(Practical Ways) to Be Happy.

Last week I wrote a post on how to be happy. It was a very cognitive approach to happiness and suggested that happiness is largely about shifting our thinking. Sometimes it is difficult to get in the right mindset, therefore I’d like to write a post on the physical and more practical steps you can take to become happier when you are feeling down.

Write.

I find that writing is very therapeutic. It is like talking and confiding in a close friend, only that you do not have to hold back. You can write about your darkness secrets and (if you’re afraid of someone finding it) burn it. I always believe that by expressing how we are feeling we are acknowledging it and therefore accepting it. This is the first step towards solving a problem or discovering why or what is making you unhappy. Once you are aware of the root then you can work towards solving it.

Furthermore, writing is a good way of documenting your thoughts and turning your sadness into something ‘useful’, or even beautiful. I know sadness should not be romanticised but sometimes I find myself reading over a poem I’ve written when I was sad and thought, I couldn’t write like that when I’m happy. So write – and you’ll find, it changes your sadness in a way, it makes you see your sadness in a different light.

Make a list of the little things. 

Again, similar to writing but this time you should focus on expressing the good things in your life, the little things you appreciate. Whether it be a musician playing the harp in the underground or the late night conversations you have with a close friend, that A you got on an assignment to the delicious meal you cooked last night, how the sky looks at 5pm or how warm your bed is when it is raining outside… the little things that makes life enjoyable is endless. When you really can’t think of anything, remember to be grateful for the people you have in your life, the body that allows you to live, your health, the roof over your head, food on plate or even this computer screen in front of you. There is always something to be grateful for even on the bad days. There is a quote that I like to remind myself of on bad days: no everyday is a good day, but there is something good in everyday.

Get out of the house. Do stuff.

I would say go for a walk (or better yet exercise) but I understand that I have little motivation to go for a run even when I’m happy, so asking me to exercise when I am feeling low is unrealistic. The point is to get moving. Lying around the house all day is not good for your health (both mentally and physically) even if it is what we are inclined to do when we feel down. It is fine to have a lazy day where you mope about from time to time but then remember that a world exists outside your bedroom. There are people to talk to, places to walkthrough and new experiences to be experienced!

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When you are doing nothing because you feel there is nothing to do then it can become a cycle which becomes difficult to break. You feel sluggish therefore you don’t want to do anything, and vice versa. Break the cycle by getting up and getting dressed and stepping outside of the house (and also yourself).

Go window-shopping (or spend time doing a favourite hobby).

This kind of ties in with my last point, do something that makes you happy and makes you appreciate that you are alive. I like to go window-shopping and try on all the pretty clothes even if I don’t have the intention (or funds) to buy them but I still enjoy the sensation of it. If you have a particular hobby you life, like knitting, baking, reading, playing music, singing, dancing or a sport then do that. Not only will it take your mind of your sadness but it’ll make you appreciate that there are still things that make you happy simply because you enjoy doing them. Better yet, do something completely pointless with the only point being that you enjoy doing it.

Spend time with a loved one.

A love one does not necessarily mean a boy/girlfriend but your mum or dad, grandma or grandpa, your cousin, a close friend, a new friend, a dog or cat or even your parrot (if you have one). As important as it is to recharge your happiness in yourself, you shouldn’t forget that there are people who love and care about you. Talk to people because it is fun to talk to people but also listen to them, for there is a lot that you can learn. It was a while ago but I recall from psychology class that when we talk to people and form bonds, our brain releases oxytocin and it makes us happy. So spend time with your loved ones.

Do something for others.

I am aware that my advice has been quite cliche and preachy so far, and this one is probably the most cliche of all but it is true. Nothing compares to the happiness that you feel when you see someone you care about is happy. I feel we are born quite selfish (children are pretty selfish to be honest) and it was not until later on did I really understand the meaning of being happy from another person’s happiness. The first time I really felt this (a deep intense happiness) was when I took my mum out for a dinner on her birthday last year. I surprised her with flowers and a Pandora charm and cake (in which I’d lost the candles for). I was so happy that she was happy.

You don’t have to go out and volunteer at a shelter or donate a ton of money to a charity (although these are amazing things to do) when I say do something for others. It can be as simple as baking a batch of brownies for your flatmates, or smiling at a stranger walking by.

 

Let me know in the comments if you do any of these tips, and what other things you do to be happy.

 

 

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How to Be Happy.

Happiness is something I struggle with. When I am sad I long to be happy but when I am happy, I dread that something awful will happen to ruin my happiness and make me sad again. It is easy to be sad, anyone can be sad. It takes a lot to be happy. Sadness is a safety-net, a comforting space in which I know I am ‘safe’. Other times, happiness makes me guilty – for I often I think what did I do to deserve such happiness? But when I think of my friends, family, a child on a playground… I think, of course everyone deserves to be happy – happiness does not need to be earned.

Because I am sad a lot, I am by no means an expert on happiness but through my being sad, I have learned a few things from my sadness. The first thing is to accept that is it is unrealistic to be happy 24/7. Life has its up’s and down’s and happiness is all the happier because of it. False-positivity is no way to live.

Another (probably the most important) thing about happiness is that happiness is a choice. I don’t mean in the sense that you can wake up one day and choose to be happy. You have to work on being happy. But the first thing you must decide is that you want to be happy. That you will try to be happy. Like I mentioned earlier, it is tempting to stay in our sadness – it protects us from the world, people who might hurt us, uncomfortable situations… but it also prevents us from all the great opportunities that are out there. Sadness isolates you, even if it is not physically. It mentally isolates, it makes you think: it is you against the world, when the only thing against you is yourself. The first step to happiness is opening up to being vulnerable again. For one needs vulnerability to trust, love, and be loved.

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With this being said, you have to realise that your happiness should never rely on anyone. People can make you happy, but the person who can make you most happy of all should be yourself. This is why self-care is not selfish. Loving yourself is not selfish. It is true that if you want to love anyone, you must love yourself first. If you cannot take care of yourself then how can you of another person? Therefore, pamper yourself. Indulge yourself in the things you love: good food, shopping, warm baths, a childhood hobby. Do what makes your heart sing, even in the midst of your busy life. If you like baking, bake. It is vital that you make time for you too, it is important that you learn that you are not lonely but can be happy even when alone.

Your me time gives you time to reflect and draw things together again, try to be in the moment. Often my happiness is disrupted by my regret for the past or desire for it, and other times, my anxiety of the future. I find if there is one ‘secret’ to happiness, it is to live in the present. Think of children, they do not fret about the small things. Audrey Hepburn once said that she’d heard that ‘Happiness is good health and a bad memory’. So be like children, forget easily and don’t worry about what you are going to eat next Monday night.

The past is beautiful because we romanticise it. We remember our ex’s lovelier than they were, our best friend funnier, our childhood self happier than our older self. We need to be grateful for the things and people we have now. Of course, no person or time can replace the past ones, but that is not to say that the currents ones are not as happy. They are just happy in a different way. As for the future, it can be a little trickier. Especially in this fast moving time and age, it is always go, go go! and when we do find time to ‘relax’, we are left worrying that we should be making better use of our time. Which brings me back to the importance of living in the moment.

When things are too much, I sometimes find myself thinking, I have so much to do – poor me! I feel I am losing my way. It is in these moments that we should sit back and appreciate that it is in fact a good thing that we have a way to lose at all. It is better to have things to do than to have nothing at all. The best way to not outrun and worry yourself is to keep organised. Make a plan and list all the things you have to do – often you will find that, with it written down, it is not as vast and intimating as it is in your head. And stick to that plan, don’t over-do it and once you’ve said that a project is done, it is done. Set it aside, let it go, and let it be.

Therefore, perhaps the key to happiness is to have faith. Have faith that when things are sad, they will be happy again. Faith that you are exactly where you’re meant to be. Believe in faith, even if with is something illogical, uncertain, even scary, for it is still something beautiful at the same time, just like happiness.

I’d like to know in the comments what are the little things that make you happy.

My flatmate’s dream is to own a country.

I was having a late-night conversation with my flatmate the other night, and he told me how he wants to be ‘rich’. Not to generalise, but that’s what most guys say when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up: rich. To make lots and lots of money seems like a vain and unfulfilling life goal but there was more to it. He wanted to make seven trillion pounds so that he could have his own country which would have hospitals, a 24/7 district with shopping malls and clubs that never close, on top of that he wanted to give all his friends a house (which all include a swimming pool) each. What I thought was a selfish, bizarre and quite silly life goal turned out to be something quite inspirational. When he asked me what I wanted to be, I said: a successful writer (which seems completely mundane and unambitious next to his crazy dream) he then asked me: why not the best writer in the world? I told him, because that’s unrealistic, and he said I’d achieve way more if I aimed for that than to be any everyday writer as, if he aimed to make seven trillion and own his own country, he would achieve loads just from getting halfway there.

Then having a dream to own a country didn’t seem so unrealistic and childish anymore. It made perfect sense.

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When we are growing up, we get asked all the time: ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ And children have no trouble in telling their teachers, they want to be a doctor, nurse, vet, lawyer, businessman/woman, policeman/woman, firefighter etc. yet I know twenty year olds who have no idea what they want to do. I don’t believe it’s because they’re unambitious, it’s just because they’ve been taught that there are things they cannot do, they’ve learnt to be rational about things.

As a kid, I’ve wanted to be almost all the typical occupations under the sun. I wanted to be a doctor but then I discovered my fear of blood and dislike for gory stuff. I wanted to be a vet but again, I cannot stand open wounds. I wanted to be a professional ballerina, but I outgrew ballet. I wanted to be an actor but I can’t act to save my life. I wanted to be a painter, yet I am too impatient. That’s when I discovered that I wanted to be a writer: as cliche as it sounds, I love that I could ‘paint’ an image in someone’s mind with just a few words in seconds (instead of spending ages in front of an easel). I wanted to be so many things yet I didn’t pursue them because something got in the way to make it inconvenient. But I’ve realised nothing is convenient – when you want to do something enough, you do it. Time is never an excuse. You make time just like you make excuses. And the only way to stop making excuses is to have a complete, bursting passion for what you want to do. And I feel, I am so lucky to have found it.

Yet I am still stuck with a problem of not having enough ambition. Not in the sense that I want to lie around the house all day and never do anything. I do what I have to do. Just that, I still cannot bring myself to follow my wildest dreams because to me, they still seem unreasonable.

What I would deem a practical dream: to be a successful writer with a flat in London and a dalmatian.

What I deem as an impractical dream: to be a number-one best selling author, own an apartment walking-distance from Regent’s Park and have seven dogs (including a dalmatian and teacup poodle).

Still. What I deem is an impractical dream still seems practical next to my flatmate’s dream. I wish to rekindle that childlike mindset within myself that anything and everything is practical. I suppose it is more difficult for me, as I have always been quite a practical kid (which sounds like an oxymoron, because why should a kid be practical?) and my most impossible dreams have been to be a mermaid or a princess with her own castle.

But really, I’d love to be able to make a living off of the prose and poetry I write – but more so, to be read in universities and even more so, to be taught in schools where most students groan at the thought of having to read me except for that one kid who is glad they didn’t die before they’ve read me, that words do understand, that what they have to say matters, that they too can inspire because they too can dream, and that they too want to be (and could be) the best writer in the world.

 

I believe rekindling this childhood silliness and dreaming the ‘impossible’ is something we can all work on. Tell me in the comments what you would consider a practical dream and what is your ‘impossible’ dream you want to achieve if you could achieve anything and everything (you might find that it is harder than it seems).

F*ck-boys and Where to Find Them.

Short answer: online ‘dating’ a.k.a Tinder.

I have to admit, I’ve had my fair share of tinder dates, the majority of which I never go back for a second date. Tinder is a strange thing (I am not quite sure what to label it; it is a place, a platform, an internet club?). Many of us are guilty of it (I don’t mean to say that having a tinder profile is something to be ashamed of but there is no denying that it comes with a certain discomfort; imagine having to tell your parents that you met your partner on tinder). There is a taboo to it. I don’t think it is necessarily because of the app itself but because it takes this concept of ‘dating’ (ultimately resulting in love and commitment) and turns it into something you can swipe, match or un-match without even having to bat your eyes. Bottom line is, tinder is quick and easy. And as the saying goes: easy come, easy go.

About a month ago, I saw a video on Facebook by a motivational speaker who was talking about the impatience of our generation. We can get almost anything online these days. We don’t even have to leave our beds. There is an app for almost everything and anything, even a person to call a ‘date’. We want a date, we swipe on tinder. Then the speaker brought up at point that hit me hard. Most of us (I hope) desire love and commitment, but there is no app for that. You cannot demand love and commitment, right here and right now. The only thing that brings those two things about is time.

Which brings me back to the point that tinder is easy. It is quick and easy to get a date (especially if you are a girl). Tinder requires no commitment (it doesn’t even post to your Facebook page). A rejection on there is not really a rejection. You can say whatever you want and there are no consequences. The perfect place and combination for f*ck-boys to roam.

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Of course tinder is not all bad. Nothing is ever good or bad. And yes, a person you meet on tinder is no less of a person just because you’ve met them on tinder (even though some people tend to forget that). I have had quite memorable times and meaningful conversations with guys I’ve met on there. Something quite serious even at one point. But how can anyone take tinder seriously? You can take it seriously but when you’re crying over your tinder-guy and friends are consoling you, they’ll still have it in the back of their minds: ‘what did you expect, it’s tinder?’ So if you’re looking for a meaningful and fulfilling relationship that will last a lifetime, I recommend that you delete that devilish app once and for all.

I know that is much to ask. A girl once said, tinder is like crack. Who doesn’t like having numbers (matches) to add to their self-esteem. We all like to be liked. Until we like, genuinely like someone and they break our heart. We swear off online dating, delete the app(s), mope around the house for a while and become okay again. Yet we never learn. A few months (or even weeks down the line) that red flame is back on our screens. When I say get rid of it, I really mean, get. rid. of. it. Enough is enough. Don’t learn the hard way (or maybe you have to) to realise that you’re more likely to find the love of your life walking down the road then swiping all night on tinder.

I don’t think there’s a definite definition for a f*ck-boy. A f*ck-boy will be defined differently to everyone depending on their experiences. But I dare say, a f*ck-boy doesn’t do just that, worse is, he f*cks with your feelings and that’s not okay. And they’re called  ‘boy’ for a reason, because often they are not man enough to owe up to their actions. He will not give you a reason to why he decided to ghost you the day after he’d asked you how many dogs you wanted the night before. If he were a man, he’d be off tinder and finding you in real life. Tinder is not real life. It is a game (harsh as it is). Perhaps not to you but (9/10 times) to him. Stop playing the game. Stop looking for love because love isn’t a match. It isn’t an algorithm of some app on your smartphone, calculated by how far they live from you. Go out and see the world, the love of your life may be further than 10miles.

And if you’re still sad about that f*ck-boy, I’d say: f*ck him (and no, not literally).

Fat is a feeling.

I feel I am a pretty open person. I am comfortable in talking about things that bother me with my close friends and family, however one thing which I like to avoid is the subject of my weight. Apart from the occasional personal complaint that I am ‘fat’, I like to sweep the weight-issue under the rug, and if anyone else were to bring it up then I get very uncomfortable and often offended. I know I am by no means ‘fat’ in the clinical sense. However I am ‘fat’ in my mind, which translates to me that I weigh more than I wish to.

I know it is a touchy subject to a lot of people; it is a touchy subject in general. Nevertheless I am not going to sugarcoat my opinions on this matter (and they are just that, my opinion and you are free to have a different opinion from me). One thing I do believe is that if one is happy with their weight and is comfortable in their body, then there is nothing wrong with being whatever size they are. Like they say: you do you. I am writing from the perspective of a person whose aspiration is to have the body that most magazines portray, or what is shown in the media as the ‘ideal body’.

Unlike many articles on weight, I am not going to blame the media for portraying an unrealistic body-image as I believe it is achievable if one has the determination to achieve it (not the photoshop images of course). Celebrities are just people with normal bodies too. We all know how to lose weight and be in shape, there is no secret: move and eat right. I consider my aspiration to be ‘unrealistically’ thin as self-care, it is a self-indulgence and pampering that I do for me. I enjoy watching what I eat and knowing how much I weigh. I feel more confident in myself and enjoy being able to buy clothes online and knowing it will fit. The issue is, I feel in today’s society this attitude is frown upon because it is considered an ‘unachievable’ goal and is shaming other body types. Still, I am not ashamed of it, and why should I be if we all preach that that one’s ideal body is the one we’re happy in? If I am not entirely happy with my current body right now, then I have the right to change it.

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What the media tells us is a contradiction anyway. There are tumblr. posts that tell us to embrace ourselves (never change) and magazine articles with the latest fad diet and elsewhere on Instagram, an ad for detox-tea. And not to mention pop-songs and celebrities attacking each other because one weighs more/less. The media may be telling us what to wear and how to look but you do not have to follow it. The point is, how you look and want to look is always your choice. Consider my weight a form of self-expression, like dressing a certain way or how I style my hair. Some may say that the fact that I aspire to be thin is influenced by the media and it may be so but I am saying it is my choice and I embrace it; I am content with not being content with my body right now.

Fat is a feeling because at the end of the day, it is just a word. When I say: ‘I feel fat’ I am not saying anyone else who weighs more than me is fat. Just like one may call an attractive person hot/cute/fit, the word one uses to describe their subjectivity is subjective and personal to that person. Perhaps I should be more careful with my words, but ‘fat’ to me is just a word I use to express dissatisfaction in my own appearance and it is my own feeling.

[Please do not confuse and mix this with eating disorders, which I am by no means disregarding. There is a certain point that controlling what you eat gets out of hand and one should seek help. This post is just on the scrutinization of people wanting to look a certain way and other people disapproving of it.]

Things I Wear in the Shower.

The title is a little misleading (another idea I had was, ‘Things I Wear in Bed’) but click-bait, right? This post is actually about jewellery. It’s inspired by Marzia’s post, which I came across a few weeks ago, where she writes about the jewellery she never takes off and their significance.

I’ve never been a big fan of jewellery until very recently. I suppose it is an age thing. I never understood the point of having a bunch of jewellery which are just an inconvenience to take off and put on again, so I never wore any (apart from a few earrings that I’ll discuss later). However I’ve always liked things with meaning, and I’ve realised that jewellery (like a tattoo or a souvenir) can hold a lot of meaning.

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I have four ear piercings. Three on my right earlobe and one on my left earlobe. I remember having to re-do my earrings several times at the beginning of primary school because we always had to take them off during swimming lessons and they never healed properly. So after the third try, I just gave up. I got them redone in the summer of year 8 with my best friend at the time. We each got a piercing on each side and then another piercing above (she got hers on her left ear and I got mine on my right). After we grew apart, I could never bring myself to get more piercings until the summer of last year (2016). I got the third piercing on my right ear. Now I no longer have a half pair earring lying around the house.

The pearl earrings I’ve worn for almost five years now, were given to me by my mum on my fifteenth birthday. I liked (and still like) anything ‘retro’ looking, and I think pearls are timeless and add a classic touch to anything. The only time I take these off is during Christmas when I wear some fancy Christmas earrings that a close friend has given me a few years ago (it’s been a tradition to wear them every year since).

The ‘diamond’ earrings which are above the pearl were also a gift from my mum. It is funny because I remember saying to her and my dad when I was younger how I’d rather wear flowers in my hair than diamonds on my neck (it was something I’d seen on tumblr. and I thought it so-cool during the time). However during a special dinner occasion in summer last year, I told her how much I’ve been wanting diamond earrings and whether I could have them for my birthday. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I got very sick the following month. After I got out of the hospital, she came home with a pair of the cutest earrings.

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I always wear a watch when I am out. My current watch I’ve had for just over three years. It is a small, simple black Swatch with roman numerals. Nevertheless I don’t wear that at home all the time. What I keep on all the time are two bracelets, which I’ve bought for myself at the beginning of this year. Both are from Etsy. They are both very tiny, I am a big fan of dainty jewellery so I am in love with them.

I was debating whether to get a normal heart-shape one or a heartbeat one. I consulted a friend and we both decided that the heartbeat would be more unique. Additionally, whenever I see a heartbeat symbol it reminds me of Sylvia Plath’s quote: ‘I listened to the to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.’ She is my favourite writer.

The crystal teardrop is a blue topaz, which is December’s birthstone (I was born in mid-December). It is no secret that stones are said to hold special meaning and healing powers. The Blue topaz is said to inspire creativity, stimulate one’s mind, help in making decisions, regulate mood, and aid in sleep along with having other benefits. Whether it really is magical or not is up to you to believe – I’d still say it’s something special nonetheless.

Apart from these jewellery, I like wearing chokers and some necklaces that family/friends have given me as gifts.

And that’s all I wear in the shower for now.

The Importance of Being a Friend.

I owe a lot to my friends. Not in the same sense that I owe a lot to my parents. My friends did not give me ‘life’ or a roof over my head, but often my friends have given me a home to run to when my actual home is far away or I feel there is no home to turn to.

There’s a quote that goes: friends are the family we choose. But often, friends are the ones who choose us. They are the people who choose to stay. Unlike our family who have a ‘obligation’ to stick with us through thick and thin, true friends stay despite having every right to leave.

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My philosophy on why people choose to have children is because they wish to fulfil a desire for a ‘family’. However, is that not a selfish want? The want to want a person in order to fulfil their status or complete their happiness. I’ve once had a conversation with a friend who has a younger sister, he told me how he recalls his parents saying they want a daughter as though a daughter was some sort of commodity. I suppose we can say some ‘friends’ have the same approach to friendship (but then that’s not really friendship). A friend-group to some people is just that: a group of people they call ‘friends’. Since I’ve started university I’ve realised how having friends is a choice (and I don’t mean in the sense that you pick your friends like shopping at a grocery store but in the sense that to make a friend and keep a friend, you must have time for them; you must have time for each other).

In school we do not get to choose our friends. We are thrown into a group of people who we develop a friendship with because we spend a lot of time together, almost all day even. But at university (and I also believe in adult life) we are not stuck to a group of people. Instead we make time to see them outside of our regular schedule, making staying friends not as ‘convenient’ as it used to be.

A friend is not a convenience (as a lot of people may believe). Sure, we go out clubbing with our friends, have sunday lunch, see movies, gossip about the same people we hate, and share our favourite music and tv shows. Friends are meant to be fun but you know when you’ve made a real friend when you can call them at two in the morning or have them hug you and feel loveable even when your lover no longer thinks the same. A friend is someone who understands when you have the occasional day of not wanting to talk to anyone. That’s why I agree, friends are like the family we choose to have.

Of course I believe we are friends with more than just our friends. Our father or mother or boyfriend or girlfriend might be our best friends. But it takes a lot to be just friends with someone. To have affection for them and not need anything in return but their friendship.

Ironically, I ‘owe’ this blog to a friend (even though my Dad has been encouraging me to start a blog for years) who gave me the final push to finally write my first post.

(The use of Taylor Swift’s squad may or may not be ironic).