Happiness. I just looked it up on the thesaurus and it listed contentment, pleasure, fulfilment, approval, agreement and liking; and I am sitting here thinking: that is a few and, quite frankly, a couple would do me – for most of us, I suppose.

The thing about happiness is that it’s something most of us aspire to – think we have a right to – when, half the time, if you said to us, “What would make you happy?” we really couldn’t answer. Oh, we could say winning the lottery, being half a stone thinner, buying that £150 dress in John Lewis – oh, and finish it off with a date with Philip Glennister and we would be in seventh heaven (forget the seven rings of hell, we are talking happiness here). So here’s the thing (xx), actually losing the seven pounds in weight – although really good and, yes, it gives a bit of a glow – it doesn’t last. Buying THAT dress – well I haven’t done that yet, but I can imagine walking out of John Lewis swinging that bag. And the date with Philip Glennister? Seriously, only in my dreams; but that would be some dream…

Oh, I’ve got to stop and think about that for a minute. So it’s me in the dress that I can now fit into on a hot date with Philip Glennister… A nice little fantasy, and that is really the thing.

Most of us are not going to get what we think will make us happy. Probably just as well because, in truth, it wouldn’t work anyway.

In my little land, happiness is made up of lots of little things, and really the little things are the best. A good book, seeing the sheep in the field when I am on the train every morning, miserable Dave at work not being miserable and opening the bloody door for me when it is pouring down with rain, the man in the shop calling me “young lady”, a text from my daughter just saying “love you mum xxx”, sitting next to my lovely Bhavika at work, the man at the station walking past me and then turning round to smile at me that day (god, that was ages ago and I still smile about that), Whitney Houston wailing away in my kitchen when I am making a cake. None of those actually cost anything – okay the CD, the book, the cake ingredients and the bun from the “young lady” man” – but they are some of my little grains of happiness. And, of course, Strictly Come Dancing – but that gets me into trouble…

That to me is what happiness is, lots of little grains of sand. Imagine you are on the beach with those little grains and, if you’re really lucky, you may have some big grains: you might be happily married, you might just really love your job – you might not have either but there will be SOMETHING that makes you smile – you might not have to worry about money, you might be a size 8 and look like Jennifer Anniston (I will try to like you) and so, as we go through life, we build our sandcastles. You might have an average size sandcastle, work not too bad but home is maybe not so good or vice versa, and your circumstances might change so that sandcastle might get a bit bigger or, for some of us, now and again it might be a bit smaller – and there are always those up the beach with the supersized castle and, guess what, they are flying flags. But we won’t worry about them because that truly is the path to bitterness and misery and she might look like a model, not have to work, and be able spend £3,000 in an afternoon on designer clobber, but he might be a wife beater and horrible to live with – you never know, her castle might be all show. So we are building that, for most of us, average-sized sandcastle and doing our best to make it better and then, sometimes, on that beach there will be some waves: little ones that we see coming and can deal with; big ones that, again, we see coming and brace ourselves for, which might slightly mar our sandcastle; and then, of course, the tsunami – you didn’t see that coming and, guess what, you are flattened. The sun’s out, but you are in those shadows and you maybe think that is where you will stay. But the beach doesn’t ever run out of sand and you start, maybe ever so slowly, but you do start with the little grains of sand again and that castle will start growing.

I think that, if you expect to be permanently happy, you may be disappointed. If you think you have a right to be happy… well, think on. Material possessions might salve that ache inside for a while but they are just a sticking plaster. Happiness is really not something you can acquire, it’s how you feel, it’s what you take from life and what you give and how you deal with the waves. So try to see the grains, and build that sandcastle and hope you don’t get walloped by a tsunami and you never know…

Life is not “what it is” – it is what you have the ability to make it. Happiness comes from within, not from the shops

 

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