I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately. I don’t feel happy – hence all this business of changing my image, and not living up to other people’s expectations. I’m not depressed – been there, sent several t-shirts to Oxfam – I would recognise it anytime and this isn’t depression. I’m not sure what it is. A vague sense of ‘I can do better’ maybe – the story of my life; or ‘is this all there is …’ and ‘I’m running out of time to make it right’.
Yet when I try to analyse my life I realise that I live a pretty idyllic one for several reasons.
- I live alone so can do what I want, when I want, how I want
- I own, outright, my own house
- I have no commitments (retired)
- I have no responsibilities (kids grown up, no elderly parents – I am the elderly parent!)
- I’m mobile
- I’m reasonably healthy (barring some mobility issues due to an accident/hyper mobility syndrome)
- I’m intelligent, interested in all sorts of things, interesting (so I’m told)
In actual fact I should be deliriously happy – so why aren’t I. There are the obvious reasons, of course: varying but continuous levels of pain, lack of money, plus, and especially, feeling lonely, no-one to cuddle up to; no-one to share my life, my feelings, my ideas with, on an intimate level; no one to be 100% unconditionally on my side. But this only bothers me sometimes – usually on a night, in winter, when it’s dark and cold and silent.
No! That’s not the problem – or at least its only part of the problem. There is a constant sense of restlessness within me, and to complicate this I am just a tiny bit lazy. The root of the problem … I have decided, after months of reading self-help books, and practising my life-coaching skills on myself in an orgy of self-analysis … is my attitude to TIME. I feel it rushing by me and cannot seem to grasp it; it terrifies me into a frozen inability to act … to live. As if by my pretending not to see or acknowledge time, it might pass me by and forget all about me. There are constant reminders of time slipping by – from my children and grandchildren growing older, to the youth culture that pervades society, and through technology that is exceeding my ability to understand it. So, despite my affinity with the cycle of life and the turn of the seasons, I waste a lot of this valuable resource by – well – just doing nothing, colluding with myself and pretending I still have time to write that novel, time to visit that country, time to meet that special person.
It’s an illusion worthy of a Time Lord. The reality is, that by doing nothing, time flashes by even faster – time is relative, after all. I’m thinking about those days when I do manage to write a poem or a chapter of my children’s book or paint a watercolour or craft a page in my journal. Time slows down, suspended, as I get totally immersed in my work and I emerge feeling a sense of achievement; feeling happy. I seem to be able to pack so much into so little on those days, drifting in a state of magical meditation as words flow like paint onto my laptop, or my paints create another chapter in the journal of my life.
So, I’m in the process of setting myself some monthly goals; goals aimed at using my time more effectively – to plan (oh not set in stone, that would kill my creativity, and my free, rebellious spirit) but to consciously set aside regular time to write and paint, to meet with friends or family, and also to meditate, read, or listen to music, or just admire the birds in my winter berry-rich garden – and to be more spontaneous, to not give in to my solitude and hide away. I’m going to give myself permission to use my time to meet my needs and expectations, not other people’s. Maybe then, those wriggling worms of ‘happiness-less’ that inflict my restless heart, will migrate to somewhere else, and leave me alone … Alone … ALONE? Oh you know what I mean.
I am the Goddess: writer of words and changer of dreams; the truth spills from my mouth, painting the world the colours of my choosing.
My friend and I both recently read the Happiness Project (see below) and decided we needed a Happiness Group; somewhere we can talk about Happiness in all its varied forms, enjoy good company, and … eat cake. There was nothing locally that was remotely like what we envisioned so we launched our own group in February 2014, at a local café (Hull area). We had no idea if anyone would turn up or if it would just be the two of us, sitting on our own. Ten people joined us – we could hardly believe it – so many people interested in being happier! After three sessions we are fifteen strong and growing. One member has just built us a lovely website. So if you are someone who is interested in having more happiness (and cake) in their life (and who isn’t) go see what we are up to – we aren’t a life-coaching group, we don’t psycho-analyse, and we don’t charge; we just talk, listen, and have fun (and eat cake), and – wow – happiness grows. Happiness Group.
Happiness Matthieu Ricard
The Happiness Project Gretchen Rubin
Slow Time Waverly Fitzgerald
The Invitation Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Any book by Gill Edwards, Anna-Louise Haigh or Susan Jeffers
… or just look into your own heart and be honest with yourself – identify what really, really matters to you, and then find a way of doing it. In the end, that’s just what I did – I found another canvas – my soul. See my poem the Book of Time