Tuesday 14 November 2017

A quick guide to happiness (sort of)

Whenever I succumb to a bit of navel-gazing, the subject is always the same. How to be happy. You'd have thought I'd got it sussed by now, but there is a wildcard element in all of this that makes 'being content' a slippery fish to pin down. Only now, with the experience of middle age, am I beginning to understand what makes my chemistry hum.

Time is elastic: re-schedule the chores!
My own compass of wellbeing swings between different points - family life in the north, perhaps, and working achievements in the south. I have long given up on my BIG career, preferring these days to plug the gap with novel-writing, blogging and freelance work. In effect, I have traded ambition for freedom and being at home with the kids.

Maintaining that fragile balance between self-fulfilment and domestic obligations has always proved tricky. One chore too many, in the dark days of winter, can tip me over into madness and self-loathing (well, not quite, but you get the drift). I watch my husband's career go from strength to strength and wonder why I'm still at home doing the laundry. On the whole, however, I know I'm content playing about with words, charging my hourly rate and catching up with the kids after school. My privilege is falling out of bed each morning and choosing how to spend my day.

As I get older, I've also learnt to take the pressure off myself. Time and sleep are the pillars of my routine. I avoid overbooking myself and I try to go to bed at a reasonable hour. But it's not easy being boring! Only yesterday, I tied myself up in knots before turning down a night-out in London with a close friend. It had the potential to push me over the edge in a week that was already packed with social events and work commitments. Experience has taught me there's only so much I can fit in before I start to lose my sunny disposition...

Be kind, is my mantra. To my family, to my friends, but also to myself. Don't get wound up about the chores and don't stress if you haven't finished that first draft of novel-number-three by Christmas. Time is short, but it's also elastic. Re-schedule if necessary. At the end, no one is going to take a checklist of everything we've achieved, or at least I hope not. Hang onto your memories and your mobility (squeeze in some Pilates) and hopefully the rest will follow.

That's my quick guide to happiness... If you've any tips, please do share them in the comments box below, or on Facebook. I'd love to hear from you!

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