Three F Words for Happy Living

What makes you smile?

A three-hour lunch today prompted a little deep thinking on my own approach to happiness: what makes me smile, what makes me happy, and — for a small nod to minimalism — what I think is worth spending precious money (and time!) on.

I had an answer at the ready. My lovely dining companion had a small snicker at the “Three F Words,”* as I call them, but I think they’re worth a bit more discussion for anyone in need of a reminder of every incredible gift we’ve been given.

*And when I say F It in the future, you’ll know what I mean.

1. Family

Never forget what came before.

I made that argument a few months back, recognizing my own tendency to take my family for granted just as my grandmother underwent a dangerous operation. For how serious that might sound, though, the underlying message was delightfully simple: make a call. Pick up the phone, if you like, and spend just thirty minutes talking with the people we too often forget to treasure.

The message has expanded a bit in these last few months as I’ve come crashing back down to Texas. In the spirit of a proper homecoming, then, let’s tweak the words to suit: never forget what came before, and never forget what still comes with you.

That’ll be the immediate family in most cases, but the core idea is flexible. Remember who came before you, but don’t forget to enjoy the family right here with you now. They can be an incredible source of comfort and support as you move forward in your life, and you can easily fit that role too for whatever issues they may bring to your doorstep.

Cherish them. As well as you can for as long as you can, content with the gift of family we too often take for granted.

2. Friends

I came to Tulsa, OK for a wedding: a celebration of two of my favorite people in the world. They’d brought friends from far and wide to the reception, and for three straight hours I was steadily reminded of the power of connection — the incredible value of having a support network ready to carry you higher than ever before.

I’m in Stillwater, now, then off to Norman, and then down to Dallas before finally heading home. No matter how far I may travel, though, through the sweltering heat of Oklahoma (114 today!), there’s one commonality to my destinations: the friends who live where I’m headed, every wonderful person I can’t wait to see again.

There’s no doubt that I wouldn’t have come this far without them. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t have survived California without the lovely people who inhabit it. There should be no doubt, likewise, when you take a step back to think about the most important things in your life — friends will almost universally rank high on the list, a recognition of just how important it is to keep them as close as possible.

3. Food

You snicker, but bear with me a moment longer.

There’s a glue between the three of these words that can’t be ignored: what’s on your table. The tradition of the family meal still holds strong, and much love is likewise given for an evening out with friends, but too often we gloss over that lone silent component in the mix — our food.

Our plates. Our meals, our dishes, and every flavor and association that comes with them, the historical traditions, family recipes, and accidental (but delicious!) oddities that result from mixing sauerkraut with ground beef in a fit of culinary mischief. Some of my fondest memories are of meals I’ve created and shared with friends, and some of my favorite memories from my travels are of odd dishes I’ve embraced in full.

Realize that what you eat is something to be cherished. Realize how lucky we are to enjoy food in the form — let alone abundance! — we do today, and realize that something as simple as a glass of wine deserves far more credit than we normally give it for all the comfort and contentment it can offer.


These are the three things I would spend time and money on without any hesitation.

What are yours?


  1. Primal toad says:

    These 3 things are so vitally important to a healthy life!

    I would add play. Although you could say food, family, friends are play if you make them be!

    I want to add fitness and say this…… View fitness as PLAY! Or you are having fun while working out then do something else. Move and do what you love!

    I do quick bodyweight stuff. I’m experimenting with once per week. 10 to 30 minute sessions. The rest is all play. Yesterday I played mini golf and decided to fit in 10 push ups and squats after finishing each hole… It was a riot! I finished 3 over par :)

  2. andrea says:

    I think you nailed it…I would add for me…traveling with family and friends to seek out awesome food!!!!

  3. Ulla Lauridsen says:

    I’d say fat, fun and fitness. I’m not a people person

  4. NomadicNeill says:

    Being creative. In my case it’s making music. I have to express myself in this world.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Well put, dear. Everything looks great and your optimism is positively catching! Cali misses you and sends love.

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  7. Grace says:

    In my life, those three F’s always go together!

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