Sounds like a really simple question to answer but in reality I was left a little stumped. I was asked this question over the weekend by a stranger. Well I guess a relative stranger, we had met a few hours ago whilst locked in a room trying to discover secrets and clues which would enable us to get out and win the game. Yes you'd be correct in guessing I was on a hen do.
The question arrived whilst we were all sat in the park, post escape with adrenalin and endorphins still running wild, enjoying a plastic cup of prosecco and crisps when the woman sat next to me said, "I've started making a list of the simple things that make me happy so that I remember to do them on a regular basis." Her list included basic things like: taking time over a cup of coffee and reading a book in bed on a Sunday morning --because you DON'T have to be doing something all the time-- and being outside. Things to which I happily nodded along to until she then asked me 'What makes you happy?' And for a moment I just stared in a blind panic because I was like what the f*&% makes me happy? It's similar to those god awful questions like: What's Your Favourite Book? or Film? Your mind goes a complete blank. But with the latter it didn't worry me as I have lots of favourite books you just need to give me a week to come up with them...It was the mind blank that overtook me with the former that gave cause for concern and so I mumbled something about gin and wine and changed the subject.
On reflection over the past few months I have been feeling a bit, for want of a better word, blah. Just the usual coming up to 30 years old crisis over where my life is going and whether I'm just going through the motions of living. Yes on paper I'm doing fine: good job tick, roof over my head tick, wardrobe of flowery dresses tick, lovely friends tick, happy relationship tick, great family and new little niece tick --I should point out that these are in no particular order. But in an age of competitive living I cannot help but feel like I should be doing more, achieving something unique and special and inventing something. These feelings were also not helped by a recent trip to Charles Darwin's House where I read about everything his family had achieved -- the Darwin's were married to the Wedgwoods I mean talk about a dynasty!
So the next day when I woke up with a monster hangover, false eyelashes stuck to my forehand and the question still in my mind, I decided to copy her and write down what I enjoyed and what little things made me happy.
So here's what I have so far:
- Cooking -- I genuinely love reading cookbooks, trying new recipes and inventing things of my own. I've also noticed that chefs have slowly turned into my new rockstars --if you haven't already watched the Brazilian god Alex Atala on Chef's Table I urge you to do so right away. And after thinking about it some more I also realised that Sunday afternoons have recently turned into a cooking session with my boyfriend. He has developed a taste for baking which isn't helping my bread and butter addiction or my waist line (damn Jamaican ginger cake) and I, on the other side of the table, create interesting lunches for the following week. Most recently quiche has become a favourite and next to conquer is the artichoke which might look simple but it's a little bastard of a vegetable. So cooking, dinner parties, come dine with me evenings, picnics and the odd dinner out at some new restaurant is sticking high up on the makes me happy charts.
- Reading-- simple, cheap and you can do it all by yourself and wherever the hell you like. Although I should point out I also love being read to even though it does send me to sleep very quickly.
- Walking -- most days I walk wherever I want to go I actively avoid public transport as I know this makes me and the millions of other commuters very unhappy. However as well as walking around the city I have on the odd occasion taken a short train ride with friends to visit places like the North & South Downs and Epping Forest with a picnic to do a lovely long walk. But we don't do this enough and it's not an expensive thing to do which is a positive when living in the city. So this is the main one I need to improve upon and do more of especially as on Sunday I also took the first tentative step to joining a ramblers group...
- Foreign Films -- mainly Spanish, Latin American, Italian and Dutch films. If you have Netlix I heartily recommend 'Ahora o Nunca' and that's only really if you're a fan of romantic comedies -- SPOILER ALERT part of the film is set in Britain and there's a great scene at a cheese rolling competition. However, next to my list I have written that I need to seek out more art house cinemas as this cannot just be an at-home affair with my computer and the internet.
- Tango classes -- I've written about this before and they are still so much fun that I'm now considering expanding my dance repertoire to salsa. However, the issue of happiness arises when we go to the dance socials (Milongas) around the city in various locations usually around Holborn. Whenever we have plans to go I build it up in my mind that I'm going to make a dick out of myself and I become more and more anxious until I've completely talked myself out of going or ruin it for myself when I'm there by not really wanting to dance. It's intimating because everyone else there seems to glide around like professionals. And so alongside the fact that tango makes me happy I've also written 'face your fears everyone was a beginner at one point' , because that's the truth and I need to force myself to just go and throw myself into it and ignore everyone else.
So after my initial crisis in the face of such an absurdly straightforward question I realised that I just need to get over it, wake up and enjoy the things I have that already made me happy. And perhaps one day I will invent something but for now I just need to live the life I've got and stop comparing myself to people like Charles Darwin.