My current emphasis: how to make good habits and break bad ones (really)

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Ah, it’s the simple things in life that make us happy.

LennysTwo of my resolutions are “Enjoy routines” and “Cultivate little pleasures”; I’m trying to make myself more aware of the things I enjoy about my daily life.

And one thing that’s been making me very happy lately is my new lunch place: Lenny’s at the corner of 77th and 2nd.

It’s slightly off my beaten track; I discovered it when a friend suggested that we meet for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien across the street.

Now, Le Pain Quotidien may be more elegant, but it’s Lenny’s that keeps me coming back.

When I’m scouting for a diner, restaurant, or coffee shop in which to work, my three desiderata are: good food or coffee; a decent bathroom; and a place to plug in my laptop.

Very few places boast a perfect score. Lenny’s has two out of three. No electrical outlets, but it has a nice ladies’ room, and a great salad counter where I can specify the ingredients I want. (And then I use my trick: instead of dressing, I sprinkle a bit of Equal in the salad. Yes, I know, it sounds disgusting, but it really punches up the flavor.) Lenny’s is large, sunny, and clean, and I can even sit outside when the weather is warm. It has good coffee, and also carries Diet Dr. Pepper, my favorite soft drink.

A lot of high-school students come for lunch, and it’s amusing to tune in to their conversations. Right now I’m listening to a group of teenagers reenacting bits from the movie Borat. Yesterday, I sat next to some fifteen-year-old guys who talked about the travails of taking the SATs and getting their driving permits.

“Human Felicity is produc’d,” Ben Franklin rightly observed, “not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day.” How happy my new routine makes me…I love the little pleasures of my custom salad, my Diet Dr. Pepper, and my eavesdropping.
A reader emailed me a link to a fascinating blog entry on Russell Davies’s blog about how to be interesting. It has unusual, provocative suggestions — like collect something; each week read a magazine you’ve never read before; keep a scrapbook; and several others.

He also recommends a book, Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, which I immediately ordered from Amazon. I suspect this may be the book I’ve been searching for my whole life; I’m fascinated by how our understanding is shaped by the the way in which information is presented. My three previous books — Power Money Fame Sex, Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill, Forty Ways to Look at JFK — each required me to think a lot about the visual presentation of information. Will this book blow my mind the way A Pattern Language did? That would REALLY make me happy.