Sometimes, I have quite enough of cynicism, snark, or whatever they want to call it – particularly on the internet and on tv. So I step away. A short while ago, the writer, Rebecca Bradley, wrote this post. Well, joy of joys. It was refreshing to see a simple post about happiness. I agreed with Rebecca’s five choices, and suggested it would make a great meme.
Here’s Rebecca’s five: 1. Drink tea. 2. Eat chocolate. 3. Do that thing you really want to do. 4. Love hard. 5. Stop and read a book.
That’s all she put. Rebecca’s now remembered my casual suggestion in this post here and has tagged five people including me, for thinking of it. Ah. Thanks, Rebecca! So now I’ve to think of my five.
It’s a struggle because I can think of zillions of things, my list is very personal to me and you would no doubt have a zillion others. Perhaps it’s age, an addled mind, or that I’m easily pleased, but I found mine needed main headings and sub-sections [pause to laugh at self]. They’ve varied throughout the phases of my life, so I’m just going to have to say I agree with Rebecca’s and prioritise my current vast list.
So here’s my own list of How To Be Happy In 5 Easy Steps:-
- Know myself Very Very Well - Which helps me to be myself completely, and to accept myself, imperfect but unique human being, as I am. It stops me comparing myself to others, and draws compatible people, places and things to me, and me to them.
- The So-Called ‘Little Things’ - In no particular order, these can be: a hug, a smile (to or from me), a wonderful memory, honesty, coffee and toast in bed, gnocchi, just being well, birdsong, thoughtfulness, seasons, going drag-racing and being part of the crew (aka tea-maker) being mind-blown by others’ talents, reading in bed in our RV during a wild storm, baby animals, wearing scent, following the ISS on Twitter, seeing the funny side of things, new pretty shoes, snow, my notebooks (Moleskine, all sizes) not regretting the past or worrying about the future, being totally uncool, a personal letter or card in the post, learning – I am the eternal student, empathy, small achievements, freshly washed bedding, old black-and-white films, any animals, playing, silence, going through photographs, replacing the word “should” with “could”, kindness, Christmas lights on local houses, cute, daft or crazy pets, sunshine, Caramac, seeing our children, a bargain, spontaneity, being grateful for what I have, finding things I thought were lost, Pinterest, storms, being in ‘the zone’ when writing, excellent tv or film, Paul being around on Sundays, a Caramac, chatting, Sam Cooke’s voice, tea and cake, music through headphones, encouragement and enthusiasm, playing guitar, a Badedas or Jo Malone or even Radox bath, and many more, etc., etc. Random, or what? I said my list had zillions of things and maybe that’s another thing to be happy about.
- Getting Out Of Self – having said 1 above, this is important for me and includes: being creative in some way (writing, dancing, brainstorming, cooking, gardening, singing, drawing, knitting); literally going out (from the smallest dog walk, to seeing our children, family and friends, to travelling anywhere); experiencing nature, art, music or science; and last but not least to do something, however small, for someone else, and not tell anyone about it. All of that deals with any self-absorption, self-pity, self self self!
- Have a “Time To Put Something On My Head” – Yes, that is indeed what I said there. This excellent idea was introduced to me by Paul, my husband. Especially during times of stress or frenzy, I take a minute or two to put something on my head. It can be literally anything. A stapler, a book, a cd, a cup. What happens is I forget whatever else may have been on my mind; it’s hard not to smile or laugh; and the instant I do it, it seems to force me to take a deep breath, relax and be happy. It’s great fun to watch Paul and various other engineers or customers do this in his garage. Especially if they try to keep a serious face.
Mindfulness – With the NHS, I did two courses of Mindfulness quite recently, based on this and this. How fantastic is our NHS? Because I came to understand and appreciate for myself what ‘they’ mean by ‘be here now’ ‘being in the moment’ etc., which was always difficult with an easily-distracted mind, prone to both depression and mania. It’s made a huge difference in my life. If I practice it every day, all the other things in 1 to 4 above or in life generally are richer for it and more pleasurable, so of course it makes me happy.
Okay, so I cheated. Just a bit (ahem) – but it’s my list. You make your own! Just writing it all down made me smile.
Yes, there are negative things and times in our lives. I accept that. Jesus, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve had my snarky reactions in negative times or towards negative events. But I don’t think any snarky witticism I bring to unhappy circumstances is ever truly helpful.
If I don’t like something, I try to change it, or change my attitude towards it, or do something about it. Simples! Well, it is if I can remember some of the positive things and stop all that whining and whingeing just long enough to do something mindfully, say.
Sadness is sadness (bad things happen) and sometimes I just have to sit with it till it goes – and I’m not talking about your actual depression here. That’s quite another thing.
But in my life, it’s these things, often the little things, which help me deal with the tough stuff. One of the concerns of being diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder is that stress can send me either way, up or down.
The first signs of hypomania and/or mania can be a generalised happiness and high spirits. I got suspicious of high spirits, to the point of feeling slightly on edge whenever I was simply happy! Cautiously watching it to see if it became the rather more concerning mania. Could I allow myself to be happy, in case it became… What a quandary.
Mania feels different, it’s on another plane entirely and there are side issues like simply not wanting to sleep, behaving in a grandiose way, having crazy ideas and millions of them – to the point of agitation and irritability.
So what I had to learn, and daily mindfulness helped, was to be very aware of my moods and then inform my medical advisors accordingly. Times of either good stress or bad stress can bring about a mood swing. The team and I work together to keep me mostly well – and that’s on my list as “just being well”. I can now identify and enjoy happiness for what it is, not as a threat. And that bonus makes me happy.
I’m not going to be tagging anyone in this meme (especially as I’ve “done it my way”) But I’d like to thank Rebecca for remembering my suggestion and, if anyone fancies running with this great subject in their own way, I’d love to see any resulting posts, or comments here below.
I’ll leave you with this unsnarky number from Bobby McFerrin. About time it was given an airing…
Videos: YouTube / Photos: My own