Day Eleven – Is Alone Time Heaven?
Or would you rather be in Devon? (It rhymes!) Or anywhere but isolation, quarantined and unable to do what you usually do.
There are many memes doing the rounds of Facebook along with thousands of others, plus videos of people joking/coping at their changed circumstances because of COVID19.
Two are relevant to this post because I’m promoting writing as a means to fill in time, relieve boredom, improve your creative output, write that novel, memoir, poem, letter, journal you’ve always wanted to write – or just have fun playing around with words.
Today I want people to think about happiness – specifically –
What makes you happy?
Have you figured out the things in life that truly make you happy? Have those things changed as you’ve gotten older? Or changed since the onset of the global catastrophe of COVID19?
Here is another quote by Anne Frank you can use as a prompt – write down your answer after you have looked around – whether it be out your window, in your home or garden or workplace.
In a 2010 article in the New York Times, (I did say at the beginning of these daily postings, I am recycling old lessons!) “The Keys to Happiness,” Victoria Shannon reports on what we know about how to achieve happiness, according to recent research and expert advice:
Make Friends and Family a Priority …
One of the longest-running studies on living well and happily emphasises the importance of your relationships with family, friends and spouses.
At this time of upheaval, this is obvious. However, it will also have its negatives and be a testing time for many families. Sadly, in times of crisis incidences of domestic violence increase, the likelihood of divorce too sometimes sooner rather than later.
On the positive side, some relationships strengthen and I think in some countries, if not all, there may be a baby boom!
… Especially on Weekends
Busy lives can get in the way of happiness. Our feeling of wellbeing peaks on weekends, largely because of more time spent with friends and family, if you are lucky to have that regular time off. This is when people go to the zoo, visit museums, have picnics, trips to the beach, attend festivals, go for that regular bike ride…
You can’t do any of the above at the moment but you can visit many of those public facilities online – most museum and art institutions have virtual tours, zoos are posting what the animals are getting up to, and unless you are in lockdown, you can walk around the neighbourhood. Obey social distancing rules and wave to others, walk the dog, absorb the beauty in gardens – and you can still go for a bike ride.
Write about what activities you can still do – have you made new friends? reconnected with old friends? Learnt a new skill?
Or you can write about any of the activities you used to do at the weekends – perhaps the most memorable visit. Maybe a character in your story has to adjust to being housebound or restricted in some way – there are many people where being restricted is the norm!
Perhaps Anne Frank’s experience teaches us to count our blessings… write about how blessed you are now.
Income Equality Helps (So Move to Scandinavia)
National unhappiness is strongly associated with a country’s social inequality, research shows. One index finds that Scandinavia, a place with a wide and broad social net, is the location of the world’s happiest countries.
However, perhaps after this global crisis things will change… can you write down some ideas, dreams of what will improve where you live?
There was a lovely video of happy Italians playing music and singing from the balconies of their apartments during their lockdown. Another report from the UK showed a special hour where millions of people stood in their gardens or doorways clapping and cheering the workers in the National Health System to thank them for working during this health crisis.
When we value our community and the workers that keep important facilities and services there is more cohesion and happiness, less war and conflict and we all feel better.
What do you value in your community or friendship circle?
Gratitude Does, Too
Pharrell Williams, the star behind the 2014 hit music video “Happy,” on the happiness phenomenon: ”If you’re grateful, you can find happiness in everything.”
- Are you grateful for being accepted in a new country, or new suburb, new club?
- Are you grateful for your parents, children, siblings?
- Are you grateful for your pets?
- Are you grateful for your home, workplace, community house?
Now you have the time, reflect on what makes you happy and grateful – and express that thanks in writing.
I am blessed, I know and have often written about being grateful for the constant expression of love from my daughters and friends.
I try and reciprocate and pay it forward too.
The Health Factor
A correlation between happiness and good health has been evident for centuries. But which comes first? Does robust health lead to a good mood or the reverse?
Now is the time to find out, discuss, reflect and write!!
It’s Really Good for Kids
Happy kids learn faster, think more creatively, tend to be more resilient in the face of failures, have stronger relationships and make friends more easily.
Well, most of them. There have been plenty of reports and investigations into cyberbullying, the negative effects of social media etc. There are unhappy children and adolescents and so adults must all work harder to ensure we create an environment for happy children.
Don’t Overdo It or Obsess About It
Happiness engineers, chief fun officers, ministers of happiness … there’s evidence that “fungineering” at work might have precisely the opposite effect: making people miserable.
Write your thoughts on the belief that the pursuit of happiness may be an unhealthy preoccupation. Do some people have too high expectations?
If All Else Fails, Fake It
Can you fake your way to confidence and happiness? if you read some of the self-help and advice books circulating, the answer will be ‘YES’.
Some people swear by the power of positive thinking to banish negativity. They say focus on achieving your dreams or surviving bad times and things will work out.
- What recent moments of happiness have you experienced, whether large or small?
- What do you think made them so satisfying?
- Have you figured out a “magic formula” for happiness that works for you?
- A few days ago I wrote about a recipe for a good mood. Can you share your recipe for happiness?
- What will change as you get older – or what has changed recently as you cope with COVID19 news?
- What is your reaction to the keys of happiness listed above?
- Did any of the keys surprise you – is there something missing? A spiritual aspect to life perhaps that is important?
- In an earlier post, I talked about keys – did you write about the key to happiness then?
How Full Is Your Glass?
- People have a significantly lower death rate over 30 years if they maintain an optimistic attitude.
- Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
- What do you think is healthy about whichever attitude you possess?
- What might be some benefits to viewing life from the opposite perspective?
- Write a story of an optimist and pessimist being trapped somewhere together – unlikely holiday companions, work buddies during a crisis, living in a share house, trapped in a lift – or in a cabin on a cruise ship!
Five Things That Make Me Happy
- Birdsong in the morning and watching the birds cavort in the garden – especially the wattlebirds feeding on the grevillea and the magpies searching the ground for worms or carolling to each other from the electric wires. I also love when the lorikeets visit each day and feed on the bottlebrush outside my window.
- Clean sheets – I love getting into bed between clean sheets, the smooth feel and fresh smell.
- I’m happy when my daughters are – Mary Jane’s witticisms and her infectious laugh; Anne’s smile lighting up her deep blue eyes especially when she shares stories of her travels.
- I’m happy when the words come and I can finish a writing project.
- I’m happy when I get a phone call from friends, to chat or catch up over coffee, or when they drop in for a visit whether planned or unplanned.
Please share what makes you happy – and remember
… once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them and lessens the threat of their difference.
Here is a short story with a theme of love and happiness – the prompt was a picture of four elderly people sitting on a bench… waiting… Unspoken, a short story by mairi neil