19 December 2010

The Happiness List: “Over and over, and over, and over, and over”*

As I said in my very first post, I am a constant list maker. I have drawers full of old notebooks, bought with the intention of jotting down lovely inspiring thoughts and quotes but instead, filled with list upon list, year after year. Lists of things I want to do and see and read and buy, but mostly, lists of the little things that make me happy, that I resolve to do more of. So as we approach the Season of Resolutions, here it is, my recurring Happiness List, posted for posterity in the hopes that somehow, this time, I’ll follow my own (fairly obvious) advice. 

Family and Friends  -- Nothing is nicer than spending time with the people that we care about. So clearly, doing more of this and less of other things is the way to go.  And while I’ve never been a fan of the phone, as I get older I can’t always spend as much time with people as I’d like – so the phone becomes increasingly important. Balance is important too:  I seem to veer between burning the candle at both ends and hibernating in my pjs all weekend, but like most people I’m most content somewhere in the middle.

Travel more - -  I love adventuring and experiencing new places but I don’t prioritise or plan for this as much as I could. Instead I fritter away money on lattes and magazines and taxi cabs that could be put to much better use towards a weekend away. Or even better, a fortnight. Must do better.

Light more candles - -  I’m a little obsessed with candles and blame years of reading interviews with famous ladies about travel. You know the ones. They tell you to bring a cashmere wrap for the plane which can also double as a blanket; to change clothes, apply make-up and wear sunglasses as you disembark; to bring healthy snacks because airplane food is so unpalatable and to always, always, bring a scented Diptyque candle to fragrance your hotel room. I don’t own any cashmere (yet), am too lazy to change my clothes midair and I really like airplane food -- but the candle thing is something that sunk in. I actually brought a Diptyque candle with me on our honeymoon and again to the South of France earlier this year.  It sounds a bit mad but when I burn the same candles at home it really takes me back. The problem is I often don’t bother, unless people are coming round, even though it’s such a tiny little thing that makes me feel so instantly uplifted. As well as Diptyque candles, I also like L’Occitane and Irish-owned Max Benjamin which, while still not cheap, are about half the price.

Take more baths - -  It’s amazing how much a hot, bubbly candelit bath can lift your mood. This is another one of life’s simple pleasures that really helps me to relax,  soothes my achey back muscles and increases the chance of a decent night’s sleep -- but again, it’s something that I put off time and time again in favour of vegging out in front of the TV.

Spend more time outside - -  There’s a theory that we don’t just love nature because it’s pretty, but because humans feel an innate affinity with nature and with other living things. The biophilia hypothesis says that scenes of natural beauty can reduce stress and increase focus and concentration and I find that absolutely holds true in my own experience. I love mountains and forests and parks and I don’t spend nearly as much time in them as I could do.

Get a Cat - -  I love cats. I don’t have one. Something is clearly wrong with this picture.


Grooming – - I feel better about myself when there’s a flash of colour on my nails, when my hair looks good as I haven’t left it 3 months between appointments, and when I’ve taken the time to slap on a bit of make-up before work (on the bus, obvs).  This blog is helping me to keep on track with that and I’m really enjoying trying out and writing about different products.

Take lunch away from the desk - - I could eat in the staff room with my colleagues, take a short stroll up to the river, call a friend or catch up with my book. All of these things will make me come back to work feeling refreshed and more able to deal with the challenges of the afternoon. It’s a no brainer. Just feckin’ do it already.

Write Letters – - I love email and twitter and facebook, but there is something really magical about a handwritten letter. Some time ago I bought some beautiful writing paper and I have a fountain pen gathering dust in the drawer. All I need now is to learn how to write with it and we’re away on a hack.

Be Kinder To Self - - I think a lot of the above relates to this final point. If we could just find a way to treat ourselves with a smidgeon of the kindness and respect we afford to others, to talk ourselves up instead of down and to treat ourselves to the little things we know will make a difference to our mood, then we’d all be a hell of a lot more content.

And that's about it - - all pretty obvious, and most of it costing nowt. But what about you? What little changes could you make that would make you feel happier in your day t0 day life?

*Post title: Lyric from Hot Chip, ‘Over and over’
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