I had to mail a letter the other day, and decided to walk to the post office.

It was a sunny, breezy afternoon, and Main Street was festooned with red white and blue flags in anticipation of the 4th of July parade. There were booths being erected next to the fire station for the weekend art show, and a jazz trio was warming up outside the Barnstable Tavern. The Barnstable Market, which nearly expired last year till a new owner took over, was humming with business. Nirvana Coffee Shop was still open, so I got an iced tea with a shot of mango syrup to sip on my walk home.

We’ve had our mail delivered to a post office box for 25 year, even though there is mail delivery on our street. It’s a habit we’d be sorry to give up on.

John walks to get the mail almost every day at noon, and on most walks he sees people he knows. These quick social interactions are a high point of his day. Once he’s picked up the mail, he usually continues on to Millway Beach. The round trip is three and a half miles. I walk with him when I can.

We both want to get more exercise and be more involved in our community. The post office box helps us in an effortless way.

I’ve been thinking about the small structures we incorporate into our lives that help support our values and intentions.  By structures, I mean fixed, external things that encourage desired behavior.

Maybe you have a dog that needs walking every day. Or a book group that guarantees you’ll see certain friends once a month. Or a CSA membership that encourages you to eat more vegetables.

Appreciate these little structures. They do more for you than willpower or happenstance ever will.