Thank you to everyone who participated in my happiness giveaway competition. The 13 people who shared some of their happiness tips did so with such enthusiasm, generosity, wit and compassion that every message I read was like a warm hug. I've been inspired and delighted by your contributions, and I hope you don't hold back on sending more tips just because this competition is finished.
In time honoured tradition I put all the names in my green sunhat and asked my housemate to take his attention from the cricket for a few seconds to pull out the winner's name. Jane from Dunedin won the box of handmade goodies, which is lovely as she has been one of Bibliphilia's most loyal and interactive readers since I began. Also when I told her the news, she was languishing on the sofa with the 'flu, so seemed greatly cheered by her win.
If you want to read the original (entertaining) competition entries, go here, but for quick reference I have summarised the happiness tips of Bibliophilia readers along with some of my own into a a handy list to print out and keep by the phone. As a policy analyst by profession, I am well aware of the hazards of lumping together people's comments under general headings. I trust a lively debate will ensue in the comments section challenging my controversial taxonomy of happiness.
Since this blog is called Bibliophilia, you will not be surprised to see how often books appear as sources of happiness, whether reading them, making them or writing them.
Sensual pleasures and escapism
- A cup of tea and a lie down. Especially with biscuits. And a good book/escapist fiction. Couch and loads of comfy pillows.
- Selective TV watching eg old re-runs of Seinfeld, a cheesy Sci-fi DVD or watching my faaavourite TV shows with a bestie - it's the highlight of our week and we spend days anticipating it, and then analysing the episode later!!
- Music from your past eg an old compilation tape you made years ago and be hit with nostalgia as the songs take you back in time... or opening iTunes and finding a band I used to love listening to when I was younger and turning it up LOUD
- Having a bath. A long, deep, hot bath, taking a book with me so I can remember to drop it just outside the bath before I fall asleep.
- Finding the perfect shoes in your size on sale in a recycled clothing store!
- Getting or giving a soothing foot or neck massage
- Exercise: Swimming laps in any body of water, yoga, tai chi qi gong, bicycling, walking
- Food: cooking/sharing/eating fresh food; baking treats
- Singing: alone or in a group
- Friends: I really can't overstate the happiness quotient of spending time with friends, eg, Sunday morning a big lazy big pancake cookup with friends. Yummalicious!!
- A walk in the woods. Taking the dogs along is an even better idea.
- Children eg giving my daughter a hug and a kiss, blowing bubbles with my daughter, playing cricket with my son. We take a bat, a ball and (if we're feeling really energetic) a set of stumps to a nearby field and take turns batting and bowling, to an audience of appreciative tui and the occasional jogger. (One brave soul wrote 'anything with children' but I wonder if she's had a two year old tantrum in the supermarket lately).
- Giving gifts eg spontaneous present giving; buy a lotto ticket at the checkout of the supermarket then give it to the person behind you as you leave and watch their look of shock as you say Good Luck; taking a cup of tea and a biscuit to whoever you live with; sending surprise packages through the mail.
- Being "in the moment" in a beautiful spot eg the rock garden seats in the Botanic Garden, listening to Blues Music on a sunny, summery afternoon, eating a picnic lunch, getting out to the beach or forest or anything not a city. The ocean. Being in it, being on it, looking at it, being near it. It's all good. Walking up a hill and finding a good "happy place" to sit, play, and realise how beautiful it is here and how lucky I am to live here. Taking a walk someplace quiet and pretty. Twilight.
- Laugher, play and silliness eg playing silly games at circus, like the ones you played in primary school. Get a bunch of friends together and play hug tiggy in the park. Promise you'll feel happy
- Hugs: eg a loving, reassuring hug (usually from partner), or hugging my household cat. Best blood pressure reducer EVER. Also see 'Children' and 'Laughter' above.
- Writing. Those times when I can concentrate on writing, without any distractions - they don't happen as often as I want, but I love them when they do happen.
- Creating. A project allows one to exist in the moment away from all ones cares. When you finally arise from the project to exist in the world again, things probably haven't gotten any better, but here is this awesome thing that you made!
- Starting a new stitching project - although this does mean I have more started projects than finished ones...
- Being inspired to paint and having it turn out well
- Reflection. It can take the form of journal keeping, photography, a long chat, or (for me) workbooking and blogging. It allows a purge if that's what needed, and a revisiting of ones past successes, and a reaffirmation of why you do what you do.
- NTS book (Note to Self). On a fresh page each time, I write a compliment someone might have given me - in quote marks with the persons name and date under it, or it might be a line from a song that is uplifting or has meaning to you right now, writing a personal best. The trick is not to dwell on any entries, in fact, forget about them until your Self needs some loving and reassurance, then you get to open just one page to see what you have to share with your Self.
- Creating order eg making a list; rearrange your house, it's such a treat to see everything in a new place, it's like you're seeing it for the first time again...
- Learning something new whether reading or watching new information or theories or trying to make or fix something with my hands (very rarely does learning new computer software make me happy though).
My new friend, Winnie, poses on top of Jane's prize parcel (packed into the same box that Winnie arrived in). Look out for Winnie's story in my next post.