Today I had a revelation. I was sat in a lovely pub in front of a roaring fire (we were too close and it was a bit hot) but I will always insist on sitting near a fire because it makes me feel happy. The food (prawn sandwich, chunky chips and cappuccino) made me feel happy. The location (the beautiful Winster valley in the Lake District) made me feel happy. The fact that my husband was sat opposite me (equally roasted by the fire) in a really bad shirt that he had found in the back of our van made me happy. My sodden, muddy socks drying by the fire made me happy. The fact that we had earned the prawn sandwich and chips by virtue of the 16 mile bike ride up some steep hills only added to the feeling of general contentment.
Are you dry-wretching at the smugness of this blog yet? I hope not, because the revelation I had whilst basking in my post exercise, fire-roasted, full-bellied glow, was that I need to embrace my happiness more, to acknowledge it and be thankful for it. So often in our hectic, pressured lives we don’t take stock of all the lovely things we have and allow ourselves the luxury of revelling in the really good moments.
Back to the pub…The people on the next table didn’t look very happy (perhaps they should have sat closer to the fire!) They ordered some swanky fresh orange juice and it came in a square glass. A bit radical I know, but the man of the group looked at it like they had been offered a turd on toast (one of my Mum’s favourite sayings). He asked his brow-beaten wife to go back and ask for a round glass. When his steak and kidney pie arrived he eyed it with the utmost suspicion and gingerly prodded it with a fork. This pub recently won “Best Pub in the North West” in the Good Pub Guide, so what he was frightened of I am not entirely sure. His wife (I am saying wife but she could have been his mother because she was impossible to age) sighed as her prawn sandwich arrived. “How am I going to be able to eat all of this?” she observed, clearly in a state of abject misery. For Christ’s sake woman, it was two slices of granary bread (artisan bread admittedly) with some prawns in it. What did she expect? I was struck by their dogged determination to not enjoy themselves. How can you not enjoy yourself in a country pub after an autumnal walk, sat next to a log fire? (Perhaps the sight of my muddy socks was distressing them). Their bad mood was incomprehensible to me.
So because I like to analyse things, I decided to analyse my happiness today. Apart from the obvious good fortune of having a day off without the kids to have a day of leisure in a lovely part of the world, there are plenty of things going on today that could have limited my happiness:
- The fact that I am suffering from a particularly nasty bout of cystitis (too much information I know but I need to set a scene)
- The fact that I almost puked halfway up a hill because I was so out of breath and a little bit weak as a result of reason number 1.
- The fact that my husband flew over the handlebars of his bike and landed in a ditch (actually this was quite funny).
- The rather annoying speed at which my husband is losing weight simply by cutting out pies and chocolate.
- The ageing process, particularly around the eye area. Why do men look better with eye crinkles than women (again not fair)?
- The fact that it has rained for months.
- Being sat next to a group of miserable walkers who don’t know a good steak and kidney pie when they see one.
Look at all this negativity. Seen from a different perspective today could have been a bit miserable but luckily for me, I was in the right frame of mind to shrug it all off and rejoice in my happiness.
When we arrived home we discovered that our son’s school had been trying to contact us because he was ill (not really ill, just trying it on a bit). Having failed to reach us on our mobiles (no signal in the Lake District idyll), they contacted my Dad who joked that the school probably hadn’t been able to reach us as, “they like to turn their phones off when they go out on a drinking session.” He’s a funny guy my Dad! Nonetheless, he picked up our not-very-poorly son and then walked our dog. That’s two more reasons for happiness in my book.
So notwithstanding water infections, minor accidents and miserable day trippers from Lancashire, today was a good day. Happiness is about perspective. My new mantra is…To not know when I am the lucky recipient of good fortune is a total waste of that good fortune*.
* This suspiciously sounds like it came out of a fortune cookie – it didn’t, I promise.