Yet another survey has been published decreeing what it takes to be happy this week. Owning a house, a dog and having a family are up there, although not until your kids have grown up and left home, apparently. These are decided as the generic things we should aspire to increase our happiness levels, that and a short commute to work so they say.
We are though all different and one man’s meat is quite frankly another’s poison and therefore subjective. When compiling my own happiness list the owning of (a mortgaged) house and the family is a work in progress and my girls are still hopefully many years from being grown up or left home. Most of the items i originally thought for my happiness list were purely materialistic. Surely i couldn’t be that shallow ? (err…yes is the correct answer) so i tried to look beyond that. This is what i came up with;
For the day to not start unless it begins with a 7 in it. Whether that is 7.01am or 7.59am – i don’t care as long as it isn’t starting with a 6 or an eye watering 5. It makes a huge difference to your mental well-being when you start your day.
To no longer ‘have’ a mortgage. This might come under the materialistic header as mentioned above, but the financial flexibility that is afforded should you actually own every brick in your house and not just the interest on some of them, takes an enormous amount of pressure off of you and stops you from passing over possible opportunities in fear of being too reckless and not meeting your monthly payments. Financial freedom is not to be under rated.
To finish writing my book and be published and to not receive a single savaging review. That means I would need to find my ever elusive ‘voice’….which i just can’t seem to pin down however hard i try.
To learn to cook the Catalan way. Paella is my absolute favourite dish and often, too often it is done so very badly. I reason if i can learn to cook it, which i haven’t even tried to through fear of ruining my gastronomic fantasy I can eat it whenever i choose. Paella and a hearty Rioja are the food of Gods.
To have the key or switch to stop my children whining, moaning, crying or generally being unhappy now and throughout the rest of their lives. I know of no other bone rattler or nerve shredder than hearing it, whether it is justified or not. It is the fast track way for me to lose my sanity and I would literally do anything to stop it, even momentarily for a quiet life. If I can’t have that just the ability to zone out the noise.
To have a cleaner, permanently, like a live in Mum. Or some invention that keeps things tidy, for like, forever. Many share the virtue of a messy home being a sign of a home that is lived in and memories made but I like, no need, to a degree that is order, a half full washing bin and just a little mess – any more and my mind feels cluttered. It’s stifling.
Banish dry clean clothes (or hand wash). Everything i seem to covert lately seems to have a dry clean tag. I made a pledge with myself that when I stopped working in the City I wouldn’t be held hostage by endless dry cleaning piles of clothes waiting to be dropped off or picked up and the ridiculous cost they charge not to mention the inflexible hours they are open.
Drinking only good wine. None of the Supermarket mass marketed hooch, which they then try to sell under the guise of ‘offer of the week’. Being married to a South African my wine palate has been opened up to a whole host of fabulously affordable wines. To drink them all the time, is well, happiness in a glass personified.
And that is where i got to with compiling my Happiness List, when I went off for my weekly visit to Betty, my old Lady friend who i met through the befriending charity. As she opened the door to me this Friday i was met with a more frail version then i usually am. She had black eyes, a heavily bruised nose and chin.
I stopped in my tracks. She had taken a fall flat on her face on her kitchen floor which is covered in stone quarry tiles the day before. There she had lain for over an hour before the care agency were able to come and help her up, with blood pouring from her nose. They came and assessed her and deemed a hospital visit not necessary. Despite her teeth penetrating her upper lip as she fell and she’s been unable to clean her teeth or eat anything since. More importantly, her confidence was at an all time low and she was scared. She doesn’t know why she fell.
As she sat there telling me her sorry tale, all i could think of was my Happiness List and the things i deem important to me which right then, felt really unimportant. Then i felt angry for her. Her sons live so far away from her and are not here when she needs them the most. She has no one to turn to. I understand they have their own lives and pressures but it’s their mum, surely they can see what is happening to her?
But what is the solution? I can see all sides of this problem right now.
As a young Mum myself, i am living the daily grind of rearing children and unless you’re doing it, its easy to forget how tough it actually is. The relentless routine of wiping their mouths and dirty behinds, feeding them and keeping them happy and out of harms way, usually on broken sleep. I can’t deny the insurmountable satisfaction and joy I feel most of the time. I do it because they are mine and i love them so, they are apart of me but i hope against hope they will repay my kindness and unconditional love at some point, not by wiping my mouth or dirty behind but just being close by when i really need them. For them to want to do this at whatever cost is what i should really put on my ultimate big picture Happiness list if there were to be one.
That is why we have family isn’t it? so we are there for each other when it matters and life becomes more complicated as we attempt to inject some kindness & happiness in the otherwise.