15 Apr 2016

Diamonds and Dysons - My Happiness Non Negotiables

When I was tasked to write about my happiness non-negotiables, I thought it would be easy, but I ended up thinking more about `why` certain things made me happy - what they did that made me actually "happy" and content - why they had the innate power to do so.

I'm not sure what I, as someone with intermittent depression and panic disorder, even mean by happiness. Even at my most depressed, I have experienced happiness or joy. If material objects make us happy, does that mean someone with "nothing" (eg latest gadget, expensive handbag, gig tickets) is not happy. Is happiness a state of being - does it mean being "not-sad" or does it mean "content"? 

If it means the opposite of sad - "not-sad"- does that mean that rather than being elated with our life it more about being "satisfied" or content with our lot in life - whether that be a 40 bedroom mansion or mud hut? It's often said that money can't buy happiness, but it certainly makes life much easier and can reduce worries leaving a person "not sad".  I guess, for this post, I went with what keeps me on an even keel and helps me enjoy the good things in my life. whether I'm simply content, or euphoric at times.

Let's assume that we know that the basics are covered - food/water, shelter/safety, good health. Those are standard requirements and in any context or time in my life, have not caused me worry - thus creating a feeling of "not sad". Ditto with books, music, good relationships and good food/wine - things that nourish the soul, regardless of how much they change within my lifetime - the books that make me happy as an adult, would not have made me happy aged 5. 

So then, what are my happiness non negotiables and what have they got to do with vacuums and jewellery. They break down into 3 main areas.

My husband, my children, my friends and family, acquaintances, colleagues, random chatty people, kind bus drivers, nice check out assistants....the list goes on. But what it boils down to is love, kindness and respect. These qualities help keep me focused and centered, to stay calm when my mental health is causing chaos. . Things were pretty shit last year, when I was pregnant. I was the most mentally ill i've been. Walking along the edge of an abyss in your head is very lonely. The support I had from friends and family was an invisible hand holding mine in my darkest hours to bring me back from the edge. People make me happy. I don't want to be alone.

I love doing chores. I do. I might not want to do them all the time and there are other things I prefer, but small chores, cooking, folding laundry makes me happy for two reasons. It gives me a sense of purpose and achievement - which at any age in life is important, as anyone who allows a small child to help out will know (their little chests puff up with self importance when they press the washing machine button, lay the table, grease a cake pan). Completing chores increases my sense of self worth.

I also love chores for their mindlessness - leaving me free to plan out much more exciting things in my head. Folding laundry or washing up - repetitive tasks - put me into a meditative state. It's often when I plan out blogposts or flesh out ideas for fiction projects. I allow myself to brainstorm ideas for characters, plot points, locations. I return to these thoughts over and over again before committing words to paper. I do this with work projects also - and if I'm having a problem it helps me turn it over in my head, figure out a solution. Mindlessness make me happy.

Phone, laptop - they make me happy by enabling me to stay in touch with people, to connect when I'm lost and lonely. They help me create, to pin down memories and write. Which keeps me sane, no matter how long it's been (as you can tell from the rustiness of this post). 
TV, iPod - to immerse myself in sounds and images, I couldn't be without music and movies. And the latest on Made In Chelsea (!). There's a whole world out there, on our screens and we can explore it in so many ways.
Dyson/Slow Cooker/Nutribullet. Yes, I love a good kitchen gadget - they keep me and my family healthy and they save me time. I feel good knowing I'm eating well and enjoying the process of cooking and creating in itself.

It may be materialistic to derive happiness and satisfaction from these items - they're not cheap and it's a luxury to own most of them - but they help me stay happy. It's nice to be in touch with people, to create things and to stay healthy.

Having written all this, I now realise I've pretty much come up with...Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs all by myself...oops!

I guess my main happiness non negotiable is balance - in all things, health, relationships, activities - so that I can appreciate everything for what it is and not get stuck inside my own head.

Thank you and goodnight,

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS. I forgot diamonds didn't I.....well I do love my engagement ring. It's pretty and it makes me feel loved. Sometimes it's just as simple as that.


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