Monday, 24 August 2015
The Happy Day Project
Many years ago (at least 10 or so) it was running up to Christmas and I was in my local Asda store attempting some Christmas shopping. All three Sons were at school and unfortunately for me, a lot of other parents had taken the same opportunity to do a spot of childfree shopping…otherwise meaning that the store was packed. I required some wrapping paper and tried to get to the rack but someone was in front of me so I couldn’t quite reach across. This same person was trying to get to the Christmas cards that were in front of myself so, me being me, I said to her,
‘Shall we just swap places and then we can both get what we need?’
She smiled, agreed and all was well with the world and we went our separate ways.
What is the point of this I hear you ask? Well, that is the background, this is the reason for the post:
When I got to the bottom of the aisle a gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and said,
‘Excuse me, but I just wanted to say how polite you were about the wrapping paper. I am on holiday and where I come from, people would have just pushed others out of the way to get what they wanted and it was just so refreshing to see someone be so polite. I wanted you to know that.’
I was surprised by his small speech but it struck a chord, so much so that I still remember both the occasion and the amount of pleasure that one person, taking time out of his life to make sure that I was aware of his admiration, could make me feel.
For the last five years or so I have struggled to be truly happy. The long illness of my Mother culminating in her death in 2011 followed quickly by my Father in the same year, as well as those other struggles of being a single parent to three Sons and working full time while trying to keep a roof over all of our heads left little time or energy to be able to do much more than exist and cope. Panic attacks, stress and depression descended upon me in all their blackness and there were times when I felt that it would be easier to just stop, get off the treadmill and let everyone carry on without the burden of me. I remember sitting on a train to work and thinking that I wouldn’t get off at my stop, I would just keep going until I saw somewhere I liked that looked like it would give me a much better life. I also remember thinking that it would be a good thing to just drive my car into a wall so that I didn’t have to deal with anything anymore. Luckily, my overwhelming responsibility gene prevented me from actually doing this, seeing my kids grow up and being there for them was my saviour.
Using my own determination (and yes, some selfishness) I am now in a much better place and I put this down in part to a technique I was shown through a Facebook Group called The Good Things Jar. The premise behind it is that when something good happens, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. At the end of the year, you open the jar and read about all the good things that have happened to you in that year, things that ordinarily you would forget because you have focused so much on the negative. I will admit, I was not very good at keeping the jar, but what I did do was keep a Good Things Journal that I would write in every night before I went to sleep. Anything good that happened to me that day was entered, be it as small as the type of meeting described above or something larger, such as when I finally achieved a distinction in Advanced Creative Writing and acquired my second degree.
For the most part I am now in a much happier and more content place. The black days are far less frequent (I would never say they are gone forever) and I generally have a smile on my face and a song to sing. I also feel ready to give something back, to try to make another person smile every day for no other reason than it is a good thing to do. Therefore, I am going to ensure that I do something happy and positive every day, blogging my progress honestly here. I mainly intend for these happy things to be aimed at other people, deeds that make them happy, but I am also a realist. The fight back from depression is a long, hard and often solitary road and therefore it is just as important that I make myself happy along the way. I am hoping, that in reading my happy posts, others who are in a similar situation to myself will see that there is a way out through those tangled branches that try their best to drag you back down, stifling the brightness of the day and swallowing the sun. I hope to provide you with the axe, a hacksaw or even a pair of secateurs so you can begin the process of chopping them down and basking in the glory of a new day.
Normally, a 365 challenge would start at the beginning of a new year, but as I have ideas of further study starting in October 2016 then it seems necessary that if I am going to do this, it needs to begin before then. So, 1st September 2015 is my starting date, I hope that you will all join me.
Wish me luck and most of all smile,
Today is always a Good Day.