My Best Friend

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My best friend is amazing. She is one of the few people in the world who truly “gets” me. And she always seems to know exactly what to say. We laugh, at the stupidest things – and go on laughing way after it’s funny. We go on road trips and sing, badly and loudly, to the cheesiest music. We gossip over pizza. We cuddle up under a blanket and watch property shows – planning our houses for when we have money… We shop and spend more money than we have. But it’s more than that. Without my best friend I probably wouldn’t be here today. She is my absolute rock. She has seen me at my lowest of low points and still stayed by my side. She has held my hand and let me cry and patiently reassured me when my anxious paranoia kicks in. She has firmly told me that “giving up is not an option”. And I listen to her when I can’t listen to myself. She always seems to know the right words to say, when to be serious and when to have a joke. She hugs me and reassures me and loves me unconditionally. And I can never fully put into words how much she means to me. Happiness comes from spending time with people who truly love you for who you are – just like she does for me.

Kindness

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It is very easy in the frantic world we live in to give a hasty response or a sharp comment. I’m guilty of that myself. However, if we all try to be that little bit kinder, perhaps that will help us on the way to happiness. Kindness costs nothing and yet it can be the difference between anger and acceptance, anxiety and happiness, a good day and a bad. A kind word, a smile, a hug, a compliment. Small gestures but with huge impact. I know that whole days have been changed for me by that person who stopped to say my hair looked good or to give me a hug or even just to say hello and smile. Its not always easy to accept a compliment and sometimes I get very strange looks when I tell someone they look nice or similar. I think they are secretly pleased and a little embarrassed!

Its actually pretty easy for me to be kind to other people. It’s being kind to myself that is the tricky bit. I’m trying to be kinder to me and not so self critical but it’s definitely a work in progress! So … in this world, where we are lucky enough to be able to be anything, be kind. Be kind to yourself and to others.

Laughter

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Laughter is generally thought to be synonymous with happiness. Certainly a good laugh can make you feel happy. And I don’t mean a half hearted chuckle. I mean a full blown belly laugh where you have tears rolling down your face, you’re not sure if you are breathing at all, your body starts to ache and you are rendered incapable of anything else at all. But how often do we actually laugh like this as an adult?  I often see children laughing with sheer joyous abandon but somehow as we grow up we lose that ability to see the sheer joy in our lives. So for my next goal I want to recapture that joy and that laughter and see the world through tears of joy rather than tears of sadness. To recapture the joy of living…

Happy new year?

 

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“New year, new me” is usually the saying that gets thrown around at this time of the year. Well it just so happens that actually, I quite like me, and I’m not sure I want a new one thank you very much. I mean, sure I have weird middle toes that bend a funny way – but that just makes me quirky right?! Surely not all of me needs to be shiny and new and perfect for me to be happy?

I totally understand that for lots of people a new year is an opportunity to push the reset button, start over and have another go at doing all of the things that they think they ought to do and “get it right”. For me though, the idea of “new year, better me” is much more appealing. When the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve, I definitely got the feeling of a fresh start and a renewed motivation to make 2017 a great year. But I didn’t feel like I had a gruelling list of things to do ahead of me. Instead I felt like I was ready to slowly make a few more changes so that 2017 felt happier than 2016. The first change I wanted to make was to de-clutter the flat and have a good old spring clean. We got straight to it and yesterday we were so happy to wander around our little home and feel that we had accomplished a little victory. Thanks to that little victory I am sitting at my actual desk on an actual chair, writing on my actual laptop because I can finally see them! They are no longer buried under dental check up reminders (bad girl), household bills and takeaway menus. A tidy house makes for a tidy mind and I don’t know about you but a tidy mind certainly makes me feel much happier. Other changes for this year include managing my evening and weekend workload more effectively so that I finish it earlier in the evening and therefore sleep better. I also want to go on longer walks with my dog and increase the number of Zumba classes I am teaching so that I have more opportunities to exercise. I’m sure that there will be more changes that I haven’t even thought of yet, we’ll just have to wait and see…

This certainly doesn’t mean that 2017 has been all plain sailing so far – I still stood at my front door this week trying to unlock it with the bleeper on my car key. I also tried to make a cup of tea by just pouring hot water in a cup and wondered why it was clear (seriously). This morning I nearly poured milk on the dog’s breakfast instead of mine. But that’s ok, because for me a happy new year isn’t a perfect new me, it’s a better me, and I’m getting there!

Courage

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My first blog post, well here goes, here are my ramblings. I came across this quote quite by chance yesterday and it made me think how courage and happiness might be linked. I fight a constant battle with anxiety and depression and am plagued my the self-negating thoughts that accompany this. The ones that say “that wasn’t good enough” or “why did you do that it was really stupid” or “I can’t believe you just said that”. These can make being happy an impossible battle some days. However, what this seemed to be saying to me was that it was ok to have days when you are not happy  as long as you don’t give up – try not to beat yourself up about it. And inevitably when you take the pressure off, happiness seems to come more readily. It takes courage to be happy but also to admit when you are not and need help. And whichever courage you have, as long as you have it there will always be an opportunity for a new day to try again. Happiness will find you.

Searching for happiness

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary, happiness is defined as ‘the state of being happy’. Well this makes it all sound fairly simple: happiness is achieved by being in a happy state. But how do you get to be in that state? Some people might argue that being happy is achieved by living a good life and being a good person. To a certain degree I can understand this – maybe good people have a more positive and enriched outlook on life and that makes them happy. Other people might argue that being happy is a choice, and again I can see their point. One of my favourite quotes comes from a wonderful colleague of mine who says to me encouragingly “choose to have a good day”. Whenever she says this to me I find myself instantly in a better mood, smiling to myself as I walk down the corridor.

However, my experiences with mental health and well-being tell me that getting to be in a happy state is not always that simple. Sometimes even the kindest, most positive people are unable to choose to have a good day because they haven’t even mustered up the energy or enthusiasm to get out of bed and actually start the day in the first place. Unfortunately they are being hampered by beast that is the black dog of depression. Nowadays, this is an illness that is much more widely accepted and understood by people and I am so glad that it is becoming much more ‘normal’ to talk about it. One of the worst aspects of any mental health problem is to feel that you are totally alone and can’t explain how you are feeling because people won’t believe you…or even worse they can’t understand why you don’t just ‘get over yourself’.

I didn’t really want to start this blog with such a serious post but I feel like I need to because really this is the reason the blog is here in the first place. I’ve spent a long time reflecting on the concept of happiness and it’s something that I am adamant can be achieved by everybody if we search hard enough for it. Maybe if we try enough weird and wonderful approaches, eventually we’ll find happiness in abundance and roll around in it like a pig in….mud. So here is my latest weird and wonderful approach – The Blog of Happiness, a place where I can record, organise, revisit and remember all of the places I find the happy moments in my life. You never know, it might help you find some new happiness hiding places too. x