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!

Thoughtful friends

I think I may have just missed posting this on Wednesday but as I am still up and about I’ll say it anyway – Happy Humpday! This week I have a gorgeous little mid-week pick-me-up from a beautiful friend of mine. As we haven’t seen each other since before Christmas, we delayed gift swapping until this week (read: she gave me her gift while I left mine at home on the table – useless!). Before I opened it she warned me that it might seem a bit weird. Full of intrigue I quickly pulled off the paper and was utterly shocked to see that my wonderful, thoughtful friend had made a wedding album for me! You see, in the age of digital media, everything tends to be kept on computers and memory sticks – including my wedding photos. I am ashamed to admit that I have never actually collected them in to an album and it has now become one of those jobs on the ‘maybe later’ to-do list.

This is the cover of the wedding album – it’s so beautiful!

Seeing this gorgeous photo album made me feel happy for a number of reasons. Firstly, seeing photos from my wedding brought back lots of lovely memories of the day and it put a smile on my face to see them again. Secondly, the fact that I have someone in my life who not only remembered something I briefly mentioned in conversation, but also then took so much time and care to create such a thoughtful gift makes me feel very loved indeed. And feeling loved is a very happy thing!

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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.

Painted nails

This runs the risk of being a very long post – you see, I have been obsessed with all things nail related for what feels like forever. I love watching YouTube videos about nail painting (Christine from SimplyNailogical is my favourite), I love painting my nails, I love having my nails painted for me, I love painting other people’s nails and I love buying new nail polishes (read: anything nail related). I have loved all of these things for a very long time and it’s showing no sign of stopping!

I think painted nails and the process of painting nails makes me happy because there’s a beautiful art involved. I enjoy the challenge of painting my nails neatly and I feel really satisfied when I look at a finished set of nails and they are just perfect! Painted nails make me feel glamorous and posh (even though I’m sat here in my pyjamas looking like a scruffball), just watching my nails sparkle as they clack away on the keyboard makes me smile. I remember our primary school choir teacher’s nails clicking as she played the piano and deciding there and then that was what I wanted – to play the piano? NO! To have nails long enough to make them clack on things (such ambition). Since then I’ve had long nails, lots of short nails, acrylic nails, glued on nails, fibreglass nails, gel nails, nail extensions, and a weird hybrid gel/acrylic mix that nobody could get off my nails and nearly did some serious damage to them (but we won’t talk about that) – the lot! And it still makes me smile to think of my choir teacher every time I click my nails on the table.

At the moment I’ve been a very good girl and grown out my natural nails with the help of my Sensationail kit – home gel kits are amazing! Now I can paint my own nails with polishes that don’t chip which has saved me a fortune in going to the salon and it means I can change the colour whenever I fancy.

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My current Sensational gel collection – sooooooo pretty!

I am loving glittery polishes at the moment and have just ordered a few more in the Christmas sales*. My current set are gold glitter basically poured over my nails and fixed in place with a tangerine glitter polish. I love watching them sparkle in the light and the running joke in the family at the moment is “Have you done your nails Annie?” due to the number of times I have stopped everyone to make them look and appreciate their loveliness.

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Look at all the glitter!!

In short, I blooming love feeling pretty with my posh nails and when I catch them in the corner of my eye I feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Simple things, eh?

*They arrived as I was writing this – crazy timing!

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Introducing my latest additions: berry nice, shimmering spruce and feeling guilty.

Christmas trees

There is something so magical about a Christmas tree. I can’t wait for that time of the year when my husband and I begin the yearly ritual of driving to B&Q (based on my navigation skills, which to be honest involves a lot of I think, maybe and hopefully), pulling in to a parking space as close to the door as we can and heading inside to choose ‘our tree’. We always end up choosing a tree that is much too big for our tiny living room – the first year this happened it was a complete accident that we only realised we had made once we had cut off the netting and watched the tree spring open to the width of our kitchen….nowadays we secretly make the same mistake on purpose because we loved our first tree so much, and sliding under it to switch the telly on is quite funny…

Decorating the tree always goes like this: my husband puts the tree in place, gets Michael Bublé on the sound system, makes cups of tea then sits back to watch me put the decorations on the tree. It’s not that he doesn’t want to join in, he just likes the way that I do it and we have little chats about the different decorations as they come out of the box, remembering where we got them from. When the tree is finished, my husband names it. In the past we have had Nordman Wisdom, Firley Temple and Spruce Springsteen. This year we have the terrifying, yet topical, Donald Trunk. Just let that sink in for a moment….

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Introducing Donald Trunk! Isn’t he sparkly?

That’s what I love about Christmas trees – whenever I see their little lights twinkling, all of those memories come flooding back and I feel that warm, happy glow inside.

Family gathering

Mid-week happiness was easy to find this week because today we had our Christmas family get-together with my mum’s side of the family. It has long since been tradition that we meet up every Christmas and every summer with all of my aunts, uncles and cousins. Sadly my grandparents are no longer with us but they used to come too and join in the madness. Over the years me and my brother have moaned about packing our things up and travelling to whichever relative was hosting ‘the do’, arriving at a house filled with noise and the hustle and bustle of people – usually stressing about the food, or the alcohol, or both. I remember when we ran out of booze one year and persuaded my uncle to drive us to find a shop that was open late. There was also the year we played Pass the Bomb in my parents’ living room and narrowly avoided smashing the telly… Then there was the time my uncle wrote a play for my mum and dad’s silver wedding anniversary and we all acted it out for them. The year that my grandad died was fairly horrendous – that involved a lot of wine and crying.

There have been so many memories created through our family gatherings – not all of them have been happy but I am really grateful that our parents made sure we kept to schedule and always met up because all of the memories I have are treasured. My crazy family is definitely one of a kind and I love them all very much. Today was no different than usual – lots of hustle and bustle, plenty of food and drink, and debates about who the last dead celebrity will be of 2016 (we’re a positive bunch). Pass the Bomb was swapped for the much safer and even more hilarious Game for Fame (less smashing things, more making a fool of yourself) and plenty more happy memories were added to the bank.

Scented candles

Anyone who has been in my flat knows that I blooming love scented candles. I have to say I am usually of the Yankee persuasion but I am always open to new experiences – thanks to the news of my candle addiction spreading to friends and family, I have enjoyed all sorts from the crackling sounds of Woodwick to the alcoholic notes of Harrocks gin and tonic.

I love lighting a different candle in each room and enjoying the change in scent as I wander around my little flat. I find the flicker of a candle flame really relaxing and it brings such a cosy feeling to the room.

I received so many candles for my last birthday that my husband decided the ‘new plan’ would be to burn candles as often as we could to ‘get rid of a load’. Now, while I disagree with his sentiment, I certainly wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to freely light my candles whenever I wanted! The funny thing is he actually started to like having them lit all the time, so much so that he even bought a manly candle-lighting-clicker-thingy to light them with. I bought him a manly candle to go with it as a joke and guess what – he liked that too! Now we have candles dotted all around the flat and they’re always lit, and I feel a little wave of happiness every time I walk past them.

Cosy pyjamas

Cosy pyjamas. Oh I just love the word cosy, the sound of it makes me feel all warm and snuggly. Add that word to ‘pyjamas’ and you’re setting yourself up for a lovely evening in front of the telly. Now I know it’s not particularly (read: at all) glamorous, but in the evening I can’t wait to pull on my cosy pyjamas, my giant knitted dressing gown and my snuggly slipper socks. There’s something about it that gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my tummy. Maybe it’s because I feel like I can finally start to relax after a busy day, or maybe it’s because I feel safe and warm all bundled up while the cold rain drips down the window outside. Either way, for more than a moment, my cosy pyjamas bring a smile to my face and make me feel happy.

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This is my new favourite ensemble, courtesy of my husband – look at all the cute reindeer!

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