Archive for September 25th, 2013

September 25, 2013

Happiness Every Day?

I know it’s Wednesday and that usually means it’s time for Three Good Things, but I’ve felt a need for a break as I’ve been mulling over the subject of happiness yet again…

It was my wedding anniversary recently.

Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life.  And yet, I don’t remember at any point during my wedding day thinking ‘this is it, the happiest day of my life, this is the happiest I’ll ever be‘. I’m sure that I was happy, certainly the photos suggest it, and I did have a wonderful day. Even though, as of this year, the marriage has not survived, the memories of the day are still positive ones. Yet I think that the sheer force of a wedding day, the speed of it, means it passes like a blur without you ever truly getting to take it all in.

The birth of your child is another day that is supposed to be The Happiest. Yet, with all the fears surrounding the birth of my daughter, ten weeks too soon, it was far from being a happy day. My mother remembers it as ‘the day you nearly died’ which means that alongside the joy of her birthday every year, a few tears are shed for what might have happened. Bringing her home from hospital was certainly a happy day but there was just as much fear and anxiety at the thought of removing this tiny person from the safety of her hospital surroundings and looking after her all by ourselves. My son’s birth was easier, though it required yet another emergency c-section and so, again, it wasn’t just happiness. The huge, overwhelming love that blooms with the arrival of children brings with it many other feelings and they’re often not easy ones.

Sometimes, it’s easier to look back on a time and remember it as a happy one, rather than recognising it when you’re actually living it. Holidays, are a good example of this. Often fraught with delayed flights, arguing kids in the back of the car, or getting lost in a place you don’t know and barely speak the language, they’re usually looked back on with great fondness. Things that at the time seem like huge disasters are converted into funny anecdotes once we’re no longer in the middle of living them.

Yet, in ‘The Happiness Project‘, Gretchin Rubin says that what you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while.  Genuine happiness perhaps does not lie in the big, once-in-a-lifetime situations that generally rush by in the blink of an eye but more in the little things that happen on a regular basis.  I know that Three Good Things is my attempt to find happiness in my busy life, showing a bit of gratitude for small every day things. Microadventures are my chance to try something new regularly, rather than once a blue moon. Getting the chance at the time to actually reflect that, yes, I am happy, makes a big difference. Whether that’s sitting at the top of a mountain I’ve climbed, reading a great book, having the afternoon with friends or just being on the cusp of eating a giant piece of cake, a bit of self-reflection there and then is a good way to realise happiness.

At the end of the new Richard Curtis film ‘About Time’ (spoiler alert) the lead character chooses to spend every day noticing the things that make each day a great one, instead of doing what he can do but we cannot – travel back in time and re-live the day again. Perhaps choosing to see the fun, the smiles,  the small things that can make an ordinary day a happy one instead of just rushing through with blinkers on from one day to the next, is a good way of feeling happiness. As for me, I’m still trying to work out when the happiest day of my life was – and perhaps I’ll never really know. It may well be that I’m at my happiest during an ordinary day, rather than during one of those ‘big’ life moments. But for now, I’m sitting alone on the sofa, typing. I’m just about to make a cup of tea and read a great book in peace. Does that make me happy? Yes it does…

Can you remember the happiest day of your life? I’d love to hear about it…