Don’t Hold Back the Smiles!

As you know the byline to this blog is “How happy do I dare to be?” Today I went to see my daughter’s class perform the play ‘The Ballad of Saloman Pavey’. It was wonderful – they were all so enthusiastic and clearly having a lot of fun. On my way home I found myself wanting to smile ‘out loud’ but resisting it because I didn’t want to look kooky.

Isn’t that interesting? It made me wonder how often we do that – suppress a smile. What if we didn’t? What if we unashameably just let loose with the smiles whenever and wherever we felt like it? It made me come up with a new resolution:

I promise myself that I will no longer disallow a smile.

I just did some very quick online research into smiling and of course there are all sorts of quoted benefits – internal and external. Notably when we smile we immediately improve our energy and, externally, we are much more attractive to others. Not rocket science but something, I suspect, we forget.

Another concept I like is that of the ‘Inner Smile’. This is conjuring up the thought of a smile to soothe ourselves inwardly. Here’s a lovely guided mediatation I found that uses this:

Also try using the inner smile to direct towards someone else. I love this one and have used it quite often in the past. The idea is that you sit, (say in a doctor’s waiting room), and turn your attention to someone in the room. Without needing to look at them you can smile lovingly and inwardly towards them, sending them warmth and good feelings. It’s also really effective if you are about to meet someone who you might be conflicted about. Just approach them with an inner smile and the whole dynamic will change for the better.

Smile. Smile. Smile. You know it can only do good to you and those around you!

‘A happy life is just a string of happy moments’

A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don’t allow the happy moment, because they’re so busy trying to get a happy life.    –Abraham —

Lots of happy moments this weekend with our dear friends Karen and Gary coming to stay and Guy’s birthday to celebrate. It was a watershed moment for Julia as she made the birthday cake, start to finish, by herself. Sasha camped over night with friends and stayed up to 2am having a midnight feast. He was shattered today but was many happy moments the richer.

One such moment stood out for me today because I know it’s something that will soon disappear. Here it is, (Sasha is very camera shy but I managed to sneak this photo as we were walking along!):

Sasha – aged 10 – still takes my hand spontaneously when we go for walks and it’s just lovely to feel his tight grip in mine. A happy moment indeed.

The big-little things

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make all the difference. These rose petals from my garden smell divine and feel so soft to the touch.

Little events like these deserve celebrating – then they’re not so little. If, now, before I go to sleep, I think of all the details that made me smile today, perhaps I’ll create beautiful dreams and a good start for tomorrow – worth a go!

  • the smell of my baked bread this evening
  • Julia’s scruffy hair
  • feeling my body gliding through the water this morning at the swimming pool
  • the sound of the rain on my window pane
  • the view of the lake at Tobermory courtesy of a video call to Nancy in Canada
  • Sasha’s proud rendition of Scarborough Fair on his Viola

What big-little things were important to you today?

Night, night. (Note to self, must get to sleep earlier!)

Happiness by proxy

It’s late, I’m in bed, and all hot from having had my computer sitting on my lap for too long. I’ve heard it’s terribly bad for your sleep to spend the twilight moments before shutting your eyes getting cosy with keyboard and screen. But what’s a girl to do when her husband is away all week and Skype bends a finger and says – “Who in the world would you like to chat with tonight?”

I’ve just spent an hour and half talking with my good friend Janet in Canada. She sent me one of her latest books to look at and we had a lot of fun discussing changes and celebrating all that works so well (the vast majority of it). I love Janet’s writing. She has a way with words that I could only dream of possessing. She talks of a toad’s “elastic baritone” and an old boatshed that smells of “gasoline and dark fish and the dusty metallic of old tools”. I love it!

Another friend who I got to appreciate hugely today was Claire. Her work as a Personal Stylist is going from strength to strength at the moment and in wonderfully unexpected and delicious ways. She came around this afternoon to tell me all about it and she just glowed. I got to sit back and watch her sit on the edge of my sofa, barely drinking her tea, telling me some great news she’d just received. Her energy, enthusiasm and excitement enrobed me like a warm meditteranean breeze. (OK – my metaphors are definitely not up to Janet’s standard!)

Enjoying the Mediterranean breeze. (OK, gratuitous picture of hunk, but I saw my opportunity and I took it)

So today my uplifters have been my friends.  What a wonderful thing to witness their joy and excitement! Their passion feeds me, I realise. So I don’t always have to generate my own happiness per se, I just have to stand close enough to others who are radiating love, joy and passion and, with a spirit of gratitude, drink it all in.

Movie meditation

I was going to call today’s blog “Being Naughty” but I’ve now changed it. I wanted to write a commentary on the joys of doing something rebellious because at lunchtime today, on a whim, I decided to go and see a film – Jane Eyre. Delicious!

Having just come out and parked in this country lane, (as I wait the few spare minutes before I pick up the kids), I feel all dreamy and wonderfully fuzzy. It occurs to me that one of the reasons I’m so passionate about movies is that they have a meditative quality – especially when watched solo. I love that. It’s an immersive experience – one that utterly transports you.

The great thing about meditation is that it quietens our chattering mind and allows the good that continually wants to come towards us, to be let in.

A blank, meditative mind is perhaps the closest we get to flow – to entering the same rich stream of well-being to which all of nature belongs.

So right now I will put down my iPhone and continue to cherish this warm communion. I can see no better way  to raise my happiness threshold.

A thing of beauty

Today is one of those days when everything went according to plan – rare but beautiful!

Tennis and then coffee with a friend first thing – blissful in the sunshine; chiropractor, (good talk about how to look after my hip during my new fitness regime); great catchup with a dear friend in Canada; two client calls; great email and to-do catch-up; ferrying kids about to activities; surpisingly good stuffed pork tenderloin – my own recipe; helping kids with homework; lunch boxes done; washing up done. Ahhh – I’m good!

I was just about to say – “I better relish this because it’ll probably all go pear-shaped tomorrow” but now I’m thinking, Why? That’s my impulse to apologise for having a good day again isn’t it? (See my previous blog: ‘The non-existent marshmallow of happiness’)

Instead I will relish this good feeling of a day well-spent. I will bask in the sunshine and soak it up – just because it feels good and feeling good is me being totally aligned with my Future Self – with who I really am. And, after all, this is what this blog is all about. The happier I am – the more my Future Self and I are bound to become as one. Nice!

The non-existent marshmallow of happiness

I find it fascinating that today I find myself wanting to apologise for having had another good day.

This is what I’m talking about!

This is another good reason why I’m doing this blog. This pathological sesnse that too much happiness is something I need to blush about. It’s a bit like I think that there’s only so much happiness available to everyone. Somewhere out there, there is a big lump of fluffy-stuff called Happiness – like an enormous marshmallow perhaps – and I’ve just been caught, with a guilty look on my face  and sticky, sugary stuff stuck to my lips.

Happiness is not a thing, it’s a possibility and therefore there is NO LIMIT to it. It’s like kindness. We don’t say: “Oh you’re being so kind, you’ve taken my kindness away!” On the contrary Kindness tends to be infectious. That’s a good thing. It’s the same with Happiness. Happiness can be infectious and that helps people.

Having said that, I know that if you’re not feeling particularly happy or kind then bloody happy-clappy people and do-gooders can get right up your nose, so I’d suggest to all those feeling happy or kind to just be careful who you talk to!

And if you’re in any doubt that Happiness isn’t infectious check out this great video – I defy you not to end up with a grin from ear to ear!

Laughing quadruplet babies video

Carrots and beer

Today we went to the Westonbirt Arboretum’s Tree Fest. After a couple of hours of touring all the wonderful wood-related stalls and events, I thought about this challenge and how to make an already good day even better. What does it take? After having a pint of local ale at the beer tent I found my answer. Beer!

I’m only a social drinker (honest!) and don’t normally go in for lunch-time drinking but I have to say the warm after-glow sitting out there in the Gloucestershire sun definitely raised a big smile today.

Two other things make it to the Uplifting List today. The Camera Obscura display by Tony Willet ( and Prince Charles’ 3 varieties of carrots which we ate for supper tonight!

How it can all pivot around spotting a deer

Pleasure is spread through the earth
In stray gifts to be claimed by whoever shall find.
~William Wordsworth

It’s been a lovely day.  We made an abortive attempt at blackberry picking in the rain. The plan is to make jam so we bought a lot of sugar and then set off  to our favourite spot near Tetbury. However, the berries weren’t ready, despite the fact that the meagre bush in our garden is redolent with big juicy black ones. We’ll have to go back in a couple of weeks time.

My experiment is all about taking whatever emotion I am in and bettering it. Today was natural and smooth-flowing  – I even managed to do some research into a cottage for the New Year with my sister and to catch up with Janet, my very dear friend from Canada – but I can’t say I was being very concious about upping the energy.

What raised the day from a good day to a special day, in the end, came from a very unexpected place. On a whim I asked my son, (my football mad daughter was  busy listening to Manchester United .v. Aresenal on the radio with Guy), if he would like to go for a walk. It turned out to be magical as we spotted a doe with her 3 young in a piece of scrub land between two houses. Very unexpected, very welcome and an absolute shoe-in for the title of ‘Uplifter’ for the day.