What is happiness?

I have been asked to consider this question this week. What is happiness? I describe the feeling of happiness as a sense of contentment. If asked, “are you happy?” I would answer, “yes” because in my day to day life, the percentage of things that are lovely are higher than the percentage of things that are not.

My feeling of happiness is a thread that runs in the background due to my main needs being met. I love my family, my home and I am healthy. I have the space to do things I like doing. I have not always been happy. For me, understanding my basic criteria for a happy me, helps me maintain this contentment.

If I consider times when I was not happy, by considering the opposite it cements what I need to be content in my life. When I lived in a terraced house with the thinnest walls surrounded by noise and worse – the smell! I was not happy. I had to get into a car to drive to somewhere peaceful to walk the dog. I couldn’t sit in my garden. I couldn’t play loud music. I didn’t have many opportunities to meet with other mums when I was on maternity leave. I was surrounded in debt, alcohol abuse, crime, noise, filth, drugs. I couldn’t escape.

But I did escape. You can read about it here. It is easy to write a list of how shit those times were, but they brought me to where I am now. The house made money while we lived in it, allowing us to climb the property ladder. There were good people everywhere. I also appreciate every iota of where I live now.

I am not writing this from a position of on high. I’m signed off work. I couldn’t sleep last night for worrying about my husband. I went for an MRI scan yesterday as they suspect I have leaking spinal fluid after my surgery. But I was caught up in standstill traffic on the way on the brow of a hill overlooking Oxfordshire with the autumn leaf changes kicking in. We are so short of food now in the long wait til payday, I had to give my daughter fake nutella on a hot cross bun for breakfast, which I also had. It tasted pretty good. It isn’t about seeing the bright side in everything, it is about noticing little moments of joy.

Joy, for me is the little sprinkles that you can add to your day. I literally picture joy as gold glitter. If you start to think of the things you are grateful for, some of those things will make the edges of your mouth turn up or a little tickle in your tummy. Those are the joy moments. For example, I am so grateful for my car, I love it. It is safe for my family, it’s powerful and you can fit loads in it. A joy moment recently was when I was approaching a roundabout with Bon Jovi, Keep the Faith playing really loudly – the moment of pulling away at the roundabout coincided perfectly with the drums kicking in and for that moment I was a fucking rock star.

Sometimes the moments of joy are so fleeting, but the more you can try and acknowledge them, the happier you become. I was drawing recently and I saw a little bit of the page looked so rich and inky it made me feel excitement for just a second. That was joy. Noticing joy makes me happy.

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