Tag Archives: What is happiness?

Happiness is… SORTING YOUR LIFE OUT!

It is easy enough to say you are going to sort your life out if you feel like you are in control of most aspects of your life. If you are not, or if you do not feel like you are, then sorting your life out can seem like an insurmountable mountain of a task which you spend all your days attempting to climb, but you keep tripping over the metaphorical rocks of circumstance or slipping on the figurative ice patches of situation and ending up at the bottom of the mountain again. Really this mountain imagery can’t stretch much further, because the whole point of sorting your life out is to feel more in control and more grounded, and you don’t feel like that if you are at the top of a mountain. You feel like your fate is in the hands of the elements, a strong wind could blow you right off of there, a sudden snow storm could leave you stranded, rain could flood you out. Maybe this metaphorical mountain isn’t such a bad thing to use to describe getting in control of your life after all. Maybe the whole thing should be about climbing down the mountain, from the unorganised and chaotic peaks of existence to the ground where everything is comfortable and safe. Or it? At least when you are at the top of a mountain you can see whats coming. Who knows what dinosaurs are waiting round the corner to eat you! Yeah, no, sorry, the imagery had gone to far. I am sorry.

All I am trying to say is that maybe not know what is going to happen next, which way is up, where your favourite pair of scissors are (I really don’t know, they are lost in my room! I need them for my washis!), or when you will next be to say you have nothing left on your to do list, is not so bad. Maybe it is adding some variety to life? Maybe if you had your life all sorted out then you would be bored, or thrown completely off if something terrible (like a dinosaur) comes along. At least if you have no idea what is going on, you know to expect anything at any time and so can handle situations that might seem chaotic more easily than if you lived a comfortable and safe life… Maybe it sometimes pays to not have your life sorted out, because you are never REALLY in control of it anyway, so at least when you are used to things being rocky and slippery you are more equipped to deal with it.

Maybe happiness is sorting your life out, or maybe happiness is just sorting your head out to realise that your life will never be completely “sorted out” because there will never be a time when you are in control of every single thing in it.

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1. Happiness is… pillow fights.

Hello, this is a few days late because I was having too much fun. Sorry not sorry.

What is happiness? My problem with happiness, I think, that no matter how content I am about one aspect of my life, there is always something else that is not going well that I am prone to concentrate on. I have been talking to lots of people recently about this, and the general consensus is that I am too negative and this is why I am having that problem. I definitely am too negative, that is a true fact. I sort of do this thing where I am like I am poor and I am sick and so I am allowed to be negative. BUT I was also negative before I was sick, and also before I needed to worry about money so this is not really a valid excuse. So, for me, part of my happiness project is trying to be less negative. I am going to try and see the best in situations, and in people, and get over negative attitudes I have towards things. And people. We will see how this works out!

This weekend I was helping volunteer at a truly wonderful place in the Barras called “On The Corner”. We were having a market (cleverly named “Market on The Corner”, do you see what they did there?) and the goal of the market was to raise awareness about the social enterprise businesses that were selling their wares at the market, but ALSO to raise awareness for On The Corner, which is going to be this fantastic community centre space for the Barras, and is entirely volunteer run and funded by donations. The funding for community centres and projects in the Calton area, and indeed most of Glasgow, has been massively cut and so the only way for something like this to exist is for people to take the initiative to do it themselves. And that is just what the On The Corner team have done. The are renting this massive 5 story building off their own backs, and turning it into an amazing space for the community to come together and be happy. Happy. That is what the whole thing is about. Making people happy. Even the WiFi password is ‘BeHappy’! And the people who were coming through the doors on Saturday and Sunday were so glad that someone had decided the happiness of the people of Calton was something worth dedicating time and effort to. There was one man who came in to the cafe part of the market (There’s No Such Thing As A Free Lunch Cafe). He had no money, he had said this when he came in, but he was asked to join a table and sit down and then was brought coffee and cake anyway and told “it’s okay”. He sat back amazed. He couldn’t believe it. “It’s nice to be nice!” he said, as though suddenly realising this for the first time. There was something really powerful about that. Maybe people aren’t aware that it is nice to be nice? I wondered at the time how we could get the word out about this. By being nice, of course. Niceness is catching. Well, is it? I hope it is.

It was a long weekend, and everyone was super worn out afterwards. When we were done on Sunday and all of the members of the public had gone home, a few of us sat on comfy seats and ate some food while watching Netflix and chatting. That was rather lovely, especially since I introduced a 5 year old to Aladdin and she was utterly hooked (Same 5 year old taught me my new favourite song, “Shut down Dungavel, They are people and you are people, shut down Dungavel, Nobody is illegal!”. She was pretty brilliant!). We then had a Dream Machine Session, a part of a project by Matt Lygate, where he puts all this trippy music on and projects moving coloured shapes on to big screens hanging from the sky. There was also a bubble machine. Everyone just sort of lay down on the floor on loads of cushions and bean bags and just chilled out. It was at this point I realised how difficult it is for me to chill out. I was lying there thinking about everything and everyone in the whole world, when i was supposed to be thinking about nothing. I kept having to move because the music was too loud, or the lights were too bright, or I was too warm, or I needed to check to see what the noise was in the other room, or I needed to get someone in the other room a glass of water because they have a migraine and I realised that is the best thing for a migraine, or I left my socks a bit close to the fan heater and I should move them before they go on fire. Lots of reasons, none of them very good, kept me from “chilling out”. Everyone else seemed to manage fine, which made it even more annoying. Am I super uptight? I think I might be! Maybe this is standing in my way of happiness!

But then, after this chill out time, a spontaneous pillow fight erupted and my uptightness seemed to be gone. Two teenagers and about ten adults started just pelting each other with cushions, pillows, duvets, beanbags, what ever was mostly soft and lying around. We then took to climbing on top of chairs and then launching ourselves off of them into a big cushion mountain. It was so much fun, it was like being a child again. Maybe happiness is being a child, or being able to be childlike, or just having fun. Just fun on its own with nothing else added on, not fun for the sake of anything, not fun to make anyone think you are cool or to show someone else a good time. Maybe happiness is just pure, unadulterated, fun. Maybe happiness is… pillow fights.

Introduction

Okay so over the next while (again, I am not going to commit to a time period because it is boring and has been done, and also I don’t like committing to things) I am going to research happiness and try out some things that people say make them happier. I have made my own list of things that I think probably contribute to happiness, and if all these things aligned I can see no reason as to why one would not be happy. BUT they will never all align, that’s not how life works! And that is okay. I think what I have learned so far about happiness, from chatting to people in pubs and also from reading and watching things about happiness, is that happiness is maybe something about learning to put the negative things aside sometimes and allowing yourself to just forget about them and be happy. Anyway, here is the list, and feel free to comment with anything important that you think I have missed.

THINGS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO MY HAPPINESS:

  1. Having energy (not feeling tired/sluggish) – This is easier said than done when you have MS, because no matter how much sleep you get or how well you eat you will probably still be tired. Still, having a more regular routine can’t hurt, so I am going to try and be in every night by 1am, and I am going to get up the first time I wake up, rather than waking up and looking at the clock and thinking “Oh, I don’t have to be anywhere for ages, let’s go back to sleep”.
  2. Having good health (feeling healthy and well) – Again, I have MS, so this isn’t really possible, but I can aim to feel as healthy and well as is within my control. This means getting as much sleep as possible, eating well, and making sure not to over do it.
  3. Cultivating good relationships (keeping in touch with people) – I think for me this means sending messages to people who I haven’t spoken to a while, making sure they are doing okay. Friendships are like beautiful plants and you have to make sure to water them!
  4. Being a proactive friend/family member (keeping up with their lives/showing up when you say you will, or when they need you) – I need to make sure if someone is going through something, like an illness (their own, or a family members), a job change, or moving home, that I keep up to date on how things are going for them. Then, if they need me to be there for them, I will be.
  5. Helping others (helping a charity/friend/someone in need) – This makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile and not just wasting my life.
  6. Staying politically active (stay engaged, fight the good fight) – This is directly related to point number 5 in my book, politics is all about happiness. The right that every person has to by happy, and for those “in charge” to defend that right.
  7. Achieving things (finish tasks, master skills, get good feedback) – Whether it be things like finishing chores, performing on stage, or writing something.
  8. Enjoying your habitat (keep flat tidy/clean/free from clutter, enjoy being in) – I love just sitting in a room and thinking there is nothing that I would want to change about this room right now, nothing needs picked up, nothing needs rearranged, nothing needs fixed. I also love going to bed knowing that everything is where it should be. I used to be a lot worse about this sort of thing, like properly obsessed with chores to the point I was annoying. I moved into my flat in December and only learned how to work the hoover a couple of weeks ago, so I have definitely changed!
  9. Making money (get paid for jobs, get a regular income) – Well, this is obvious. I think that if you aren’t worrying about paying bills and paying back debt then you are obviously going to feel a lot more free, and capable of being happy. Also money is often very key in making you feel like you are worth something. That is even probably why we use that expression!
  10. Spending money wisely (buy things that you need/that make you happy) – I am all about spending money, why would you save for tomorrow when tomorrow might not come! Don’t save money in case you have a good idea, have the good idea and then save money for it! OR better yet be in a position where you can have a good idea and then get a loan and do the idea, and then save money to pay the loan back! IDEAL WORLD, right?
  11. Trying to see the best in the situation (stay optimistic/hopeful) – This is important. Allowing yourself to be optimistic and/or hopeful is hard. I have been trying to do this for things like hearing back from PIP, which I have been waiting on for 6 months, and thinking things like WHEN I am awarded pip rather than IF I am rewarded PIP. Also seeing the best in a situation, if I miss the bus then I get to have a wee browse around the shops until the next bus and who knows what I might find or who I might meet…
  12. Staying informed (read, learn, grow) – Read books, listen to people talk, watch documentaries, even just read Wikipedia…
  13. Dedicating time to fun (books, films, games, gigs) – Do what you love, and love what you do. Fun is important and I think, as adults, we often put it on the back burner. Not okay! I mean fun is the best part of life. Fun is the thing that makes life worth it. Why don’t we dedicate more time to fun? We deserve fun!

Okay so that is my list. Those are the things that I think contribute to happiness. You might not agree, and this list might not fit your life, but this is my list, not yours, so that is okay. Feel free to comment with anything you think I should consider adding!

Preface

Hello, my name is Kirsty and I am a terrible blogger. This is true, not only in the quality of my blogs (whiny boring self centered nonsense that nobody would want to read), but also in the quantity (I haven’t actually blogged for eight months). I read through my old blogs and mostly I am embarrassed, but I have decided not to delete them because there are parts in them that I must keep so that I can occasionally remind myself how far I have come since then, and also how much I have still to grow.

I want to remind you that this is indeed a preface, and that there is a “good bit” coming eventually, just give me another wee moment to update the blog with my life over the past eight months and then I will be able to continue.

In the past eight months everything has been quite terrible.

I feel like that is enough of an update for me to now continue with the preface.

If given a space to talk about myself, whether it be a blog or a “How are you? What have you been up to?” section of a conversation, I will almost always unload the reader/listener with the most depressing load of oversharing that they have ever heard. I will moan not only about my immediate situation (I’m hungry, I’m cold, I have an overwhelming taste of cauliflower in my mouth, etc.) but also about life in general (I’m poor, I’m sick, I can’t find any work, I have been rejected for PIP, etc.). Nobody cares. Okay that is not true, like maybe about five people outside of your immediate family care. And just because they care doesn’t mean you have to unload all this information on them at any given minute, you dour, self centered, boring, woman-child. They, and the others who you are oversharing with, would much prefer if you were telling them about cheerful happy things that actually enriched their day.

I remember when I was working for Yes and whenever I was at an event on behalf of Yes I would have to be this cheery, nice, approachable person who was interesting to talk to. It was actually quite nice because I found that, as this person, I made contacts who actually wanted to stay in touch. It wasn’t until afterwards that they found out what a depressing bat I am that they decided never to speak to me IRL again. It is the same when I am working with kids, no matter how annoyed at the world I am I never let it show to the kids because my time with them is all about fun and learning, and making them like me and want their parents/teachers to invite me back to work with them again. I really enjoy these times. It is almost like a fake it until you make it situation, but it actually really makes me a bit less grumpy for the rest of the day.

It was when I was thinking about this I realised that can’t remember the last time I was happy without faking it. Like properly happy. Nothing else matters kind of happy. Completely consumed by happiness. I am not even sure if that is a thing that can happen. It is for this reason, among others, that I have decided to give myself a little project to firstly try and identify happiness, then identify what creates happiness, and then try and use this knowledge to try and be generally just happier. I mean I have the best friends in the world, my family are a constant source of love and support, I have a really nice flat, and although my purse is sometimes a bit empty I still manage to have a better standard of living than a lot of people who live in this world. I should be happy. At least sometimes.

The project starts on Saturday, it will last until I get bored of it. I was going to make it a year but really those project for a year things are a little stale now because they have been done so many times. I have been reading other people’s thoughts/projects/studies on happiness, and as much as I sometimes do wish I was a wealthy, powerful, super well connected person with an exciting New York social life, I am not (sorry fifteen year old Kirsty, I let you down so much). I don’t think my life experiences and the authors of these happiness books life experiences really overlap very much. I am still going to read their stuff and see what they say, maybe take a few pointers, maybe just enjoy ridiculing them, who knows. Please recommend anything you think I might like.

I also am interested to hear from anyone who might be reading this blog. I mean if you have made it this far down this blog so far I am utterly amazed, you must really be invested now if you have sieved through all of that. Are you happy? When was the last time you felt happy? What does it mean to be happy? What are the key components of happiness? Please do comment!

See you on Saturday x