Habits determine happiness

Let’s be honest—we all want to be Walter Mitty.

 

We have dreams—we know who we COULD be—but we don’t feel like we have the ability or resources to make it happen. Those ideal states and epic stores come to life in our minds, while in “real” life we become victims of the daily grind—standing on the platform and following the set pattern of our everyday routine.

 

And that’s where our friend Walter found himself. A bystander in his own life. Until one day, he made one choice.

 

He decided to just do something.

 

The difference between a hero and a bystander is that the hero actively takes charge of the situation, and bystander is a passive recipient of the circumstances.

 

A hero just does something.

 

They see the situation. They aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They decide to change it.

 

In your life—regardless of the circumstances you can’t change—there are two main factors you can influence to create and maintain that ideal status quo:

Your habits determine your happiness.

Your routine determines your reality.

 

“Just doing something” starts by asking what habits you need to break, and what habits you need to build.

 

Here’s five simple steps to make that happen:

 

Make a list. As you go about the day, start keeping track of the “habits” in your life, from grabbing that iced macchiato at Birch to riding the 6 train to 59th street to binging on Netflix instead of taking that evening run.

 

Become aware. You’ll find that keeping track of these behaviors makes you more conscious of the things you do and that happen to you throughout your day. Consider how they make you feel—do they add stress? Bring happiness? Remember these feelings.

 

Start small. Pick one small thing you want to own for the week. Don’t try to fix everything all at once—that can be overwhelming! The confidence from #winning on this small habit will give you the confidence to take on something greater.

 

Reward yourself. Keep track of every day you say “yes!” to your new habit—even if it’s skim instead of 2% in your latte, or walking to work instead of taking the subway. Repeating it for seven days makes a habit, so reward yourself after you’ve been faithful for a week straight! Just make sure your reward isn’t related to the bad habit you’re breaking—it should be something that reinforces (not negates!) the choices that you’ve made.

 

Rinse, repeat. You’ve got this down, now onto the next thing. See how you can tackle a habit or take a (reasonable) risk every day—try speaking up in a client meeting, asking for mentorship from a supervisor, or finding a fun new adventure to take on every weekend.

 

Build the habits that make you happier and bring fulfillment. Be the person you’ve always imagined.

 

Just. Do. Something.

Places to escape the City, in the City (Part 2)

During the sweltering NYC summers, where to spend valuable downtime is determined by two factors:

  • Proximity to green
  • Proximity to water

 

Maybe I believe in those criteria because I’m from the Midwest. Maybe it’s because one too many air conditioners dripped on my head as I was walking on the street underneath, and I realized I sometimes need a reprieve from the concrete jungle.

 

Either way, here are a few of my favorite places to enjoy summer in the City (or right outside it)—close to the water, close to plant life (more oxygen, right?) or both.

 

Central Park

This one may seem obvious, but it’s called CENTRAL Park for a reason. Is your #squad spread throughout the City? Never fear—it’s easy to get to the Park from just about anywhere. (Try the N, Q, R, 4, 5, 6, A, C, B, D, 1, 2, or 3 trains—whew, that’s a lot!) And, the Park has perfect spots for almost any occasion:

 

Getting those #SquadGoals

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Sheep Meadow

Try Sheep Meadow or the Great Lawn—together, they offer almost 70 acres of lush grass perfect for sunbathing or relaxing with friends. Don’t come empty-handed, though:

  • For leisure: Bring a book, Frisbee, or Spikeball (a favorite with my crew)
  • For picnicking: Bring Brie and a fresh baguette from Zabar’s (2245 Broadway) or stop off at Levain Bakery (167 W 74th) for one of their world-famous chocolate-chip cookies. A heads-up though—these are delish & the line may be long, but 100% guaranteed to be worth the wait.

 

Spending some solo time

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Conservatory Garden (Source: centralparknyc.org)

“‘We’ are great. But sometimes I need ‘Me.’” You may not say this out loud to your friends, but sometimes you need a place to retreat from all of the people in NYC (8.4 million, to be exact) and spend time with a good book. For that, check out:

  • Shakespeare Garden: Wooden benches lining quaint, winding paths through patches of bright flowers.
  • Conservatory Garden: An exquisite formal garden composed of three smaller Italian, French, and English gardens—each with its own spectacular floral displays.

 

For impressing #bae

Think boats. Row boats.

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Loeb Boathouse (Source: centralparkboathouse.com)

Take your date to the Loeb Boathouse, and select your craft from a fleet of 100 rowboats (available for rent daily from 10a-dusk). Spend the afternoon rowing by the Bow Bridge or otherwise drifting on Central Park Lake. For bonus points, bring a picnic of cheese, baguettes, and Levain cookies with you.

 

The Low Line

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(Source: bloomberg.com)

Everyone’s heard of the Highline, but let’s give some attention to this underground park on the LES. It’s a historic trolley terminal transformed into a lush subterranean oasis—and, they also host special events there, like Yoga or popsicle pop-ups!

 

The Hudson

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North River Lobster Company (Source: nbcnewyork.com)

 

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The Frying Pan

Yes, the title here is intentionally vague. As the river that spans the West side of Manhattan, this definitely satisfies the “proximity to water” criteria. And, there’s quite a few ways to enjoy it:

  • The North River Lobster Company: The largest floating lobster shack from NYC sets sail from Pier 81 (Hell’s Kitchen) and offers delicious seafood staples alongside great views of Manhattan. There’s no fee to set sail—only for food and drinks!
  • The Frying Pan: The well-known “bar on a boat” (a “lightship”, to be more specific), docked by Chelsea Piers and popular for its aquatic proximity.
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding: Manhattan Kayak Company offers SUP rental—and even fitness classes (crossfit and yoga) for those days when you want to cool off. Yoga is my personal fave!
  • FREE Kayaking: Visit one of Manhattan Community Boathouse’s two locations to climb into a kayak and sail away from shore for 20 minutes. Yes, 20 minutes is short, but it’s FREE so…

 

The Hamptons

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Montauk, specifically. Updates from our recent trip to The End coming soon—stay tuned!