Tag Archives: happiness

Antidote to Happiness

I had an interesting phone call today – someone trying to sell me “old coins”.

They were actually sets of football medallions from the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, which were sold or given away in supermarkets at the time. They are virtually worthless and even with the help of eBay they are almost unsaleable. We buy them if they come in with other things and even then we try to avoid them because they clutter the place up and encourage people to bring in even more useless junk.

Like Gresham’s Law, in which bad money drives out good, a shelf of unsaleable crap seems to just grow and grow until you become a junk shop rather than a coin shop. Actually, that’s more like Topsy, but I’m trying to sound intellectual.

I apologised, even though it’s not my fault, and said that we didn’t buy them. This started an argument as the caller pointed out that we were a coin shop and these were “over 30 years old” so we had to buy them. (As I write that, I realise they are only 20 years old).

I’d been in the middle of a tricky email, using Google Translate, to an idiot on eBay, and this new idiot had interrupted me, so I’m afraid I didn’t put things as tactfully as I might have done.

I could have been less blunt in telling him we had coins that were 2,000 years old so 30 years wasn’t a selling point.

But the problem really started when I told him they were medallions not coins. He couldn’t understand the difference. And I, unfortunately, was even less tactful in my explanation of why they weren’t coins. Well, to be fair to me, I was tactful on the first and second time I tried to explain it. I was, I admit, a bit sharp on my third attempted explanation. He just couldn’t grasp the ideas that not all round flat things are coins or that I was free not to buy them.

It ended with him shouting “I’m not an effing idiot you know!” and disconnecting the call. (I have altered the language slightly.)

Of course, he was wrong in that too, because he was an idiot.

After that, I went back to the email. We have an unhappy Spanish customer but we aren’t sure why. He has now sent us two messages in Spanish and the translation websites are struggling. I can’t work out what he is actually unhappy about – it seems that I got it wrong on my first attempt but his second email is no more help. I’ve composed a message using short sentences and very simple concepts in the hope that the translator won’t garble it.

No doubt we will sort it out one way or another.

This was probably the sort of day I needed as an antidote to my recent unusual happiness.

Happiness and Haibun

 

I’ve just had a rejection letter from an editor.

My current levels of happiness are such that I have offered him my sincere thanks for his feedback and have already rewritten one of the pieces to send elsewhere later this week.

I am seriously worried about my levels of positivity.

It’s not natural, it’s not me and I know it will all end in tears. I’m wondering if I’m associating with too many Americans. What with Pollyanna and a can-do attitude you lot ought to be quarantined.

I am, of course, a little bit annoyed at the rejection because I’ve clearly sent out sub-standard work and I need to tighten up on it. Fortunately the feedback I was given made the rewrite on one of them quite easy. That will be going to an editor who has never accepted anything from me before. It is very likely to be rejected again, because I don’t think the two of us are on the same wavelength, but you never know…

I’ve actually looked back on one or two posts that mention rejection and seem to have taken it in my stride. However, there was one double rejection that I had, which did stop me in my tracks for a few weeks. I can’t find any mention of it in the blog and may have kept it to myself. That’s how you look successful – talk about the acceptances and gloss over the rejections.

 

I have had, if I remember rightly, I’ve had nine acceptances and six rejections in the 12 months since I started sending things out. It’s all written down but it’s in another room and I’m lazy. As I started off with three rejections the average isn’t looking too bad.

In some ways, acceptance is worse than rejection. Every time I’m accepted I worry about if I’ll ever manage it again, or if editors will ever realise I actually don’t have a clue about what I’m doing.

The key to a good haibun is, it seems, a good haiku, which should be the first thing you write. Well, that’s what a number of well-respected people have said on more than one occasion. It makes sense. You should not, they add, start writing haibun until you are having haiku accepted regularly by reputable journals.

If I’d known that in the beginning I’d never have written haibun. In truth, I started writing them because my haiku are rubbish and I was hoping to conceal this by hiding them in a chunk of prose.

My writing method is to write the prose and then wait, sometimes for weeks, until a thought for the haibun presents itself. If I make a half-decent attempt the editor often suggests improvements, which I immediately agree to.

It may not be the classic method but it seems to work.

 

 

Happiness

The house needs repair, summer is ending, I am old and arthritic. Politics has degenerated to infantile levels, nuclear war is just around the corner and the planet is dying.

For some reason, as detailed yesterday, I am inexplicably happy.

There is quite clearly no reason to be happy, and I don’t consider it to be normal. I prefer gloom and think that a sensible man should expect nothing from life because that is what life is likely to give him.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Botham’s Whitby – an excellent pork pie

I could probably go to the doctor for pills – there must be something I can take to calm me down a bit – though they are likely, as so often, to find something else wrong with me. I wouldn’t mind if it was something interesting but at my age it’s usually something that involves taking your trousers down.

With an interesting disease I could have a whole new career ahead of me. If you can build a modern TV career on being from Essex what could you do if you had scrofula, also known as the King’s Evil or, less interestingly, cervical tuberculous lymphadenitis. That has good historical roots, gives a chance to talk about coins and I feel less guilty making jokes about it than I do about leprosy.

Julia - looking sophisticated in Bakewell

Julia – looking sophisticated in Bakewell

Leprosy used to be a good area for humour when I was younger, as Monty Python proves, but when you read up about it and the fact that more than 50 kids a day are diagnosed with Leprosy worldwide it doesn’t seem so funny.

When you think about it, I do have a lot to be happy about.

Maybe I should look on the bright side of life.

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

I added the photos later, when WP was working properly – they are things which make me feel happy. And in case you were wondering, they are in no particular order.

More Random Titles and Happiness

I took another look at the random generator and came up with: Is there anything you regret?

The answer, of course, is “yes”.

I think I’ll leave it at that as going further into an answer is like opening a big bag of misery and reaching in right up to the elbows. Yes, I regret a lack of confidence, parenting skills, education and skill at saving. But all the wallowing in the world won’t change it, so on to the next question.

Those of you who are able to put up with bad language might like to read a bit of Larkin on the subject.

Write about how you drive (or why you don’t).

I drive less well than I did when I was in my 40s. However, I make up for that loss of quality with the increasing volume of advice I dispense to other drivers.

Write about an experience that made you very happy.

Starting on WordPress made me happy. It was a bit of a trial at first, and still can be on some days, but overall, I’m happy when I’m typing and thinking of all the interesting people out there.

I was also happy when I found the random subject generator. I was having a tough morning thinking and it has eased the burden of thinking quite nicely.

Who from your past do you wish were still around?

Actually, shelve what I just said about it making me happy. You can’t live your life looking back and thinking about what might have been.

There are dozens of family members that I’d like to have around, but I’d want them back in healthy and happy times, not how they were when they died. And that sounds a bit like the plot for a horrible sci-fi plot.

I’m not sure whether to go for another random title or not.

Write about your feet.

Yes, time to call it a day. My feet have done sterling service over the years but this is one subject too many…

 

Micawber and Me

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.” Wilkins Micawber (David Copperfield)

I suppose you can sum the philosophy up as “enough is enough”. The difference for Micawber is just a shilling. The difference for me is just a few plastic bags. Fifty bags are good, a hundred would be too many and I would start to worry about waste and storage. In general this seems to be the way. Research on lottery winners suggests that large amounts of money aren’t enough to make you happy as you adjust to having it.

That’s a great comfort to me for a number of reasons, including, I admit, envy. I can take a certain amount of pleasure from the idea that the rich aren’t happier than I am, and derive satisfaction from the knowledge that, no matter how much money I may have, this is as good as it gets (in other words, working harder would have made me richer but not happier).

Unfortunately, in my quest for knowledge, I looked up more links and found  this research . It seems that lottery winners can be happy, though this one doesn’t seem overly cheered by their million pound win. Some people are never satisfied.

A million pounds would come in handy, and I’m sure I could handle it. I certainly wouldn’t sue anyone for giving me a million. But in truth, I don’t need it, and I can do without it. This is all part of the thinking I’ve been doing whilst sitting round healing.

Obviously I’ve concluded that health is more important than money, and that Julia has a price far above rubies, as Proverbs tells us. Well, it does in the King James version, more modern versions say jewels or precious stones, which is not the same at all. Whoever used rubies (and it may well have been Shakespeare) knew how to select his words.

Whilst watching daytime TV I’ve also seen plenty of adverts for charities and learned to appreciate access to clean water, the NHS and a fridge full of food. Then there’s the electricity to run the fridge, the road to the shops and the roof over my head.

It’s amazing how much we have, what we take for granted.

To be fair, though it does provide the above lessons, I probably could give up daytime TV.

 

We may see the small Value God has for Riches, by the People he gives them to.” — Alexander Pope (1727)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees are Good for You

The sun has just broken through the clouds, bringing a welcome brightness to a wet, grey day. I’m typing and watching antiques programmes on TV after a late lunch of home made pea and mint soup. Today has been productive and pleasant and all is right with the world. The only thing that could improve my mood is an invitation to stay at Blandings Castle.

So why am I wound up to the point of homicide?

Because yet again I’ve had to go to the phone to answer a call from an overseas call centre. I’m registered with the Telephone Preference Service but unfortunately this doesn’t stop the overseas calls and we are getting one or two of those every day. We notice them more that we are at home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trees at Arnot Hill Park

As a general rule I try to be polite because the callers are only doing a job, but today I wasn’t in much of a mood for manners. I was forthright rather than rude, but I don’t suppose I improved their day. In fairness, they didn’t improve mine either.

As part of my on-going process of self-improvement I’m going to stop being irritable and start letting karma take its course. As I always told the kids, you shouldn’t let the actions of others dictate your behaviour.

From now on I’m going to stay polite and let karma sort things out. It’s just that I’d find it easier to do if I was allowed to pick karma up and hit people with it.

The trees are archive shots because if you want to be calm, trees are good for you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunset in Sherwood

Friluftsliv

That’s right – friluftsliv. It’s not a typo and I didn’t fall asleep with my head on the keyboard.  (I have, once or twice, fallen asleep with my head on the keyboard, (in case you are wondering) but the result has never been very interesting).It is a Norwegian concept, meaning “free air life”.  It’s similar to ecotherapy, nature therapy, blue sky hospital and green gym but in Norway it’s part of everyday life, while we struggle to find time to include nature in our busy lives.

I say “busy lives” but in truth how much is “busy” and how much is just just useless clutter generated by emails and texts and Twitter?

According to a 2016 UN Report, Denmark, with hygge, is the happiest country in the world, with Norway fourth. The USA comes 13th and the UK 23rd. No disrespect to American readers but we have free health care, half the suicide rate and a quarter of the murder rate: how can we be less happy? Can a lack of wilderness make so much difference?

The ironic thing from my point of view is that we’ve just spent five years pushing the idea that getting outside is good for you and despite all the evidence that supports us, we weren’t able to get the idea across.

We know that working with soil combats depression, aggression, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.

We also know that getting outside has a wide range of benefits, such as increased self-esteem, reduced anxiety and aggression, increased energy, weight loss and improved mobility.

Various researchers have shown benefits in increasing overall health, decreasing anti-social behaviour, promoting healing and slowing the progress of long-term degenerative conditions. I can’t find my list of references and I’m having trouble tracking a link for the last one, sorry about that.

The availability of outdoor space even affects the development of children – there’s even a condition attached to lack of outdoor play – Nature Deficit Disorder. Generally I’m sceptical about this sort of thing, but having seen what happens when you put a group of kids in the middle of a field I’m a convert.

Sadly, the UK is slow to learn the benefits of being outside.