Misery attracts introspection. We are also more likely to challenge miserable people, while the question “what have you got to be happy about, why don’t you look on the downside more?” is never thrown at the relentlessly cheerful. Perhaps we assume that happiness is the natural default and misery the aberration. Perhaps when we’re happy, we’re too busy being happy to ask what’s going on. Misery affords more time for reflection. The trouble with this is, not knowing why you are happy means you have less idea how to get there when it doesn’t turn up automatically.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks being consistently more cheerful and upbeat than I’ve probably ever been at any other point in my life. Why? And how do I get to spend more time here? There are a great many factors involved. I’ve been outside and walking more – this reduces stress and helps me sleep better, and when I sleep well I tend to suffer less pain. I’m crafting more, and that is a thing of joy, and I’m crafting for people I love, and that cheers me greatly. The prospect of carrying on doing more of that also cheers me. I’m spending more time out and about with people I enjoy being around, this causes happiness. I’m getting more interesting things into the mix. All of the work I’m doing feels worthwhile, but none of it is pressuring me to breaking point – I have achieved near perfect balance. The weather has not been to cold or grey. I have more time off. My bloke is less stressed and my child is overcoming challenges too. Everything is moving the right way.
Of course sooner or later something won’t work out. I’ll get ill, or something will go wrong, or a problem will arise, or I’ll misjudge something and suffer as a consequence. Such is life. I don’t imagine I have seen off depression and anxiety forever – that would seem overly optimistic. However, knowing I can get to places of being peaceful and happy, knowing I can pull out of the gloom makes it easier to deal with the rough patches. Of course life will grieve me, it will send me setbacks and break my heart from time to time. The key thing is knowing that I can get up, having some idea of how to do it and the belief that it can be done.
I don’t want much. I have the basics covered, and do not feel drawn to the accumulations of material goods that seem to be the focus of modern, western life. I can live cheaply, I do not need to work myself to death to make ends meet. What I do need is time under the sky, time with people, shared creativity, good stories, surprises, friendship, hugs, pretty things, wild things, and time to gaze out of the window. I need people who are fine with me as I am – whatever that is today, more and less upbeat, more and less physically able… acceptance. I need to be doing something worthwhile, and I have an increasing sense of how to make sure that’s the case. I have fabric offcuts to play with people to see… and of these small and simple things is sustainable happiness made.