A few months ago, I made a decision that didn’t make me smile.
The worst part was, I knew it right away. As soon as I made it, I had that sinking feeling in my gut, but I knew I needed a change, and I resolved once I had committed to a course of action, to make the most of it and apply all my energies to making it work.
Of course it was the wrong decision. The serious reservations I had going in transpired, and it took an immediate toll on my happiness.
Luckily, I was able to extricate myself from the situation and am now in a much happier place.
Sometimes the path forward isn’t always clear. But you will always discover the right path if you make decisions that make you smile.
Those of you who know me well or who have followed this blog, know I am a dog lover. In the interests of diversity, equity and inclusion, I welcome the diverse perspective of cat people. I hope you enjoy this week’s post on cats from guest blogger and cat lover, Jill Yokoyama!
When Laurie first started writing her weekly blog I remember commenting on the name “happy act” and joking that she would have to do a “happy cat” post sometime. That day has arrived!
I have always been a “cat person” and growing up our family always had a cat or two as pets. For the last ten years, Gary & I have shared a home with our cat Yoyo. She is a run-of-the-mill brown tabby with lots of “cattitude” and one of Gary’s lines is “Careful, you can be replaced; there are 20,000 cats just like you in Hamilton…” Despite this joking threat, she has worked her way firmly into our hearts and we are endlessly amused by Yoyo.
After spending the last two years 24/7 observing Yoyo, here are some important life lessons from a cat:
Always take the opportunity for a long nap. Even if it seems like you just woke up from a nap, it’s never too early to consider another one.
Wallow in the sunshine whenever possible–close your eyes, stretch out and relax.
Spend a few minutes every day with your people, showing your love & affection for them.
Be curious about the world around you, whether it be the swirling flush of the toilet or what might be on the kitchen counter.
Take joy in small pleasures. Chase a piece of string around the house like it is your most precious treasure.
Defend yourself loudly and unreservedly when a bully comes around. Even if you are small, puff up your tail and fur and believe in your ability to take on a larger foe.
A decade ago, the United Nations held its first ever conference on happiness and established an International Happiness Day to remind us that being happy is a human right and worth celebrating.
This year the significance of International Happiness Day on March 20 and the belief that happiness is a fundamental human right is playing out on the world stage as we watch millions of Ukranians refugees and citizens who have had their happiness ripped from them overnight with every Russian rocket, bomb and artillery strike.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that made it a “fundamental human goal” to give happiness as much priority as economic opportunity. In 2015, the UN launched the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet. It also recognized the need for a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes sustainable development, poverty eradication, happiness and the well-being of all peoples.
What’s interesting in all these resolutions is there is no mention of war or conflict and its impact on happiness; the focus is solely on economic factors.
Most likely that’s because in war, there is no happiness.
As we face this global crisis, let’s find positive ways to look after ourselves and each other and adopt Happytalism.
The UN secretariat for the International Day of Happiness is calling on all 7.8 billion people and all 206 nations and territories in our global community to take the “Ten Steps to Global Happiness” challenge and call to action. You can find all ten steps here. I’ve listed my top five, with the last one being my own:
Celebrate the day. Do something special, just don’t let it pass by.
Attend a world happiness event. There are live and virtual events on almost every topic imaginable, from education, health, technology, self and work. See the full list of events here. There’s a small cost to the virtual events, but in many cases, the proceeds go to helping others, like sponsoring a teacher that is helping underserved populations.
Do what makes you happy. Happiness is about practicing self love, mindfulness, acting consciously, and with purpose and intention, positive energy and mindset, and celebrating the things you love that make you happy.
Tell everyone. Spread the word and mission of #InternationalDayOfHappiness. Post something that makes you happy on social media, write a song or letter, make a poster.
Support the people of the Ukraine. Make a donation. This CBC story lists charities you can support.
This week’s #HappyAct is to adopt and spread a more holistic, inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to the world order that promotes sustainable development, eradicates poverty and war, and focuses on the happiness and the well-being of all peoples.
This weekend, we attended a very special celebration, the 90th birthday of my father-in-law, John Swinton.
I’ve blogged about John before. He is quite the character and comes with many self-anointed titles. Master Storyteller. Grand Champion of Cards. Number One Habs Fan. I’ve been blessed to spend a lot of time with John this past year, and have been the recipient of his many wisdoms (as he would tell you). Here are words to live by, courtesy of the big guy:
On gender identity and gender neutral names “You can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.”
On entertaining a crowd “Always tell your best joke first and get them laughing, then they’ll be putty in your hands all night.”
On women “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy” (from one of his favourite characters, Red Green.)
On his hometown “I was born in Harriston because I wanted to be close to my mother.”
On marriage “Marriage is a life sentence. If I had killed your mother by now, I’d be out on parole.”
And if you’re slow getting the teapot on the table after dinner, “After 35 years, you’d think a man could get a cup of tea!”
All kidding aside, we love you John and hope you enjoy many more celebrations to come.
On life God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.
Last weekend, Clare had a hockey tournament in Barrie. It was supposed to be a fun-filled family weekend of shopping, eating out, spending time with her team and celebrating Grace’s birthday since my baby turned 19 last week.
It was probably one of our worst family weekends ever.
Clare woke up the Friday morning with a stuffy nose, claiming it was allergies. After 5-6 hours of driving, it had developed into a full-fledged head cold. She was miserable. Grace was upset because her big birthday weekend was ruined and we spent the next 24 hours in the car or hotel room yelling at each other or sulking before turning around and driving home the next day.
There was one shining moment during that wash of a weekend. After buying drive-through Wendy’s for Clare to eat in the hotel room by herself, Dave and I did take Grace out for a nice birthday dinner at Milestones. We bought her first drink: a bellini.
If you saw any of my posts on Facebook last weekend, you’d never know our weekend was such a bust. You’d see a funny video of the kids acting silly during the car ride, a picture of Grace smiling at the restaurant with her bellini, and the pathetic Santa display in the lobby of our crappy hotel that made us laugh.
That’s the beauty of Facebook, social media and our memories. Ten years from now, we may look back on those posts and only remember those happy moments, not the tears, fighting and miserable parts of the weekend.
Not a bad thing, really.
This week’s #HappyAct is to believe in the illusion. Tis the season of believing, after all, and who knows, someday, at least in our minds and memories, it may become the truth.
My horoscope yesterday said, “Do what makes you happy”. The problem is, I’m not sure what that is anymore.
Call it the pandemic blues, call it middle age (okay, I’m being kind to myself here), but I’ve found myself pondering this question the past 24 hours.
What used to make me happy was simple. My family, my beautiful lake and property, visiting with friends and neighbours, little things like the refrains of the piano drifting through the air while I sit on the back deck with a glass of wine.
These things still make me happy, but I’ll admit, it’s more subdued now.
I wish I was one of these people who found a new passion and purpose during COVID. I haven’t. I’ve fallen into the cohort known as “languishers” the term coined by the New York Times to describe those of us feeling joyless and aimless, and “slipping slowly into solitude.”
With things opening up, you’d think I’d be chomping at the bit to reach out and connect with people, but I’m not. I was talking to a friend at work the other day who felt the same way. It’s not that we have social anxiety, it’s not that we don’t miss people and would love to see them again, we just don’t have the energy.
They say one antidote to languishing is to immerse yourself in a project. But that takes energy too.
So dear readers, this week my #HappyAct is to ask you for advice. How do you figure out what makes you happy again? Please, leave a comment.
Last week, my little blog hit a milestone. I posted my 300th happy act.
Six years ago, when I decided to start this blog, I wasn’t sure where it would take me. The idea was simple: post one insight or one little act of happiness each week, and challenge my readers to join me.
Sadly, I think my blog is more relevant today than it was six years ago. I believe mental health issues in young people especially are reaching epidemic proportions in this country. When social platforms like Facebook talk about removing likes to protect people from feelings of envy and negative self-worth, it’s a sign of a major societal problem.
I’ve learned many things from this blog. I’ve learned the importance of living in the moment, and being grateful for what I have. In going back through some of my old drafts, I found this post I had written but never shared for my 100th happy act written on Thanksgiving weekend. I’d like to share it with you now.
This is my 100th blog post. I’m happy I reached this milestone on Thanksgiving weekend because it reminds me of everything in my life to be thankful for.
It also reminds me the things that make me most happy are life’s everyday moments. So for my one hundredth #HappyAct, I thought I’d recite happy moments from just one day this weekend.
Swilling German beer at my friend Karen’s Oktoberfest party
Meeting someone new
Feeling the breeze and warm sun on my face
Watching the sun shimmer on Bella and Clare in the boat
Petting my big dopey mutts
Making a Halloween scarecrow
Curling up and watching a movie with Clare
Reading the newspapers
Sitting with a glass of wine on the back deck
Buying $30 worth of candy at Bulk Barn that will last only a week
Eating caramels at 10 o’clock in the morning
Biting into a fresh, crunchy apple
Having a hot tub
Watching a red leaf dance in the air as it gently floats to the ground
Picking fresh flowers
This week’s #HappyAct is to celebrate the little moments that make life wonderful and be grateful for each and every day. Thanks for continuing on this journey with me.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from writing this blog, it’s to look for happiness in the most unusual places.
A few weeks ago, Dave and I were touring up the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia. We were off the beaten path, and found ourselves at the end of the road in Halfmoon Bay. There was a small general store and an ice cream shop, so naturally we stopped.
We bought some supplies and I stopped to read the notices on their local community board. Tucked between the flyer for the local fish fry Friday night, a business card for BigMoustacheDave.ca and wood for sale was this note:
Happiness 1. Connection makes us happy 2. Selfishness keeps us from connecting 3. Instead of seeking to benefit myself, seeking to benefit others and nature. This creates connection and happiness.
I stopped and wondered. What would possess someone to write a note about happiness, then pin it on a corkboard in the general store in Halfmoon Bay? What happened in their life that propelled them to share this wisdom? Have they found happiness? And how many people besides me have stopped to read this note?
If only happiness could be for sale. If only you could order it by the skidload, or walk up to a happiness bar like the oxygen bars in the airports and say, “I’ll take $20 worth, please”.
I came upon this sign last week on Broadway on the Beach in Myrtle. It said happiness comes in waves.
It was for some surf shop, but I thought it was very true. Happiness comes in waves. Some days the surf is calm, and you wade easily through the still waters. Other days moments of sadness or happiness wash over you like crests of a wave, all part of the normal ebb and flow of life.
When this happens, you just need to ride the wave.
My #HappyAct this week was literally riding the waves. The kids bought mini surf boards in Myrtle, so we spent the week body surfing—so much fun!
When I started this blog four years ago, I hoped I would find a community of people who would join me on a journey to explore what it means to be happy and be inspired to take action to create our own happiness, one happy act at a time.
I also knew there would be others who would never “get it” and think I’m crazy. I once had someone ask me, why do you blog about the same thing every week? Sigh.
While there is always a common thread in my posts: exploring what makes us happy, I hope dear loyal readers you have figured out that like life, happyact.ca is a smorgasbord of content. Some weeks, it is a blog for foodies or commentary on work; other weeks it’s a travelogue or a humour column.
Some weeks it’s an advice column where I’m seeking advice for a problem or issue in my life. Other weeks, I’m sharing a tiny drop of inspiration or motivation. Either way, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it and it’s helped you on your journey to be happy.
I know life gets busy and there is a good chance you may have missed some happy acts this year, so to help you overcome FOMO (fear of missing out), here is a reprise of my top ten favourite happy acts of 2018. I hope you keep reading every Sunday morning and continue on with me on this journey in 2019.