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    How to unlock everyday happiness

    It’s probably one of the most Googled questions: How to unlock everyday happiness; or, how to be happy; or, how to be happier. It’s something we all crave, and perhaps don’t know that we are happy, until we suddenly turn around, look at the poo toasted sandwich that is our life, and think, “Hang on a minute…”.

    Calm down, calm down. I’m not about to give you the secret to a happy life, as much as I’d love to (mainly because it would mean that I’d know what it is). But what I am going to touch on is how to get a little bit closer to everyday happiness.

    One simple question

    Sometimes we get so caught up in life – our jobs, our homes, our family, friends, pets, cooking, cleaning, the list goes on – that we forget to ask ourselves one very simple question: What makes me happy? The problem is, this question can lead to panic attacks of existential proportions. When you ask yourselves these major questions, you stare into the abyss of nothingness – the nothingness of what could be. So I’ve rephrased this question:

    When in my life have I felt happy?

    It’s so much easier to look back and reflect. Now this question doesn’t pertain to a year, a week, or even a day. It’s about a moment. That scrapbook of memories you have in your mind where people are laughing and you feel satisfied and confident and beautiful and transcendent – they’re made up of moments. So what are those moments for you? Because it’s in those moments that you might just discover what makes you happy.

    Taking stock

    Now comes the tricky bit. If you had to carry around a Polaroid camera for the day, what would make it into the scrapbook of happiness? A surprising number of people reply with a despondent, “Nothing”.

    As terrifying as it may be, you can applaud yourself for finding that out. Many people go their whole lives without realising. And now comes the fun part – you get to discover what did make you happy, and turn it into something that does make you happy.

    Add in the happy

    Did you enjoy baking cookies with your mum as a child? Give baking another try. Did you run inside for dinner with your football under your arm, equal parts sweat and joy? Find a local club to join. Did you like to hide away in your bedroom with a pile of books and a cup of tea? Join a bookclub, add a reading nook to your home, have a go at writing one…the options are endless! You just need to listen to your inner self.

    As for me? I cannot wait for the coming weekend, when I’ll be heading off to my local ballet shop to purchase my first pair of ballet slippers in 25 years. That’s right! I did the same exercise, and realised that the performance and grace that you get from ballet class is something I truly love.

    What makes you happy?

    What’s your word for the year?

    word for the year

    New year, new you, new this, new that… It’s pretty overwhelming having to navigate your way through January. But there is one thing I do every year that helps me set a focus (for more than just the time before I lose the piece of paper with my resolutions scribbled on them). I set a word for the year.

    Why it helps

    It might seem like a small thing to do, but it really helps to focus your mind, your intentions, and your decisions for the year ahead. Think about it. If your word for the year is chocolate, you’re going to be focused on it. On eating it, drinking it, smelling it, buying it, collecting it, talking about it, taking pictures of it… In other words, wherever you go, whatever you do, your mind will be focused on one thing: chocolate.

    So while this might seem like a silly way to think about it, the same applies to more serious and less delicious words. Most importantly, the key is to focus things down to one single word that you can really make your bitch for the year.

    Choosing the right word

    It can be tricky to really pin down one word that you can live by, and draw inspiration from. So try to discover what it is you’d like to focus on in your life, but bear in mind that it should be a large scale focus. Such as, “I’d like to be kinder to people”, or “I want to be more confident”. Now you have a starting point, you can begin the search for a word that fits your mission.

    Here are some examples of words that really get the job done:

    • Power
    • Kindness
    • Energy
    • Focus
    • Connection
    • Openness
    • Strength
    • Discovery
    • Confidence
    • Communication
    • Gratitude

    The main point in choosing your word is that it should transcend one area of your life. For instance, “frugal” would only relate to money matters, but if you’re frugal with how you love your partner, that might not end well. However, “mindfulness” could be a good replacement, so that every penny you spend is done so with thought and care.

    In addition to this, your word doesn’t need to change every 1 January. In fact, I chose my word last year, and have found that I’m not yet finished with it, so I have chosen to continue with it for this year. Who knows, I might decide upon a new one by September, but for now, it still gives me what I need.

    What is your word for the year?