Happiness means different things to different people and most of us have a vague idea of what makes us happy. Maybe we’re reasonably happy on a day to day basis but we’ve never really put much thought into where those feelings come from or what experience is making us happy. Part of the reason that happiness often feels so elusive is that we don’t spend time focusing on what we need in order to cultivate happiness – it’s actually defined as a state of well-being or a pleasurable or satisfying experience defined by positive or pleasant emotions. I’ve been bogged down at work, stressed and tired, so I decided to make one day of happiness a priority for myself last week.
Spending time with those that you love
Did you know that happy people spend time with others and spend the least time alone? We all need support from others, friendships and meaningful relationships. I adore spending time with my family but I rarely get much one on one time with my daughter, so we decided to plan a day out together, doing things that we both enjoy. Together, we wrote a list of the things that make us happy – big and little, easy and difficult – and posted that list on the fridge. Over the course of a week, if either of us were feeling fed up, we could look a that list and imagine the day that we were planning and looking forward to, we added to the list, discussed and worked out a final itinerary.
Visiting an art gallery
Nothing boosts my own personal creativity and happiness more than visiting art galleries. I’m not sure how it works, but it feels like osmosis. Being around art and in the company of creative people makes me happy. We visited Tate Britain to see the David Hockney retrospective exhibition which gathers together his most famous works and celebrates his achievements in painting, drawing, photography and video. I particularity loved his portraits and Los Angeles swimming pools and my daughter was very taken with his most recent work using an ipad.
Enjoying a meal together
We know from experience that spending time with people and talking about important subjects makes us happier people and stronger families. Something magical happens when you are talking over a meal – your whole body relaxes and conversations help us bond, plan and connect with one another. My daughter and I went to our favourite restaurant Tibits, which has the added bonus of encouraging her to try new foods, as they serve a mix of vegetarian and vegan food from all over the world and you pay by weight, so you can take as much or as little as you want.
Reading a book
J.L Rowling said “If you don’t like to read, then you haven’t found the right book yet”. There is something magic about opening a book and leaving the real world behind. I don’t think that there’s anything that will transport you away from the mundane minutiae of your routine better than a book. Whether you read for relaxation, motivation or pure escapism, the truth is that reading makes you happier. My daughter and I both love reading and spent half an hour in Waterstone’s choosing a book each.
Whatever your choice of creative activity, there is something about practical arts like painting or sewing that is deeply rewarding. I love the sense of satisfaction I get when I sit behind my sewing machine and join pieces of fabric together. Remember the adage, “It is better to give then to receive?” I decided to make something for my daughter, so we visited John Lewis’s haberdashery, which had a selection of fabulous fabrics. We both walked around, touching the fabrics and decided on some white cotton with a tiny turquoise print. My mind was wild with ideas and I just couldn’t wait to get home and start sewing.
These are just five things that make me happy but I think that even just making yourself smile will put you in a better place. When I’m in the middle of doing something that makes me happy I actually say to myself, “This makes me happy.” So try and be consciously aware and thankful for happiness.