A recipe for happiness?

Happy Snoopy

It’s happened before and it’s happening again. Instead of reaching January and writing a list of unattainable resolutions, I’ve reached January and began again to ponder the nature of happiness. I even bought a book, Happy This Year by Will Bowen, which falls firmly under the category of ‘self-help’ (after last year buying The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin). According to Bowen, the more you think about happiness and the more time you spend assessing your own happiness level, the happier you’ll become, because happiness is inherently a choice we make regardless of all life’s ups and downs.

A lot of the details of The Happiness Project escape me now a year on, but there are parts of it that I do remember – for example having a mantra (especially as a mum, I’m always taking a deep breath on the hard days and repeating “the days are long but the years are short”), accept your limitations and work to your strengths, cultivate a passion and be more mindful – being present in the moment and also observing yourself in the moment (I guess this one helps with yelling at the kids?).

Any hoo, I’ve decided that Bowen is probably just about right with the idea of deciding to be happy – it’s all about picking out the positives and reminding yourself on a regular basis, seeing difficult situations as challenges and not problems, etc.

I know for a fact that I feel happier and definitely come across as a happy person after I write a #Littleloves post for Morgana’s Friday linky. To focus on the good bits of life on a regular basis is to remind yourself that there is a lot to be thankful for.

Gretchen Rubin has published a five year diary that you only write down one sentence a day in, and I’m going to buy myself one because I love the idea of picking out the best bit of any given day and choosing that to be the memory to look back on. I believe there was some sort of Facebook tag thingy not long ago that asked people to post three or five positives a day and this is very much a similar idea.

Today I am happy because:

  • I cooked a delicious roasted parsnip soup and some courgette & corn fritters which were recipes I’d never tried before.
  • I decided to re-discover my camera and photography which was something that brought me a lot of happiness last year.
  • I had my hair cut and it is manageable again!
  • My children were pretty good around bedtime and I didn’t have to raise my voice at all.
  • I cooked a really tasty dinner of soy marinaded salmon and broccoli rice using ingredients I already had in the house, thereby saving a bit of money buying food unneccessarily.
  • I get paid tomorrow!

I am working on my work/family/blog/life balance right now and although I feel that I would blog more if I had the opportunity, I am working within my limitations and trying to be more mindful of my family. When those around you – your loved ones – are happy, it resonates. But equally, pursuing a passion is a very strong contender for a happier you. It can be a delicate balancing act and I’m definitely still working on it.

Do you think you need to practice being happy more often?

Linking up with the lovely Jenny over at Let’s Talk Mommy for this week’s #sharewithme


29 thoughts on “A recipe for happiness?

  1. It’s great to hear you being so positive hon. I agree that happiness is within all our reach, but getting into negative cycles of behavior is so easy. Especially as parents, but it’s even more important to recognise them and change them, for the sake of the kids. As you said when they are happy it resonates! Lovely post xx
    Reneé @ Mummy Tries recently posted…Why I WriteMy Profile

    • I think you are probably very qualified to talk about raising yourself out of negative cycles of behaviour Reneé! You seem like someone who tries to live a very mindful life but it is a daily task to manage small children and constant reminders are definitely the order of the day! Xx

  2. It’s ALWAYS great to be reminded of the little things.
    I’ve seen the fb 3 thing lists, and 5 happy thing lists, 3 wonderful people in your life lists… Grateful lists… I think that one sentence diary would be great! No space to start rambling… A easily reviewable in any ‘not so awesome’ moment too 🙂
    Can you get that on Amazon?
    Steph @MisplacedBrit recently posted…Gluten Free Roasted Hazelnut BiscuitsMy Profile

  3. Ah I love this post Sam and I think you’ve got some very positive goals in there – some that we all need to adhere to a bit more often! I think that happiness can be a choice but sometimes people just cannot get past a ‘low’ but all of these little things help. I’ve always wanted to begin joining in with Morgana’s Little Loves but I fear it will become something else that will pile the pressure on to keep up with – blogging can sometimes feel that way for me. It really is soooo hard to get that blogging/life balance right. I limit myself to 3 posts a week and one picture post at the weekend otherwise I simply can’t keep up with the commenting. I’ve also reduced the amount of linkies that I take part in because again, I can’t keep up and that isn’t fair. Lovely post x
    Suzanne recently posted…What If?My Profile

    • I think we must be quite similar Suzanne – especially when it comes to trying to know where to draw the line with blogging. I’ve been blogging for a lot less time than you but I think I am coming to that point too where I can see that I can’t maintain writing a post a day and joining every linky going – as you say, the commenting is so time consuming and it just isn’t fair to always be link-dumping. I’m managing about three a week at the moment too and I want to re-instate my Sunday photo post too because I like having a reason to attempt to take a great photo! I have to admit that sometimes I choose to do a #littleloves post over another linky that I know will get me more views, just because it is such a rewarding post to write at the end of each week 🙂 (alhtough I often struggle with the ‘wore’ and the ‘made’ bits though 🙂 ) Also – I don’t join up every week, only when I feel I have enough of interest to say about what I’ve been up to! X

    • Wow, I’m a bit overwhelmed by how much people are loving this post! I just thought I was throwing down some randomly occuring thoughts! Nice to know my words might help others to get their own happiness projects off the ground – good luck!! X

  4. You are so right – I find it so easy to sink into despair some days and not appreciate the good. I’m still reading the Happiness Project, so I hope I get a grip soon! #ShareWithMe

    • It takes a huge amount of effort some days so don’t beat yourself up. I certainly read The Happiness Project feeling full of enthusiasm at the beginning of last year only to find myself back in the same place again, but I think that’s why you probably need some kind of structured plan of action (a bit like Rubin’s Resolutions chart) to keep reminding yourself to think positive and keep moving forwards. X

  5. I think they have got it right and it is how I feel. I sort of operate on a fake it till you make it mindset some days as if I wallow and focus on the negatives I feel much worse than if I pick out the positives. Think happy thoughts long enough and pretty soon it becomes your natural thing. Everyone has difficult days and down times but I do think most of us have a choice about how happy we feel (mental illness like depression is a whole other thing I think). Lovely post and glad you are feeling happier, it is difficult to find a balance and sometimes I think I spend too much time blogging over doing other thigns, but then I enjoy it so I remind myself that it is worthwhile! xx
    Caroline (Becoming a SAHM) recently posted…The truth about Making a baby smileMy Profile

    • Thanks so much for this comment Caroline – it’s good to remind ourselves of how to be happy sometimes and it’s also good to try and share how we make it work ourselves, especially with the blog/family/life balance. Xx

    • I can see your point Jenny but I guess his point is that repeatedly thinking about happiness has an effect on your subconcious – it’s like creative visualisation – fake it til you make it, call it what you will but it’s all about creating that mental environment in which your subconcious mind is receptive to postive thoughts and actions. Of course that isn’t where it ends and actions come next – I haven’t got to the ‘actions’ chapter yet 🙂 X

  6. You’re definitely speaking the truth when it comes to work/life/blog/family balance. It is a very delicate one to master and like you, most of us are working on it as well. I like the point you made about the resonating happiness of a family, but nurturing your passions because that makes you happy as well. It’s an interesting thought and one that I’ve been struggling to balance and cope with during these past months. It’s refreshing to know that I’m not the only one with the same thoughts of how and when to spend time with family and when to find time for myself (and not feel guilty for doing so!). Thank you for such a great post. Happiness is a fragile thing indeed, and we should all work hard to maintain some semblance of it.
    Maria recently posted…The One with a Hand to Hold {Letter to my Daughter Vol. 4 }My Profile

    • I’m so glad that this post has struck a nerve with so many others and we generally all struggle with the same balancing act. If it has given anyone the motivation to join me on a quest for lasting happiness then that will be a great boost to my own happiness journey! X

    • Ah thanks Sian – and funnily enough one of Bowen’s tips to getting happy is to find a ‘happiness buddy’ so that you can check in and support and motivate each other! I’ll happily be your buddy 🙂 Xx

  7. Wow a nice read. Am I happy? Nope. I should be as I have a healthy son and well just having a son should give me happiness already. I dont why I cant appreciate things that I have. I am homesick and I have this notion that I will only be happy when I get back home. Its so scary though for when that time comes that I can really go back home, what if I am still not happy?

    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…B&W WednesdayMy Profile

    • I think it is really tricky to talk about happiness when you have huge problems or issues in your life to overcome. The author of the book argues that happiness is not dictated by external events in our lives but by how we deal with them and how we choose to put ourselves out in the world. I can totally understand your melancholy at being separated from your true home and family though. Just remember, only you can make yourself happy? Hugs X

  8. I loved The Happiness Project and I’m going to check out the diary you suggested. It sounds neat. I’d also like to get Bowen’s happiness book. Have you read Rubin’s second book, Happier at Home? That was really good, too!
    normaleverydaylife recently posted…Painted PianoMy Profile

  9. This is great even though I consider myself a happy person I think I could always be happier by choosing to be. I also bought that Happiness Project book. I wasn’t as keen on it though. I will be honest. But you made a great point it’s what we choose. This year I am thinking differently about alot of things and I already feel better for it. Lovely post. May we both be filled with more happiness than we already are now. 🙂 Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme
    jenny recently posted…Fruit Puff Pastry Tart RecipeMy Profile

    • I think Rubin is quite an intellectual and it’s less of a self-help book than the one I’m reading now because there’s more of her personal story and journey in it. I think you’re doing the right thing in constantly re-appraising your approach to day to day life and adjusting and tweaking how you do things – it’ll be perfect eventually 🙂 X

  10. This is such a lovely uplifting post to read on a grey Saturday afternoon, Sam! I loved it! The book sounds really good, and I really like the idea of that five-year diary. I kept a second calendar all last year where I wrote a happy thing, but not every day unfortunately. I find I just don’t remember to do it but even having it as a prop makes you notice the happy as it happens. Happiness is a project we should all be focusing on and I hope you find your happy! xxx PS Sorry I didn’t link up this week, but like you say, I didn’t have time to comment or even look for a relevant post as I didn’t write one till Weds this week (which wasn’t really relevant anyway). xx
    Jess Paterson recently posted…The Precedent – The Parent’s Greatest FearMy Profile

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