one practice for happiness

I've been feeling quiet this week, life and controversy sapping my energy to contribute to the online dialogue. Just little sadnesses, world-weariness, the end of summer, the feeling that there is nothing new under the sun, and nothing new to say; at the same time, the nagging suspicion that there is something new, if we could just get out and find it.

I'm supposed to be reviewing a certain book on happiness, but instead of reading it, I've been dipping into another book, The Happiness Project. (Critical background knowledge for reviewing the other book, I tell myself).

The Happiness Project has been on the bestseller list for seventy-some weeks now, so doubtless you know the idea behind it: Gretchen Rubin, a woman with a life which she realizes should make her extraordinarily happy, sets out to be happier in it. The book is her memoir of "a year trying to sing in the morning, clean my closets, fight right, read Aristotle, and generally have more fun."

I have no plans for engaging in a year long project of this sort, but I am working to form one habit - just one - which always makes me feel better.

First thing in the morning, I step pajama-clad onto the back porch, and look at the sky. Listen to the birds. Get grounded. Say good morning to God.

And before I crawl into bed at night, I re-visit the porch (or, call it what it is, the cement slab), and stare into the stars, and listen to the crickets, and breathe; until I feel small, and loved, and chilled; and I say goodnight.

Have you read this book? What small habits make you happier? I'm also considering taking up bed-making...