The sun will not make you happier, no really, it won’t…

Oh look, it’s raining again. Look, I’m used to rain. I spent 5 years living in North Wales. I don’t let it confine me to the house. But what pisses me off the very most about our complete washout summer is the lack of ability to plan anything that requires it to, you know, not be raining.

We have already had to cancel a camping trip so far. Yes, we are fair weather campers, but really, there is nothing fun about being stuck in a tent, cold and damp with two children under 5. What sort of holiday is that. Not that I consider camping a holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I really like camping, but in order for something to be described as a holiday it has to meet certain criteria.

1) a phrase book should be required. This does not count.
2) there should be some sort of extreme weather, preferably sun, but snow is also acceptable.
3) there should be a body of water involved somehow, swimming pool, lake, ocean. Puddles do not count.
4) there must be a real bed to sleep in, not shared by either of my children.

So you see camping does not meet the criteria for a holiday, but it is a break at least. And the only one we can afford. But it is impossible to plan a trip for the summer.

Also most summer activities to keep children amused involve being outside, farm parks, theme parks, play parks. This is especially true for free or very cheap activities. As it is we will be spending most of the time at the library.

I love the seasons. The fresh crunch of autumn; cold but cosy winter; the feeling of rejuvenation that spring brings; and the welcome warmth and sunshine of summer, all the more coveted because of its scarcity. But it is times like this when I wish I lived in California, or somewhere else with eternal sunshine. There is something so cheering about the sun and blue skies. Even the drive to work is significantly improved by its morning rays, with the windows down and the Isley Brothers on the stereo.

But psychologists insist that people who live in sunny places are not happier than those who don’t. They call it the hedonic adaption, the theory that everyone has a set point of happiness, and while things like lottery wins, promotions, and sunnier climes might temporarily increase our happiness, pretty soon our happiness levels return to their state pre-change. As you life circumstances improve, so do your desires and expectations.

While I get the theory, I’m dubious of its veracity. I’m fairly certain that if you took away my money worries, I had a cleaner, and a glittering career, I would in actual fact be significantly happier. I’m sure people who have fled lives lived under the threat of domestic violence, brutal dictatorships or abject poverty, are in fact actually happier

And tell me that I would not be happier here

Ayada ocean villa, maldives
Yeah, I’d be totally fed up here after a while…

than here:

Home in the rain

Reasons to be cheerful blog hop

Stupid WordPress doesn’t allow Linky Tool code so here is a link to a blog hop I have participated in. Mummy From The Heart celebrates a year of Reasons to Be Cheerful.

 

It sounds wanky, but regularly considering things that you are grateful for does seem to correlate with increased levels of happiness. You don’t even have to write them down, just taking a regular time to think about gratitudes is enough. So here are mine for today:

I am thankful for the 10 delicious minutes I had in bed while the baby napped this afternoon

I am thankful for the my morning at knitting group this morning – my fortnightly bit of heaven

I am thankful that my children are both asleep

Happy days :)

Be a little bit happier

I’m using my short crafting break to catch up on some reading. I find it hard to combine the two things I enjoy most, crochet and reading, so as I focus on one the other falls by the wayside. I’ve had to return the last few library books I borrowed unread, knowing that in the Christmas craft frenzy I would never have to time to read them.

You’ll see that my blog is noticeably lacking in New Years resolutions. I haven’t made any, which is unusual for me. I have given myself a short term goal for January though. A goal is different to a resolution. A resolution is something you resolve to keep regularly. A goal is something you aim to achieve, that eventually comes to an end.

My tentative goal for this month is to read 5 books. I’m not sure how realistic that actually is, but that is what I am aiming to do. The first book I started on Monday and finished today. It was The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin. It wasn’t an instructional book as I expected to be, more a personal memoir of the author’s year-long project to try and make herself happier by making small changes in her life.

I really identified with the author and her personality (in fact I spent the time not reading the book stalking her on Twitter!). She maintains that she is not a fundamentally unhappy person, but has a habit towards short-temper, grouchiness, and a sense that things should be better.

Rubin managed to do a lot of research on the subject. I imagine the project was a lot easier given that she is a full-time writer and the project turned into a best-selling book. I’m not sure how easy it would be with a out of the home full on job, less financial stability, and little on hand childcare.

She breaks the task of being happy into 12 themes, one for each month, and then sets concrete resolutions for each month, marking her progress off against a resolutions chart. She is very honest about the things that did and didn’t work for her, and the sceptical reactions she encountered, not least from her husband.

The activities, and the conclusion, are fairly predictable, and there is little that isn’t really common sense. But somehow the methodical way Rubin tackled the project transformed a meaningless resolution into a real exercise in self-development.

I’m totally inspired by the book and am forcing DH to read enough extracts to make him hooked too! I intend to start my own happiness project. While Rubin maintains that every project is unique, I think that because of our similarities mine will follow a similar path. One of the books she references is even on my to-read list this month. My mum bought me a old copy of Jung’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections to read. And Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness is one I picked up from the library recently which has reawakened my interest in psychology.

Finally, if you love this book like I do, you will also love ‘Help! How to become a little bit happier and get slightly more done’ by Oliver Burkeman. It’s an appraisal of the self-help movement focusing on actual things that have been proven to work to improve your life, just a little. January is a time to make changes, but big changes are unrealistic and unsustainable. It’s the little things that altogether add up to make a difference.

HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done