First off, it is purely a happy coincidence that on the day of publishing this post, it happens to be International Day of Happiness. I didn't know that there was a day allocated to celebrating happiness, but what a fantastically relevant start to a series!
Happiness is important to me, as I suspect, it is important to many of us. As I progress through life, I continue to better understand myself. As a result of experiencing the challenges that life has nudged and, at times, thrown in my direction, happiness has become a top priority. Now, I realise that this has the potential to be perceived as selfish, but it is not intended as such, rather an additional priority to be considered alongside the many other responsibilities we each have in life. Let me explain.
We, as humans and creatures of intelligence, will all have our own perspective of what happiness is and how we can achieve this state of being. As life progresses and new experiences are undertaken, we develop an understanding of the things that we like and don’t like, and subsequently, make choices as to what we incorporate into our daily lives and routines.
For many years, I have pootled along being pretty low maintenance and accepting, what I would now regard to be, a relatively rudimentary level of existence. This is not a complaint nor intended as a negative reflection, I was just someone who didn’t care for, what I considered to be the boring and irrelevant, such as scenery, sounds or nature. To demonstrate, if someone pointed out how pretty the sky looked, I would just think 'okay, but it is just the sky', with no appreciation; it just wasn't something that I found pleasing to look at.
Although I do not often struggle with anxiety, more recently, during a difficult few years, I reached a level of being to which I never wish to return. To be fair it could have been a lot worse and many people go through far more gruelling experiences, but as an average citizen of England, it was a very challenging time for me and my brain, and it was tough. However, what that experience did give me was a different outlook on life.
When trying to cope with prolonged high levels of stress and anxiety, much advice tells us to be mindful. Utilising the increasingly unmasked practice of mindfulness to give the body and soul some time out was something I chose to explore a little further, and it was during this research and trial of these coping mechanisms that my attitude began to change. Unexpectedly, I am laughing as I write this. My mind is off imagining a revelatory moment when the clouds part, the sun beams through and I stand with open arms, smiling at the sky. That didn’t happen, of course. I don’t know when the pinnacle point of change took place, I just know that it did at some stage and I became aware of a different appreciation of life.
There are several distinct memories from during this time which drew my attention to the fact that my attitude was changing. From realising that I was marvelling at a sunrise and in awe of the sight of a spooky looking moon, to finding myself sitting quieting at home, appreciating a glass of red wine whilst listening to the patter of the rain; all things I never thought I would do.
Thus, I accepted and took pleasure from this newly unearthed perspective of the world. I found myself developing a far greater curiosity for ways to appreciate more and, as part of this, I spent some time perusing google. I discovered, to my delight, a love of reading blog posts within which the author defines the elements that enrich their individual day-to-day.
Of course, that isn’t the end of the story. As we will all know, it isn’t as simple as obtaining a few ideas to miraculously live happily ever after. However, the more we can understand about ourselves, the more we can take steps to enhance our day-to-day. I have no particular beliefs about whether science or religion has an impact on life and what happens after, but at the risk that we only get one chance at it, I want to spend it being as happy as I can.
And so, I thought I would offer up my take on the things that help me to stay happy. This is in the hope that these things can help you too and, thus, this commences a series of posts related to happiness and how we, as normal human beings, can try to appreciate the world we live in and make the best of the life we have.