How are you feeling today? We are really good, thanks for asking. It's really important to talk about how we're feeling – the good and the bad – as this allows us to build close connections with people who care about us, and as the old idiom goes “a problem shared is a problem halved”. A study carried out in California in 2014 found that people discussing problems with people in similar situations reduced their stress levels! Another study carried out by Harvard Medical School also found that happiness is contagious. Research shows that our relationship with others, rather that material possessions or our financial circumstances, may be what matters the most when it comes to bringing us happiness.
With this in mind, we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss International Day of Happiness, on March 20th. This year's theme is Share Happiness – focussing on the importance of relationships, kindness and helping each other.
Zoe and I help each other all the time. Everything from business arrangements to putting the kettle on, emotional support and admin jobs. Zoe and I have emotionally supported each other through all the biggest and littlest changes of our lives for coming on 17 years! From dodgy haircuts to diets and exercise, mental illness, crappy relationships, family stress and career changes – we've helped each other out the best we can. That's not to say we haven't had our disagreements; but part of being in a healthy relationship with someone is being able to admit your mistakes, apologise and move on. I think Zoe and I have cracked this pretty well now we are Grown Up (haha yeah right!) but our relationship is so solid because we share our feelings. We talk. Not just when we are unhappy but when we are happy and want to celebrate – we do it together! Whether this is a CAPSLOCK MESSAGE VIA FACEBOOK OMG or a meal out at a favourite restaurant, we've always been able to talk to each other about how we are feeling.
You may not always be able to solve a problem for someone, but being there to give them emotional support and empower them by reminding them how strong and capable they are, builds resilience and helps people overcome their darkest days. Zoe and I know all too painfully the devastation of losing someone who was unable to share their pain, and as a result we are very vocal about supporting mental health awareness and helping raise each other up. As one of the International Day of Happiness inspiring affirmations this year states: “Treat everyone kindly, including yourself”.
One of the other affirmations for International Day of Happiness is “Enjoy the little things in life”. Never underestimate the power of a good cup of tea and a slice of cake, or the majestic sight of a double rainbow, or 'catching a smile'. When my stepdaughter was younger, we used to walk her to primary school and en route we used to smile at the people we passed and see how many people would 'catch' our smiles. It was a cute game that had good results. Changing our body language can change our mood, so even when we don't always feel like smiling, it can often make us feel better to give it a go!
So what makes us happy?
“Mainly - my son. He's just endless boundless joy and love. Even when he's getting on my last nerve he can turn it around with the littlest thing – a smile or a song or playfully tickling. His 'make mummy happy' smile is the most adorable cheesy thing ever. He also knows that pyjamas, and food, make mummy happy. He's not quite sure what wine is but he knows that makes mummy happy sometimes too! I get joy from seeing others succeed and reach their personal goals. This is something I am grateful and blessed to see often in my breastfeeding support work – women often struggle to continue to breastfeed but once they find the support they need, they often smash their goals and are unbelievably proud of their achievements, as am I. It's an amazing thing to overcome adversity and fight your way through something you struggle with. I also love the joy I get from hula hooping, listening to my favourite music, taking a long hot bubble bath, reading a good book or settling down under a blanket to watch a good film. Seeing my friends and spending time with people I care about makes me feel happy too. I am grateful for the love and kindness my friends have shown me over the years. I know when I am struggling there are people who will support me without any judgement.”
“My work. My friends. Music and films. Since leaving my full time job 4 years ago, work has become my life. I am very passionate about it. I've only just recently learnt to take time away from it and enjoy the little things in life that make me happy, like spending time with friends, watching my favourite films, listening to music or going to a live gig. I sadly lost my uncle to suicide 18 months ago, and it has really given me the kick up the arse I needed to remind me that to enjoy the small things and not take thing for granted.”
We often meet customers who are overjoyed at finding something in the shop that they really love or have been waiting to buy for awhile – the Harry Potter 'backpack buddies' have made us all happy recently, as they are all a mystery until you purchase one and open it to reveal the character within! It's wonderful to see how happy it makes our customers when they find the character they love or have been hoping for, inside the pack.
The same can be said for our wedding and design customers. Their joy when they see their designs come to life is phenomenal. We love being a part of creating that happiness and helping make memories that last a lifetime.
This years 'Action for Happiness'* offers ten keys to happier living – the 'Great Dream'
G iving (do things for others)
R elating (connect with people)
E xercising (take care of your body)
A wareness (live life mindfully)
T rying out (keep learning new things)
D irection (have goals to look forward to)
R esilience (find ways to bounce back)
E motions (look for what's good)
A cceptance (be comfortable with who you are)
M eaning (be part of something bigger)
So what little things make you happy? What do you do for others that makes you happy? Do you have any top tips for being resilient or being comfortable with who you are? Please leave us a comment and tell us – we'd love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful happy day!
Lots of love,