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In these coronavirus days, it’s worth recalling how to be happy. I’m going out to dinner tonight, so this might be my last chance.
I’m prompted by a BBC report from 2019, which suggested five things you could do:
- Make a list of the things you are grateful for.
- Sleep more.
- Meditate, or do something which engages your full attention.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Get off social media (except this blog).
Me being happy with friends from Deep Purple – who also have some happiness secrets. My post at the link includes pix of Deep Purple in Kyiv
One thing not on the list, but contained in the piece, is that being happy requires a conscious effort. As Professor Laurie Santos says: “Being happy isn’t something that just happens, you’ve got to practice to be better at it.”
How can you practice being happier? One way is by following some of the advice in these “how to be happy” posts – some of my most popular entries:
- W Somerset Maugham on sex, turnips and the meaning of life – (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).
- Appreciating the Cloud Appreciation Society – taking note of nature.
- Austria: the best footpaths in the world? Moments of walking ecstasy.
- Sex, alcohol, people: what makes you happy? We derive pleasure from feeling that we understand the world, and can cope with it.
- Being happy: Paranoid and Bachelor Boy. Music and happiness.
By Robert Pimm
Financial Times, May 9, 2003
I’m picking up the kids from school here in Berlin when a teacher accosts me. “Started being a house-husband yet?” he says. “How do you like ironing all those shirts?”
“Pamela was never a housewife,” I say. Am I being too defensive? “And she never ironed my shirts.”
“How about the vacuum-cleaning?” He has that look in his eye. Does not compute.
“Nope. Mostly, it’s looking after the kids. And I cook.”
“Why not get an au pair? Find yourself a job?”
“The whole point is that I’m with the children. So Pamela can go back to work knowing it’s me looking after them.”
Standing there in the corridor, with kids swarming around him like ants, the teacher shakes his head. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”
In the garden in Berlin, 2003
What I’m doing is this: in October 2002 (more…)
I’m sitting on a high-speed train, next to the window, with an empty paper cup. How best can I make myself happier?
One of my most popular blogs is W. Somerset Maugham on sex, turnips and the meaning of life (links in bold italics are to other posts on this blog). In his 1938 essay The Summing Up, Maugham explores whether alcohol, sex, writing or companionship can give you fulfilment.
If you are interested in this subject, you may want to explore the links in this post.
I was thinking about happiness recently as I caught a train from London to Manchester (where my mum lives). I had treated myself to a cup of tea at Euston Station before boarding the train. Having enjoyed the tea – hot and wet – I wanted to discard the cup.
On the train to Manchester
‘These old Intercity trains usually have a bin by the doors,’ I thought. I got up, went to the end of the carriage, and, (more…)
My blog of January 2016 recorded the discovery of a handwritten list of ten rules of behaviour amongst my father’s papers, two years after his death in December 2013. The title of the list was: “How to work better”.
You can see the list itself, in my father’s handwriting, at the link above.
The rules seemed profound – or were they?
Research revealed a mystery around the words and whether they represented, as some believed, wise slogans from a Thai factory; or were actually a project by some Swiss conceptual artists.
A reader, @mrRooBKK, has brought to my attention this photograph:
How beautiful can a footpath be? Austria’s are amongst the best.
I particularly enjoy the country’s system of footpath signs. Over the past three years here I have photographed many of them. I reproduce a selection here.
You may wish to pay attention to:
- nature – many signs are worn or overgrown or both, as wind and weather reclaim them. This is usually a good thing;
- texture: the interplay between sign, tree (or rock) and background is often sublime;
- seasons: some, but not all, footpaths can be enjoyed all-year round.
Each of the following pictures represents a moment of perfection, somewhere in Austria. If you know where, feel free to comment.
This squirrel is urging people to care for nature (more…)