Wednesday, 27 January 2016


I do loathe January. It's just a month I know, and it's entirely illogical to link mood to the calendar, but nevertheless I find myself wallowing in a mid winter gloom that's hard to shake off.

Perthaps it's the post-celebratory comedown following the highs of Christmas and New Year. Perhaps it's the extra flab piled on beneath bulge-hiding jumpers. Or perhaps it's the weather; I don't know about you but here in Scotland I've forgotten what the sun looks like. Most probably it's a combination of all of these factors. Consequently, I haven't really been feeling myself lately. I'm not depressed but I'm definitely a little way down on the happiness index.

I think of myself as generally a happy person. I'm not always resillient but I don't take myself too seriously either. Quite honestly, I'm a bit of loon most of the time - fond of acting the fool and laughing at my own jokes! I tend to view the world in an optimistic way and focus on the nice things (my husband would say I see things in a 'naive' way and I'm drawn to 'fluffy' things!)

Stuck indoors and laid low with a bit of a flare of my illness, I watched a documentary on Netflix entitled 'Happy'. I was struck by its findings about happiness. It wasn't anything really revolutionary but it was revealing. The documentary combines real life stories from people around the world with interviews from leading scientists and psychologists. The focus on the non-material aspects of happiness was uplifting and reinforced the idea of shared human experience and a sense of community as being essential to contentment.

I particularly liked the aged Brazilian surfer who talked about the importance of physical activity and trying to 'work so that you can live your life in tranquility'. Easier said than done I'm sure but that also seemed to be another message in the film: that happiness is not an end goal. There is no defintive point to happiness but instead an ongoing experience. It's gratitude for the small things, kindness and cooperation that increase our happiness as illustrated perfectly by the rickshaw driver thankful for the tarpuline cover on his home in the Kolkatta slums. For me, the most touching part of the movie, however, was the visit to the Japanese island of Okinwawa which holds the record for the highest number of 100 year olds. I think these centanarians have much to teach us about happiness. Here's a little clip:

If you're feeling the January blues too then I'd reccomend you watch 'Happy'. It is as enjoyable to watch as the name implies. And now, although surfing is out of the question, I am going to get outside and commune with nature even if that does mean walking in the rain and admiring the mud!