Jamie Varon

Right Here, Right Now

June 28, 2024

“The answer isn’t to just ‘live in the present.’ That’s too passive. The answer is, actually, to powerfully engage with and create, constantly, the present moment. I remember in 2021 I used to make everything into a ritual. If I had to vacuum, I’d first put on my favorite playlist and dance while I did it. I would light candles before I wrote, like a sacred moment of calm. I acted on my intuition, never saving an idea for ‘later’ because what was ‘later’? Time became nothing but a construct to me. There was only the right here, the right now, and if I didn't figure out how to make that moment as beautiful as I could, what did I have? Nothing mattered more than the present.”

—Jamie Varon


Practicing Happiness

June 21, 2024

Photo by kike vega on Unsplash

Last week during yoga practice, our teacher, Terry, started us out with an affirmation that used the term “practicing happiness”—and it captured my attention. Despite all my years of thinking and writing about happiness, I’ve never really thought of it in terms of “practicing” happiness or having a “happiness practice.” 

What does practicing happiness mean?

The word practice is both a verb: “to do or perform often, customarily, or habitually,” and a noun: “a repeated or customary action.” 

Using the verb definition, I thought about what practicing happiness would look like. The way you get better at something is by doing it. Therefore, happiness can be something you do, like practicing kindness, or practicing yoga.

Here are some things to think about if you want to practice happiness—and get better at it!

Define what makes you happy. Do you know? It’s not always what you think! I’ve written before about three forms of happiness—momentary pleasure, overall happiness, long-term contentment. Think about what you need to be happy in these three ways. 

Seek out “happiness streams.” Don’t leave your happiness to chance

Deliberately look for ways to add fun to your life. Summertime with its more relaxed vibe is a good time for most people to add a little fun to their lives. 

Keep trying. Maybe something you thought would make you happy doesn’t. Don’t give up if you’re disappointed. Maybe you’re simply worn out and don’t want to add one more thing to your mental to-do list, even if it’s happiness related. Rest, then try again later.

(If you need some ideas, see “7 Things You Can Do to Feel Happier.”

What gets in the way?

Practicing happiness sounds pretty good, but plenty of things can get in the way. Some things that stop us from practicing happiness include:

  • Neglecting your own needs and wants in favor of others
  • Feeling guilty for enjoying yourself or being happy when others are not
  • Waiting for permission
  • Waiting to be invited
  • Work and responsibility
  • Apathy/low energy
  • Grief/sadness

Happiness busters will always be with us, unfortunately. All we can do is keep at it. Even when times are hard, we can still find moments of joy. Ask for help when we need it. Allow negative feelings to pass through us. If happiness is important to you, do not give up seeking it.

Your happiness practice

It may seem like semantics, but if you practice happiness on a regular basis—not just now and then—you create a happiness practice (see the noun definition above). I think of it is as being similar to how I’ve been taught to practice yoga. It’s OK to be imperfect. Each day is a little different. What feels good and right? How can you stretch yourself while still listening to your body (yourself)? Just like a yogi comes back to the mat, you can come back to the practice of happiness whenever you want.

I’ll be working on my happiness practice this summer—how about you? How will you practice happiness?

Link love

Rainy June Day Link Love

June 14, 2024

Day 2

This week I went to the beach for a couple of days to visit some family members who had rented a condo there. And guess what? When I got there, it rained. All day. After months of drought. Oh, well. That’s what books, games, movies, and the Internet are for. (And the sun came out the second day—yay!)

If you’re stuck inside because it’s too hot, too wet, or otherwise too unpleasant to be outside, here are a few links for you to check out.

Need ideas for your Summer Fun List? Gretchen Rubin’s Happier app has a new “Spin the Wheel” option which “will suggest something to add to your summer bucket list, an idea to spark a new tradition, or an activity that will help the season feel distinct.” As she writes, “If every month is exactly like the month before, time speeds up and blurs—so by doing lots of summery activities, we’ll make that part of the year stand out.”  

I love this—a baguette-scented, scratch-and-sniff stamp!  

Sometimes I feel more tired than I think I have any reason to be—maybe it’s because I’m doing some of these things

A Sunday reset that could be just the thing we need to get our weeks off to a peaceful start. 

Style blogger Alison Gary writes about the disturbing way Google has been leaning into AI to provide answers to search questions. How does this affect you? This practice influences traffic to websites and blogs like Gary’s, which impacts revenue for those bloggers, which means they struggle to bring in enough money to continue their work. It also helps determine the information you find when you have a question—and sometimes that information is flat-out wrong.

Gary suggests several ways to help any sites you care about (like Catching Happiness, perhaps?), including sharing articles on Facebook, Reddit, Threads, and/or Pinterest; following creators on our social platforms; subscribing to our newsletters, opening them and clicking on links; and leaving comments.

On a happier note, check out “The Vorfreude Secret: 30 Zero-effort Ways to Fill YourLife with Joy.”  

This song is just sassy and fun: 

Have a fantastic weekend!



Summer fun list 2024

Striving for Summer Fun Instead of Summer Funk

June 07, 2024

Photo by john labelette on Unsplash

Many people love summer and look forward to its simple pleasures and everyday adventures. 

Not me

Florida’s summers are a special kind of hell and my goal every year is to survive the summer without 1) Heat stroke 2) A full-blown depression and 3) Hurricane damage.

I’m only half kidding.

I know you’re probably sick of my complaints about this—trust me, I’m sick of me, too. I’m trying to have a positive attitude, but we’ve already had multiple days in the upper 90s and, oh yeah, it technically isn’t even summer yet. I shudder to think what August will bring.

Since summer in Florida is Not My Favorite, in recent years I’ve been taking a cue from author Laura Vanderkam and creating a Summer Fun List. Having something to look forward to is a component of happiness that I fully believe in. So here goes…

Summer fun list 2024

Rewatch the movie Clue. I enjoyed the stage production so much, I want to rewatch the movie. 

Beach weekend getaway with my husband.

Playdates with friends—as many can I manage! Whether it’s lunch, coffee, floating in the pool, or a trip to iSmash (see below), I plan to spend some quality time with friends this summer.

Ride “Dougie” (fellow boarder’s horse I’ve been given permission to ride) while Tank enjoys his well-deserved retirement.

Go to the movies—if I can find something I want to see. With my husband, with a friend, or even by myself.

Complete at least one jigsaw puzzle.

Watch the Summer Olympics being held in Paris (ah, Paris!) on TV.

Make key lime ice cream.

Go to iSmash—I have some frustrations I’d like to work out! 

Watch Black Cake on Hulu. I loved the book. 

Read by the pool. One way to enjoy the outdoors in a Florida summer is to get yourself wet. An afternoon spent reading and then dipping into the pool when I get hot sounds appealing. I usually prefer to skip the “wet” and “outside” parts of a reading afternoon, but I’m trying to shake up my routine a bit.

Create and read from a summer reading list (see below).

I don’t feel like these are very exciting, or even very different from past summers, but maybe “excitement” isn’t what I need during the summer. I think I need to chill…in more ways than one!

Summer reading

Summer is prime reading time since I’ll be trying to stay cool. Here are some possibilities for my summer reading. Even though I’m a fast reader, there’s no way I’ll get to all of them. The ones with an * are priorities:

Library books:

The Lost Bookshop, Evie Woods (already on hold) 

The Husbands, Holly Gramazio (already on hold) 

*My Murder, Katie Williams 

*In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honore 

Laziness Does Not Exist, Devon Price 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler 

Enchantment, Katherine May 

*Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser. The Project Gutenberg e-book version is here

*Queen of Bebop: The Musical Lives of Sarah Vaughan, Elaine M. Hayes 

TBR shelf:

*Au Revoir, Mary Moody 

*The Battle of the Villa Fiorita, Rumer Godden 

Touch Not the Cat, Mary Stewart 

Traveling While Married, Mary-Lou Weisman 

*Draft No. 4, John McPhee 

Drawing from Life: The Journal as Art, Jennifer New 

I’ll also continue my Agatha in Order project. Begun in 2020, I’m still reading Agatha in order. As of this writing, I have 21 books left. I won’t finish in 2024, but will definitely get there in 2025. 

Do you make a Summer Fun List? What are your plans for fun this summer?