Happy Living | Blog “All those hours exploring the great outdoors made me more resilient and confident.”
(David Suzuki)

Welcome to Part 4 of Happy Living’s “Happy Habits” series! As the “Content Sherpa” for Happy Living, one of my main roles is combing through the vast amount of content in the world to discover ideas, habits, recipes and people who might help someone in the Happy Living Community and then to share those findings here with you. While this series began as a way to help others, it has also turned into a personal journey for me as I’ve pursued improvements in my own health and wellness.

We’re coming upon on the year’s halfway mark, and in honor of that, I am excited to share three more #HappyHabits that I’ve incorporated into my life and that you may want to try on for size this summer. To see past Happy Habits postings, click here.

Happy Habit 1: Mindful Breathing

I was listening to the excellent Rich Roll Podcast, and Rich had a guest on by the name Guru Singh. Early in the podcast, the topic of being mindful of one’s breath came up, and Guru Singh said that not only is he in a constant state of awareness of his own breath, but that he was also aware of Rich’s breath during their conversation. I believe he likened this skill to learning how to ride a bike–at first very difficult, but over time and with practice, it becomes second nature.

This idea really stuck out to me. At the time, I was about six months or so into my own meditation practice, and I had been awakening to the importance of breath work. Since listening to this podcast, one of my main goals has become being mindful of my own breath at all times.

As you might guess, this has been difficult. Incredibly so, actually! Thankfully, I have a very forgiving attitude towards myself when I fall out of mindful breathing, and despite how many times I may “fail,” trying to stay anchored in my breath has allowed me to slow down and be much more mindful in my day-to-day life.

It is amazing how quickly our minds return to autopilot, particularly in our fast-paced digital society, but trying to stay mindful and anchored in my breath has helped combat this mightily, and I look forward to continuing to develop this skill. One day, I hope to expand as Guru Singh has done, becoming mindful not only of my own breathing, but also of the breathing of people around me.

Happy Habit 2: Just Salt

I love grilling. I live in Montana, and I grill every month of the year, even during the winter. (I keep my propane tank indoors in the winter so it will work outside.) Though I have been known to whip up a mean grilled artichoke, I mostly stick to grilling meats, so I am always on the lookout for new recipes or ways to prepare meat…particularly steak.

One day I came across a video on facebook (which I now can’t find for the life of me, unfortunately) from a chef at some fancy steakhouse in New York City. As he was preparing the steak, he said that when it comes to seasoning, you should only heavily salt it before putting it on the grill. This is in part because many spices (including pepper) can become bitter over a grill’s high heat.

After watching the video, I decided to give this bare bones seasoning technique a try. I salted the heck out of a ribeye about 6 hours before putting it on the grill, as the chef recommended doing the seasoning in advance, and than got the grill up to about 550 degrees before I began to cook. I grilled the ribeye to a beautiful medium rare, took it off the heat and ground some fresh pepper over it.

Honestly, this was one of the best steaks I’ve ever cooked for myself, and I put in about half of my normal effort. In the past, I’d have seasoned the heck out of a steak; I was always tinkering, trying to find the perfect balance of spices and flavor. Turns out, all you need is a lot of salt on the front end, a bit of time before you hit the heat, and then some pepper at the very end. Try it on your next steak, and you won’t be disappointed!

Happy Habit 3: Go Camping

Camping is one of my favorite things to do, and my love of camping has really blossomed over the last few years. The faster paced and more digital my life becomes, the more I appreciate the opportunity to unplug and go sleep under the stars. I’ve written before about the benefits of being outside, but there is something more to camping than just being in nature.

Something about being outside on a camping trip for an extended period of time allows me to slip into a different mindset and mentality. It slows everything down when the big mission for the day becomes as simple as going for a hike and cooking dinner. On a camping trip, you can really let all the gravity of the “real world” fade away and get back to what’s really real—our connection to nature.

Whether you’ve never been camping, haven’t gone in a long time, or are an avid camper, make it a goal this summer try to enjoy the warm weather by taking a few weekends or even a whole week to disconnect from all your devices, read a book, watch a campfire, take the rain-fly off of your tent and sleep under the stars.

I look forward to hearing from you about how these happy habits (or others you’ve come up with on your own) are improving your life! What happy habits have you been employing lately? Leave a comment below or feel free to email me ([email protected]). I’d love to see photos of people enjoying the outdoors and camping!

Until next time, here’s hoping you find happiness in Happy Habits!

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