20 little things that make me happy

Yesterday when I was sitting in bed feeling pretty unwell, I pulled out my computer and read through some older posts on my favourite blogs. One of the first I read was on Jess Ainscough’s site the Wellness Warrior titled ‘The Number One Key To Happiness’.  In the first paragraph of the post, Jess asks the reader to think of 20 things in our life that make us happy. It’s important we do this, because our thoughts are the single biggest contributor to our happiness.

Simple, right?

And it’s not a new idea. The Dalai Lama has been saying this for decades and his faith, Buddhism, has been teaching this for thousands of years. Every new age guru tells us to forgive others, relax more, appreciate and accept what we have. Our thoughts, our mindset, the way we view our life determines our happiness. That’s why I like the book A Fortunate Life by A.B Facey so much. Albert Facey was an Australian farmer who experienced so much hardship in his life and yet he never once considered himself hard done by.

When Jess told me to think of 20 things in my everyday life that give me joy, I resisted. I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to because some part of me seems to revel in negative feelings. Or maybe I was just scared. Don’t ask me why. It doesn’t make sense. I have the tools to my own happiness, I just don’t use them often enough.

But enough resistance. I will give it a go. Here are 20 things I appreciate in my life (in no particular order):

Chai: The stuff is golden. I used to drink it by the litre (almost) but then I realised that soy milk and sugar were doing my body ill so I stopped. However a few weeks ago I realised I could brew a seriously delicious chai using almond milk and rice malt syrup. One. Happy. Person.

Chickens: I have four chickens. Two ISA Browns and two bantam Pencilled Wyandottes. I’m sitting outside on our back deck and they’re milling around doing chicken-y stuff. One of them will start preening so the rest stand next to her and copy. Then one of them will get bored so they’ll all start squaking for no particular reason (they’re fed, watered, de-liced, free-ranging chooks that haven’t just layed eggs and with no predators or aggressive magpies around). Once they’re done stretching their vocal chords, they’ll jump down off the deck and start scratching in the composting leaves of our jungle-like backyard. Later they will go and have a dust bath in their favourite dirt patch in the sun. They do this all day. Every day. They’re content. And when I watch them, so am I.

Friends: As I have mentioned in a previous post, I have moved many many times in my life. And not for some sexy reason like my parent/s are diplomats so we moved countries a lot and I can now speak five languages and a Belgian Cabinet Minister is my godparent. We moved because the grass-was-always-greener/ my parent and partner’s relationship was going to work for this 24657th time when they got a fresh start in a fresh town. Moving around so much made it hard to hang onto friendships. But, a little over five years ago I moved out of home and for most of that time I’ve been living in one city, going to one university. And I love it. I have roots! I can count at least a half dozen friends who I know would be there for me no matter what. I have a whole bunch more who I think are awesome. 🙂

Family: Sometime in the last 12 months I’ve realised that I really needed to wake up and stop feeling as though I have no family support network just because my parents aren’t great at the parenting thing. Luckily, family doesn’t end with parents, and I actually have four family members I can talk to and count on, and at least two more who I reckon I could call and they would help me out. I am not alone. For this I am so very thankful.

Sunshine: Oh my goodness, sunshine. Harbinger of summer, salty beach soaked skin, dirty camping feet, dorky hats and sunscreen. Sunshine brings me so much joy!

Fresh coconut water: Not the packet stuff, straight from a baby coconut. Have you tried it? If no, you must. Immediately. Add it to your shopping list now!

Hills hoist clothes line: This may seem like a joke to you, but after more than a year without a proper clothes line, I want to kiss the thing. So ugly but so functional!

Vegie garden: Fresh mint, basil, parsley, coriander, thyme, oregano, spinach, kale, rhubarb, tomatoes and asparagus, all in transportable pots. Yum!

Yoga: In the mornings I often take my yoga mat outside on the grass and stretch. A beautiful way to start the day.

Meditation: I try to meditate for at least 10 minutes after yoga. Hands down without a doubt the best single way to reduce anxiety and increase happiness. And it’s free. Woohoo!

Cooking something new (and it tasting amazing): I try to incorporate at least one new dish into my meal plan every week. It’s super exciting to mix up what I eat especially because I derive so much pleasure from good food.

Sunday bike rides: My partner and I often go for a bike ride on Sunday afternoons when the weather is nice. Exercise, chatting with a great person, and being out in the sunshine. So much happiness.

Good comedy finds: I’m hard to please when it comes to comedians. When I do find a comedian I like, I watch all of their routines and then it’s a long time before I find someone else I can watch (think Tim Minchin, Dylan Moran). This week I stumbled across Convos with my 2-Year-Old and during some episodes I was laughing so hard I was crying. So much funny.

Fresh flowers: Having fresh cut flowers on my study desk brightens my mood when I’m feeling stuck on an assignment.

Wood stoves and open fire places: I’m not great at winter. I have Hashimotos which apparently makes me particularly vulnerable to the cold. I don’t know about that, but I do know that every year I spend approximately 4 months without any feeling in my fingers and toes. Being near a wood fire stove is an absolute blessing. There is nothing quite like the feeling of snuggling up in comfy woollens with a fire crackling near you as you read a book and drink hot tea.

Bushwalking: Australia really is one of the best places in the world for bushwalking. Not that I’m biased or anything… But whenever I get out of the city and go for a bushwalk I inevitably feel more grounded and content.

Swimming in the ocean: I think most Australians have a lot of wonderful memories associated with the beach in summer. Salt water and the waves are pretty much the best thing.

Writing: I hope one day I will have the privilege to write and get paid for it. Until then, I just love sitting down when I can and writing down my thoughts, my journey, poems and stories. I find that writing makes me calmer because I can rant about the things that I feel strongly about (many many things!) without having to bother people who may not be in the mood to chat about it.

Music: I play the flute and have mixed feelings about it. Whenever I don’t play for a while I feel guilty for not practising and I have a lot of anxiety attached to feelings of not being good enough at it. But whenever I pick up my flute and just play, it feels amazing. Jamming with others is also wonderful. And listening to musicians perform, dancing to their tunes whether live or pumping out my speakers is also pretty damn great.

Aaaaand

Books: Reading is great. No power points or battery life required. No other people required. If you have access to a library, no money required either. The best way to entertain yourself when you’re waiting for someone, on public transport, happy, sad, bored, procrastinating, sick, healthy, cold, hot, relaxed, not relaxed… you get the picture. Sitting down with a good book makes for a very happy Lins.

Phew! That took a while. It’s much harder than I thought it would be. Why don’t you give it a try? It’s a really worthwhile exercise. 🙂