Tag Archives: joy

The Upsides to Unfair Truths

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Good morning, and happy Thursday to you!  I hope you are feeling very well-rested today.

I’m a very lucky girl.  Yesterday I got to spend a sunny afternoon in a kids’ playground, chatting to my lovely mates and escorting my friend’s eighteen-month-old son on his (many, many – seriously, millions of) excursions down the climbing frame slide.  Apparently, some things are not made boring by relentless repetition.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we grown ups still found utter delight in something as simple as going down a slide?

I think that one of the reasons we don’t necessarily have the same capacity for joy as a toddler in a playground is that we know something the little ones don’t: life is full of hard truths.  Here are a few of the most annoying/inconvenient/unfair, each with a little optimistic upside to help us recapture some joy:

Television Shows End
I feel very sad for the people who watch Community, which I hear was cancelled recently.  It sucks to fall in love with a show, invest in the characters, get emotionally involved with the storyline and then discover that the big, bad L.A. producers don’t agree with you.  How very dare they.  The upside here is that new shows come out all the time: when Friends ended, nobody could have predicted that something as fun as How I Met Your Mother was on its way from the same brains.  So don’t panic, Community fans: you never know what’s around the corner (of the television executives’ board room table).

Justice is Unfair
Bad people hardly ever get what’s coming to them, terrible things happen to the loveliest people, and the theoretically just concept “freedom of speech” means that the BNP Youth are allowed to upload horrible campaign messages to YouTube.  We just can’t win.  the upside to this is that our instinctive “that’s not fair” reaction leads us to have interesting debates, learn lessons from bad situations and work out which horrible people to avoid in future.

Feelings Make No Sense
You can know what you love or hate about a person – their sense of humour, their attitude, their hair style – but you can never know exactly why you feel that way about them.  We fall in love with the least suitable suitors, and we cannot bring ourselves to fancy the people with the best emotional prospects.  The upside here is that the lack of logic makes love more exciting, romantic, weird and wonderful.  Wouldn’t it be horrible (albeit slightly more convenient) if a physical trait plus a personality characteristic automatically equalled love?  We’re not robots.

Life is Short
Scratch that: time is short.  I mean, it’s Thursday already; how did that happen?!  As we get older time seems to go by faster, and our to do lists get longer instead of shorter.  We forget to text people back, we miss birthday parties and there is always at least one household task that we’re just never going to get around to.  (Mine is hoovering the stairs.  It just isn’t going to happen.)  Here is our upside: the diem is ours to carpe.  Go on that holiday, take up that hobby and tell that person how you feel about them.  Go on, I dare you.

Wasps Exist
I can’t think of an upside to this one.  Sorry.  Wasps are just mean.

Have a brilliant Thursday.  I hope that this day goes down in your personal history as Unbelievably Delicious Dinner Day.

Let’s Go on the Swings

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Hello, lovely reader.  How are you doing this morning?

Today I’d like to talk about spontaneity, which I just decided right this second.  (Not really, but that would have been so cool!)  Spontaneity in popular culture is often portrayed as one of two things: irresponsible or romantic.  Katherine Heigl jumping onto an already moving boat at the end of 27 Dresses is a good example of both.  That jump is a ridiculous thing to do in heels, but the woman had to get to James Marsden.  Fair enough.

Small children are very good at being spontaneous in their own way, because they haven’t learned “the rules” yet.  If they see something that interests them, regardless of what they were already doing, they will toddle off towards it on a determined voyage of discovery.  Nine times out of ten they will also try to grab it and/or eat it.  As teenagers we rediscover this sense of freedom in momentary decisions, but this time we call it “rebellion” because we are testing out a new set of toys: drinking, going on road trips, pulling all-nighters, driving to McDonalds at six in the morning and so on and so forth.  At the same time we are also learning to make decisions based on long-term considerations: which subjects to study, which universities to apply to, where to travel on our gap year.  We are slowly being drawn out of the world of irresponsible snap-decisions into the scary scenario of proper grown-up stuff, and although we don’t like it, we all give in eventually.

As we get older the moments of spontaneity become smaller and less consequential to the course of our lives.  That’s a massive generalisation, because obviously people of all ages can make huge, life-changing decisions on a whim, but think about it: spontaneity when I was nineteen was getting a tattoo.  Nowadays it’s going to an unfamiliar pub.

Having said that, last night some friends and I went to a pub quiz in Islington (which we came second in.  Very proud).  We were having such a great time that we decided to move on to another pub – it was St. Patrick’s Day, after all – but we got distracted by a children’s playground for several minutes.  We went on the swings, the see-saw and a weird spirally thing that none of us understood, but was pretty cool.  One or more of us may have fallen off at one point, but that’s by the by.

Childish whimsy aside, the spontaneity of doing something fun just because it’s there in front of you is a wonderful activity to rediscover, and I highly recommend it to you.  As adults spontaneity has become an expensive and/or a bad thing: that last round of drinks that you’ll regret tomorrow morning, for example.  I think it would be nice to rediscover the potential joy in spontaneity, particularly because there are ways to experience it without terrible consequences.  I mean, I’ve got a bruise on my knee from last night’s excursions, but that’s no big deal.  When I was six years old that happened all the time.

Have an amazing Tuesday.  Give me a shout if you fancy going on the swings.

All the Small Things

Good afternoon, lovely reader!  I hope you’re enjoying your weekend so far.

Today’s blog starts with some wise words from a fairly well-known American dude by the name of Abraham Lincoln: “Folks are generally about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”

I usually have very little patience with trite little sayings like that, but I am (begrudgingly) forced to admit that Abe might have a point.  Obviously there are enormous, life-defining factors that shape a person’s happiness: upbringing, career, love life and so on.  But there is a spectacular amount of joy to be taken from the tiniest things in life, and I think we should pay closer attention to them.  They might not fix all of our problems or make us wealthier/more attractive/more talented, but these tiny injections of joy can add up to generally higher happiness levels.

Here are some of my favourite examples:

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1) When the Tubes Align
There are many reasons to get cross with the London Underground, but there are also several things to love about it.  Firstly, have you ever arrived on a platform exactly as your train pulls in to the station?  It’s like you SUMMONED THE TRAIN.  Also, standing in just the right spot so that the doors open precisely in front of you.  That’s a win right there.

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2) Overheard Conversations
The sensation of overhearing a snippet of someone else’s conversation as they walk past in the opposite direction is always entertaining, because they’re out of context and you can have fun imagining how on earth the chatter went in that direction.  For example , I overheard a girl on the phone to someone the other day, and as I walked past her I heard this: “So I turn to him and go ‘no’, and he goes, ‘what about the sausages?’ and I’m like…”  I will never find out what she replied to this unfortunate chap, but imagining it amused me for several minutes afterwards.

3) Childish Food
This morning my house mate and I went to Asda and we found THIS:2014-03-01 12.34.35

Behold: the inexplicably red elixir of my childhood!  I haven’t had this for about fifteen years, and I am daintily sipping a glass of it as I type.  As an adult I shouldn’t still enjoy drinking an undoubtedly mental numbers of additives, but I do.  A lot of our childhood pleasures were simple and attainable, and there is nothing wrong with revisiting some of them as a grumpy grown up.

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4) Anthem for Doomed Youth
Speaking of nostalgia, going back and listening to those songs that you and your friends loved as teenagers is an incredibly simple way to make yourself happy, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  As you may have gathered from the title of this blog, my generation’s anthem is probably the aforementioned Blink 182 song, although other contenders include Song 2 by Blur and Last Train Home by Lost Prophets (well, this is awkward…let’s move on).

5) New Friends
Stumbling across an episode of Friends that you’ve never seen before is THE DREAM.  It’s such a tiny thing, but on some fundamental level it reminds us that there is still mystery and adventure in the world, and that even stories you think are long-since over can still surprise you.  I might be reading slightly too much into it, but the point stands that something routine – and let’s be honest, Friends has been on television non-stop for over a decade – can still bring you unexpected joy.

I hope that you’re having a deliriously happy Saturday.  If you’re not, other contenders for the top 5 list included blowing bubbles and watching popcorn pop, so give those a try.