Posted in Books, Canada, Cats, Chocolate, Family, Movies, Music, Televison, Uncategorized

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

1ahappy12Everyday in the media and social media I hear about happiness.

Happiness Projects,
Happiness Quotients,
Happiness Index,
Gross National Happiness,
polls, songs, quotes…
what’s with all the happiness?

Is wretchedness and melancholy really that out of style?

Where are the memes celebrating the drudgery of everyday life?

Where are all the T-shirts promoting doom and gloom?

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If happiness is sooooo easy why does everyone have to be constantly reminded to be happy?

When did we become so obsessed with measuring and quantifying happiness? When it became big business, that’s when. I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately so I was drawn to The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold us Well-Being by William Davies (Verso). I felt the book was overly academic, like I needed a degree in something to understand it, but it did have some fascinating, logical, brilliant, and disturbing points about how we’re being sold happiness and at what cost. Happiness is a new religion.

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But what if we’re being sold a one-size-fits-all happiness coat? It seems to insulate us against heartache, but instead, it’s drafty, the seams are fraying, and oops, it’s not waterproof. I’ve been sales-pitched happiness for years, and I’m starting to feel consumer fatigue. I’m guessing a lot of people aren’t feeling ‘the happy’ the way they’re told they should be feeling it, especially if the amount of loneliness, antidepressants, and boredom are any indication.

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I find people endlessly fascinating, though I could live to be a 1000 and still never grasp their full complexity. Maybe I don’t want to, there’s nothing more thrilling than a mystery. I’ve observed that people seem to think they have to add things and people to their life to be happier, but what if it’s quite the opposite, what if you have to remove things and people to be happier?

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I decided to start my own Happiness Savings Plan – pool then diversify my assets and lose some liabilities. I want to make sure I keep falling in love, over and over again, with my son’s laughter, books, music, clouds, chocolate, TV, movies, loved ones, conversation, kittens, dreams, puppies, laughter, hope…I’m tired of hearing about: The Kardashians, FIFA, Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn (I don’t care about the choice, I’m just sick of endless publicity-seeking), spy pigeons, wrinkled selfies (pretty much all selfies at this point actually), drought shaming, fat shaming, age shaming, sex mad marsupials…sigh, I’m feeling less happy just thinking about it all.

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So for the next 365 days my plan is to make changes, one per day, mostly removing things; perhaps it will make me happier, perhaps not, only time will tell.

I invite you, my dear readers to join, if you so wish, don’t feel like you need to, or do the same changes. And don’t worry, there won’t be endless posts about my C-C-Changes Plan, just an update here and there…

My first week is as follows:

1. Remove 15 minutes or more of internet time per day.

2. Remove 15 minutes or more of news/politics per day.

3. Remove 15 minutes or more of sitting per day.

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4. Give up one TV show.

5. Change 15 minutes of screen time into reading or listening to a book time.

6. Take 15 minutes or more to organize .

7. Learn something new each day.

It might be challenging, but as G.K. Chesterton reminded us, “There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.”

P.S. I’m going for less.

Posted in Blogs, Books, Music, Uncategorized

It’s a Nice Day to Start Again

1afrus13Have you ever had one of those days, dear readers, when you’re so frustrated with yourself you don’t know whether to: cry; give yourself a time out; scream; give yourself a hug and say you’ll do better next time; or maybe all the above and not necessarily in that order?

Too many things I try lately are thwarted, either by circumstances, or by me responding to circumstances. I keep giving myself pep talks, but I have a suspicion I’m not listening very well.

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Happiness is a choice. Apparently, this isn’t just a platitude or a wall plaque, according to researchers, happiness is really a choice (as well as a booming business). So instead of beating myself up for my utter failure today, I decided to go to a happy place and figure out how to reduce my stress.  I’m not one for magical thinking, I like to believe in goodness, happiness, etc., but the realist in me knows that any broomstick I’m handed will come with a dustpan, not a flight into the moonlight.1afrus17

Maybe today was a good day to read MeQuilibrium: 14 days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier (Harmony Books) – wait, what, 14 days?!? That’s a long time, 2 weeks, a fortnight, half a month, I need help right now! Deep breaths, remain focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.

Ok, Jan Bruce, Andrew Shatte, Ph.D. and Adam Perlman, M.D., dazzle me with your wisdom. I hope the rest of the book is better than the title, sorry, it doesn’t really thrill me, but Blogging for Books wanted an honest review in exchange for the digital copy of this book, so ready or not, here it comes.

Day 1, sure, let’s pretend that’s today. This book has a lot of logical points, including changing the way you think about a problem or situation, although most I’ve heard in the labyrinth (ok, I just spelled that correctly for the first time in my life, things are looking up) of self-help I’ve traversed in my journey to now.

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As I read about our Emotion Radar and how we scan and see situations and things, I had to squint as the light bulb over my head turned on. I went into this morning’s debacle looking through an ‘anxiety radar’, therefore, I saw things to be anxious about, then became more and more and more anxious, trapping a bunch of poor little monarchs in my stomach as my heart tried to smash through my ribcage.

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This book, while well-written and easy-to-follow is basically a giant ad for their ‘wellness’ program, but that doesn’t rule out any a-ha moments (Excuse me, I need a moment to dance to a-ha’s Take on Me, don’t be shy, join me! As I watch this video again, there’s clearly a lesson to be learned – no matter how drawn toward someone you are, it’s probably a bad idea to go into a comic book just because the cute guy winks at you and extends his penciled hand).

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Society has become busier and busier as we rush from one thing to the next to the next. We barely have time to breathe, let alone think. The answer might be to unlock our problem-solving room, go in and get calm, figure things out, before we fall into the stress traps.

As I reboot and relax listening to Duran Duran’s Save A Prayer then Billy Idol’s White Wedding (I moved on, but couldn’t quite leave that decade apparently) I realize, if I should stumble, I can catch my own fall. Perhaps I didn’t do as badly as I thought, in retrospect, I actually learned a lot from the experience.

It’s a nice day to start again.

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