many of us, our desk jobs are the major culprit for promoting our bad sitting habits. But there is a really easy solution: just stand up!Read More »

Tip of the Week: Cook with Friends


This week’s tip:
 Make (and enjoy!) a delicious, homemade meal with friends.

dinner-party-tableWhether it’s a one-on-one occasion to catch up with a close friend, an intimate dinner party with a small group, or a big pot-luck gathering, getting together with friends over food is a great way to boost your happiness (and depending on the food you make, maybe your health too!)

Here are five reasons to consider putting a dinner-date with a friend on the calendar:Read More »

10 Apps That Genuinely Improve My Life

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Tracking and organizing personal data with apps can make a huge difference in your life — especially if it helps you become more mindful, healthy, or productive. On top of that, many apps out there make accessing great literature, music, news, and education as easy as a tap or a swipe! Although I often talk about the importance of unplugging and connecting with nature, I won’t deny that technology can also provide valuable tools for increasing happiness, efficiency, and knowledge. It’s just all about the balance!

Here are my top 10 favorite apps that work together to enhance my personal daily life (from waking up to bedtime!)Read More »

Tip of the Week: Eat a Healthy Breakfast

IMG_1726This week’s tip: Make a good breakfast. 

It can be challenging to prioritize breakfast. I’ve often made the mental argument: “If I skip breakfast, I can sleep for another 20 minutes!” For a long time, there was little to no debate — I love to sleep, so that proposition is always tempting. But every time I decide to sleep for another 20 minutes, I’m still just as tired when I get up, I find myself rushing around to make it out the door, and then I’m hungry and cranky when I get to work.

On the flip side, when I DO get up with enough time to make myself a delicious breakfast, I feel energized, calm, and satiated when I leave to start my day. Sure, those few minutes getting out of bed can be a little painful, but I’ve never gotten up and regretted it. Read More »

Tip of the Week: Connect with Nature

This week’s tip: Get outside and connect with nature. 

When I asked Dionísio, our Azorean tour guide, how he felt about nature, he didn’t hesitate for a moment. He immediately began describing the calming energy that we get from being outside and how important it is to stop and connect with nature to rejuvenate. “In nature, everything is very simple and pure. We are here walking, you know, listening to the water on one side, the birds singing on the other side, the wind sometimes on the leaves on the top, so you just… get back to zero root.”Read More »

Tip of the Week: Say “Thank You” Every Day

This week’s tip: Practice gratitude.

DSCN6027_ThankYouFirst things first — I’d like to take a moment to thank you for reading this. I am so unbelievably grateful to you. Now, second — I’d like you to pause for a moment to thank yourself for taking some time to consider ways to improve your wellbeing. YOU should be grateful that you have found the motivation to take this little step towards owning your happiness and finding your wings.

Doesn’t gratitude feel good? My heart already feels fuller. Pausing to appreciate some good things in our day allows us to slow down, open our hearts, and magnify the present moment. And in case you haven’t heard, the scientifically-proven benefits of practicing gratitude are astounding. Read More »

Waves, Wind, and Wings: An Introduction

sagres_2013_thumbI am not an expert on health, or hardships, or happiness — I’m just a creative soul who is trying to figure out my reason to write and my story to tell.

Over the last few years, I have tried to learn how to be more mindful, and I’ve experienced a few bumps in the road along the way. But I continue to come back to this idea: how can you and I find (and create) more happiness in our lives? I definitely can’t say I have much authority on the topic, or even that my ideas are all that original… but there are a few things that I have learned that I think might be worth sharing with the world. And, how can I become an expert if I don’t commit to learning more?

Read More »