Happiness; essentially, it comes from you. You can surround yourself with people, places and things that you think will make you happy, but what it boils down to is how you make yourself happy. Confused? Don’t worry, so was I when I first started looking into this but it will all become clearer, I hope! When I started my blogging journey, I told you it was a journey to happiness. So, I thought it was about time I talked about this word; happiness. Happiness is defined by Google (yes, I am the type to ‘Google‘ everything), as a ‘state’, a state of mind. Surely, our state of mind is something we control? Surely, this means, being happy is our responsibility?
My blogging has led me to truly reflect on parts of my life, and making myself happy has become a bit of a mission for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am, more often than not, very happy with my life. As mentioned several times before in my other two blogs (I’m becoming a bit of a writer now, how exciting) I feel incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing people all the time and I lead a very happy life. However, if I’m being truthful (and that’s what these blogs are all about), I do sometimes find myself in a dark place. It happens very suddenly and comes on when I least expect it, but sometimes, yes sometimes, I get sad. I guess I could say it’s when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I guess I could blame being a woman and I guess I could say ‘it’s only natural, it could happen to anyone’ but, what if I could control it? What if I could stop it from happening? What if I could be happy ALL the time? Is that even possible? I guess it’s not, because if we didn’t have the sad times, we wouldn’t appreciate the happy times, but I could certainly work on being happy for the majority of the time. I want to make sure I make the most of my life and enjoy it as much as I can.
So, in this mission to becoming happy more often, I thought about a lot of things that I could do in order to make it happen, and the first thing that I knew I could control was how positive my outlook was. During work last week, a friend said to me ‘I’m being more positive, I’m making myself positive’. I say she said this to me; I fail to mention that as she said it, she was dancing around the office and singing. Before she had done this, I was having one of my negative days and felt very down, but after seeing her, I really started thinking, why do I feel like this? We are all too eager to find blame, who can I blame? What can I blame? But the truth of the matter is, all it took, was for me in that very second, to decide I was going to have a happy day. Don’t mistake me, the positivity of my friend sure did help but it was down to me to lift my chin and smile again. It was down to me, to walk out of the office with a skip in my step, my friend just helped me realise this.
I have mentioned my mum in all of my blogs so far and there is a reason for this; she is my inspiration in pretty much all I do. She may doubt this, but I’m telling you, it’s true. Everything she says makes sense and every piece of advice she has given me I find myself giving someone else. The way she is with me, my brothers and my nephew (and in fact everyone else) is the way I hope to be. She is incredible. Anyway, my point is, she is a huge advocate of positivity (and its contribution to our happiness) and has given me so much advice on how best to achieve it. I thought it only fair to share a little bit of that advice with you. A piece of advice I think is essential for everyone to remember is to smile. Smile; even if you don’t feel like it, even if you don’t think it will help, it really does work. As soon as you feel the two corners of your mouth curl up, a couple of things may happen. You will either think to yourself ‘oh my goodness, I must look so silly smiling to myself’ and in thinking this, you will make yourself laugh. Or, you will feel the endorphins rush to your face which in turn, makes your face glow a little more. Another thing that mum has said to me, is that people won’t want to stay around a sad person for long. I always try to smile at others, I really think it helps. Of course, your friends will be there for you to support you but, when you’re down, it’s hard for other people to lift you and this effort might make them reluctant to come and meet you or to even take your call. I’m very lucky as my mum takes my call whenever (even though she knows sometimes I might be sad). Anyway, smile at others, whenever you can. I have a very close friend who does this, I love being around her. That is some of the best advice from my mum right there and it helps me on a daily basis.
My lovely mum
I have also decided, on my journey to happiness, that I am going to do more things in my life that I enjoy; more things for me (hence the blogging really). Every time I blog, I forget about the list of things I have to do (I’m thinking about them now because I’m talking about them, but as soon as I move on, they will go), I forget about the load of washing in the washing machine or the fact that I have a pile of marking to do. Blogging is, for me. I am no professional and I don’t get millions of views but I love it. From the first word I write, to the last thought I leave you with, I love it!
Following my last blog, I decided that I was going to start playing the guitar more and start writing my songs again (two more things I love, that got put to one side whilst other things took over). So I took a trip yesterday, to town (with Dan of course), to pick up some strings, and although they aren’t on my guitar yet, just buying them made me happy. I also decided to wander around Waterstones searching for some inspiration for this blog. I forgot how good it is to read. I also forgot how good it was just to be in a bookshop, there’s something very calming about it. I sat on the floor and flicked through the shelves of books, looking for one that grabbed my attention; I ended up with loads. I sat down on one of the comfy seats and narrowed down my choice (I would have bought them all but I need to eat this month). Then when I got home, I sat down and I read. Not because I had to, not because I was doing it for someone else, but because I wanted to. I loved every second of it and was annoyed at myself for getting sleepy eyes. I also had a bath, during which I played the soundtrack to my life (previous blog) and just stopped, and took a breath. I am only human and during the bath, I found myself thinking ‘right, tomorrow I have to do this, then that, then that…’ but as soon as I found myself doing this, I made a conscious decision to dissolve those thoughts into the bubbles. It sounds so difficult, but I did it! These are just a few things that I did in one day that made me incredibly happy.
Making Me Happy
Now, if I did something I enjoyed every day, if we all did, think of the difference it would make. People (and up until very recently, I was one of these people) will often say that they have very little time to do anything they enjoy, but I think it is essential that you make the time. Happiness, after all, is the key to success. One of the books I bought is ‘Calm‘ by Michael Acton Smith and it is brilliant. I am not a machine and I haven’t finished it yet but I have dipped into three sections already and it has just made so much sense. In here, he talks about how we can become stressed and chaotic, and how that can often prevent us from being the best, even in work. He talks about how taking a step back, breathing and being calm can help us be more successful and productive in work. I recommend it, I really do (and I’m not even been paid to say it, I wish I was).
My New Books
Another thing I have decided to do is start appreciating all the positive aspects of my life a little more. It’s funny; we seem to focus in so closely on the negative aspects of our day, we forget to appreciate the positive (however big or small). Mindfulness is stopping and appreciating everything, taking everything in and responding to it. I liked the quote from the book:
“We’re so focused on ‘the next thing’ that we regularly miss what’s happening in front of us. We fall into bed exhausted, waiting for weekends to come around, and when they do, we spend them worrying about what we didn’t achieve or thinking about what’s next on our plate.”
So, I tried this on my journey into town with Dan. We were driving along with the music on full blast; it was Les Miserables, ‘One Day More’, and we were both singing loudly (I always find it funny that someone could be watching us). It got to the bit where Jean Valjean sings ‘one day more…’, 2 minutes 30 in and we both belted it out, aiming for that top note. Now, this may not seem like a big deal to many people, but it made us laugh, a lot and for that, I cherished this moment. I stopped, thought about it, and cherished it. I’m glad I did. One more thing I cherished this week was a simple shopping trip to town. In the week, after a hard day at work, I met Nia in town and a simple shopping trip turned into therapy in its finest form. We wandered around the shops chatting, not about anything serious, just chatting. We looked at make-up, clothes, sunglasses (look below) and just shopped, together. We stopped for tea and coffee and sat, without a care in the world; it was bliss. It was something I was doing for me, with a best friend, and it made me so happy. I had forgotten about my tough day in work and I came home to Dan, beaming; thank you Nia.
I found a lovely task to help me do this more often within the book ‘Calm‘ where they tell you to note certain things down each day. I’m going to amend this to suit me, as they suggest. So each day, I am going to upload my positive thoughts but not in paragraph form, I am simply going to answer the following questions. Please feel free to do the same and comment in the comment box below, I’d love to hear yours:
- Name three things that made you smile today.
- What are you grateful for (this one is from the book)?
- What did you do for you today?
Happiness is important. It’s key to a good life and only you can control it. I am leaving you now, hopefully happy, with maybe a lot or not so much, to think about…