Saturday, 31 March 2012

My Happiness Project Day 6

Today is, technically day seven, but yesterday I was simply too damned tired to blog, and it's not as if anyone is counting!

Until I changed career six months ago weekends tended to merge into workdays depending on the level of work I had to churn through.  Evenings were simply an extension of the working day, weekends were days 6 & 7 to bill and bank holidays did not exist if they were the only days clients had free to talk.

Absolutely no longer and my free time is now simply that.  Free.  And so when one of my closest friends who lives in Wales mentioned that she and her gorgeous family were going to be in the area for a birthday party with a mutual friend, I leapt at the chance to see them - and without even a glimmer of a thought that I should be working or doing something else.

So today's happiness?  Spending a snatched few hours with friends whom I love so deeply that they feel like my extended family.
Happiness?  My young 'nephew' holding me tight and letting my cuddle him at length whilst acting cool.
Happiness?  Being fortunate enough to attend the 1st birthday party of perhaps the most cuddly little boy I have ever met.
Happiness? A happy conversation with the parents without any recriminations .

Happiness Project Day number 6 - investing love and time into relationships of all sizes and stages.

Yet again, it's simple.  There seems to be a theme emerging.........

Thursday, 29 March 2012

My Happiness Project Day 5

It is unrealistic to expect oneself to be happy every moment of every day.  We are allowed days when the clouds in our minds simply don't shift no matter how bright the sun is shining outside.  When the birdsong can't quite penetrate through the fug in one's head.  We are all human after all.

I awoke with a wee black cloud nestled over my head.  Usually I manage to disperse any early wee demons with a blast of endorphin-creating exercise, however today's schedule of train journeys around the North of the UK made my early happy drug fix impossible.  Which, after a challenging week could have opened the door to a few other gremlins to step forward - and indeed, a few months ago this would definitely have been the case.

Today however I found comfort in the fact that a blue day is now an abnormality.  That after years of living and working alone, my new career brings me into contact with some lovely people, and that coming home is now simply, but happily, that.  It's no longer my office or a reminder of the endless 'to-do' list.  But my home.  My solace.

Happiness, or rather a gently sense of contentment, is sometimes, quite literally, on our own doorstep.  And tomorrow can be anything we want it to be.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

My Happiness Project Day 4 - Honesty

Written in haste as I have a crazily early start zooming around the north of the UK (and yes, I am wearing fatigue up to my eyebrows and the wrinkles this entails is not a good luck).....

Today has a been a veritable pick 'n' mix with the disappointing gob stoppers jammed in amongst the glorious flying saucers (oh happy days).  One thing that has struck me however is that being honest makes one happy.  Or certainly in my tiny instant.

So, I'm invited to spend Easter with both sisters, their families,four other couples (plus their, forgive me, awful blooming children) and said i'd like to - whilst keeping my virtual fingers crossed behind my back. I honestly cannot think of anything I'd enjoy less given I am permanently exhasuted.  I've not slept at all well for the past week but, having come clean with big sis last night, I found myself sleeping for nearly seven hours - and without images of floating ears and finge

Must go and fall asleep,

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

My Happiness Project Day 3 - Giving

'Tis better to give than to receive.

Obviously I am unlikely to say 'I couldn't possibly....' if presented with a spanking fresh pair of Loubotins, a sprinkling of jewels or a clutch of velvety flowers (yes I know, who am I kidding?!), yet there is something to be said in the amount of pleasure and therefore happiness that is to be had in giving, as opposed to receiving.  If nothing else, for the simple reason that knowing that one can raise a smile and add a flutter of happiness to someone else's life, is within one's own power.  Whereas one could potentially wait for years to receive anything!  Cynical and twisted?  Of course but it doesn't detract from the happiness I had today by giving the simplest of tiny gifts.

Scenario 1 - a colleague mentioned recently that she loves walnuts.  I have a stash from my parents' tree that they so thoughtfully refresh every time they come to the UK.  It took less than one minute to fill a bag and then pop it on her desk before she arrived.  She had forgotten her throw away mark so was totally dumbfounded as to where the nutty gift had arrived.  I finally confessed and my day was accompanied by the sounds of her happy munching and murmurs of pleasure.

Scenario 2 - another colleague loves dark chocolate and favours truffles from a certain boutique chain.  Today she was pale and clutching her stomach but didn't say a word about the awful monthly pain she was suffering.  A simple two minute diversion at lunchtime saw me swing by her fave shop, buy a tiny bag of chocs and was greeted with the first smile that had graced her sweet face all day.

Sometimes it really is so ridiculously simple to provide someone with an opportunity to smile and to gain a lovely, gentle sense of happiness.

(p.s don't worry - far more material and physical sources of pleasure are to follow - I'm absolutely no angel.....)

Monday, 26 March 2012

My Happiness Project Day 2

Today's source of happiness is the happy combination of forgiveness and kindness.

Yesterday I was involved in an everyday but no less shocking incident which left me racked with guilt.  I was tussling with various garments in a clothes shop changing room when I heard a knock on my changing room door.  I opened to see a wee curly-mopped blonde French girl.  We ascertained that I was not her maman and so I closed the door - only to find that her finger was in the hinge which I didn't see.  To cut a long story short, the poor poppet screamed whilst blood spouted everywhere, I found the tip of her finger and insisted on ice and an ambulance being called, her parents and aunt were in shock (as were the shop assistants) and I desperately tried to hold it together until, 1 hour later, they were collectively scooped up and taken to Tommy's hospital with my card pressed into their hands.  Then the shock hit but also the immense guilt of what I'd caused and the sympathy I received from the shop staff - which was utterly undeserved as I was the guilty party.

A night ensued full of dreams of floating finger tips.

The most incredible thing however were the lovely emails I received from Sophie's aunty and mother.  Aunty kindly emailed to let me know that Sophie's operation had gone well and they'd returned to Pairs.  Second email was from maman to say that it was utterly not my fault and they were unhappy to think that I was so very worried.  By rights they should have been utterly furious with me but they chose to forgive me.

Kindness - the shop which had unwittingly hosted this wee blood-soaked drama, called me today to check that I was feeling alright and that they had spoken to the family who wanted to relay again that it was just a freakish accident.

No-one - not the aunty, mother or shop manager, had to contact me and yet they all did.  How utterly kind and forgiving.  Definitely today a source of real happiness and comfort.  And a great reminder of my father's only rule for life which I try to live by - to treat others as you would have them treat you.

Which categorically does not involve slamming doors on wee digits.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring Has Sprung 2012

Gosh, two years and and a wonderment of changes later, here I am.  Back in my wee world of playing with words but with a horizon that is happier, sunnier and stretches as far as the eye and heart can see.  I have taken a gamble to change career - perhaps not forever but, for now, it is enabling me to learn lots of wonderful lessons about humanity and, closer to home, myself.

Gone are the weekends and evenings of feeling utterly responsible for others and constantly checking my emails and dreaming of work.  Gone is the constant anxiety and loneliness.  Gone also is a certain sense of identity and, I hate to admit it, ego (when one is paid for one's advice and strategic thinking that's something that is hard to miss and admit that one does).  On the whole however, I am loving discovering a whole new world - and the world that is a relaxed and happy Clare.

But what is happiness?  Obviously it is a totally subjective concept but are there elements that contribute to a daily smile of each of us?  Most of my research projects start in my local library (use them or lose them people) which is where I stumbled across 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin

I've not yet finished it so cannot relay whether or not she reaches a state of utter nirvana.  What has both struck and tickled me however, is the concept of having a daily happiness record.  Which is a very lengthy introduction to what is my new, regular, happiness tick list - for the simple purpose of noticing and remembering each day what has made me smile.

So, day 1.

1. Going from a 34B to a 32D within 5 minutes and without resorting to surgery.  And accepting that I'm a size 6 in trousers - soooo far removed from the image I see of myself in the mirror.
2. Just a five minute conversation with one of my sisters and a text from t'other made me feel connected and held in mind.  Loving and being loved is perhaps the simplest but most heart-warming tingle one can have.