It is the last week of my regular classes and it feels rather weird, as I am wrapping things up a little earlier than in years past. Naturally I want to wish people a “happy summer.” But what does that really mean?

Last week we explored what a meaningful season ahead looked like, honoring the natural pause that is offered soon by the summer solstice. Taking advantage of the inward reflection to applaud our achievements, redress our imbalances, and look forward to supporting those in our circles of friends and family.

This weekend I was really struck by the definition of happiness offered by psychologist Shawn Achor on an older podcast of “10 Percent Happier.” He suggested that the definition of happiness was the joy you feel as you are moving toward your potential. The positive psychology research, he said, points to the need to have what he called “happiness hygiene habits” to help us retrain our ancient brain that is always scanning the inner and outer landscapes for disasters or the negative, toward the positive in order to achieve long-term happiness. That way we can move more fluidly toward our potential.

So much is dependent upon a regular gratitude practice, which creates something akin to an app running in the background of your brain always scanning for the positive. The key to holding gratitude isn’t just naming the “what” it is also the “why,” providing meaning. The three happiness hygiene practices mentioned are meditation, gratitude, and social connection (the greatest predictor for long-term happiness)

So as we part for the summer, I wish everyone the time to slow down, reflect & meditate, and to fill the summer with meaning and with those you love. “Happy” Summer.