Today, I will make a difference
Part 2 - Helen continues to give her list of daily tasks a proper go to 'get happy'
I’m a serious person so guffawing heartily each day was always going to be a challenge. Having a son, husband and cat makes it much easier. The other day I was horrified to hear 6 year-old son hissing ‘boobies, boobies, boobies, boobies’ under his breath at dinner. ‘Just WHAT do you think you’re saying’? I demanded, utterly shocked, and was even more horrified when he said innocently ‘what’s the problem Mammy?’. It turned out he was protesting at the choice of vegetables I’d given him and was mouthing “Boo! – peas. Boo!- peas.” under his breath. Good laugh for the day was sorted.
Exercising half and hour, three times a week seems so, so far away from me some weeks. Other weeks it feels like the bare minimum. It’s something I aim for, but do not always achieve. When I do achieve it, I have less pain, sleep better, and feel more positive. Colds get in the way. Chest infections. Weeks that sometimes merge into months with MS balance problems. I do what is needed of me and exercise is surplus to requirements. But I never give up returning to it.
I found smiling at, and saying hello to strangers very painful at first. I cringed inside each time I did it and the first time a person just ignored my ‘hello’ I felt really silly, but it became easier. For those that don’t reply I put it down to shyness on their part, or they could be mulling over something, but I let it go. It’s lovely when you meet other friendly people.
I can definitely say I’ve followed number 9 to the letter, by cutting my TV time in half, but I’m not sure they meant increase it commensurately with screen-time instead. Oh but I love the Internet, Facebook, message boards! The world available at the click of a screen. A news story excites a load of new questions to be answered, mental paths to be followed and discovered. I love Facebook and the way you can share what is going on in your friends’ lives.
Spreading kindness and doing a good turn each day was tough at first, sounding like a self-conscious exercise in showing off how wonderful you are. It is actually completely addictive and private. Let a person out ahead of you on the road, then watch them do the same to other road users. Know that you have ‘shared the love’! Give someone a small anonymous present in work; never tell. Do guerilla-gardening and plant stuff secretly in marginal unused land, scatter seeds, or make free cuttings for work-mates or friends. Bake a cake for somebody. Tell a friend of a job offer you’ve seen that might suit them. Give a partner a back-massage, or read them a story aloud. Send a friend a card or real letter in the post. Pass on unused parking passes to others when leaving a car-park. Set up a “Tiny Free Library” – Google this, it’s a lovely idea. Even when out of money, there are so many ways we can be kind to others. Make the effort, decide to take the chance on something that might seem a little silly. Put yourself out there and do it.
There are probably a few Happiness commandments I’d add in, just for those of us living with MS. Learn to recognise your limits and organise your life around these, rather than running on empty. Be kind to yourself and accept you may achieve less than you hoped for. Make no apologies; you did not ask for MS.
Happiness is the ultimate goal of so much advertising, psychoanalysis, medication, and life-coaching. Swathes of magazines are devoted to it. Shelves buckle slowly under the weight of self-help and happiness-seeking manuals. I saw an interpretation of English phrases and ‘not too bad, actually’ as an answer to ‘how are you keeping?’ really means ‘I’m happier than I’ve ever felt in my life’. I can honestly say that I’m not too bad, actually.
When you stop looking for the holy grail of 'Happiness' and try sharing what you have with others, you are more likely to achieve it yourself. MS or not, we all can do that.
Today, I will make a difference - Part 1
Making Slough Happy
How to be happy: lessons from Making Slough Happy
The Happiness Manifesto
10 Surefire ways to achieve unhappiness