Monday, 3 March 2014

The 10 things I've done (or do) that make me happier

I have been reading a lot on the science behind happiness and well-being, as part of a project I am preparing. It has always fascinated me and I love seeing the evidence behind the hypothesis. When one reads such research, it is often difficult not to look at one's life a bit closer, make comparisons and even, if one can, make changes. 

I have compiled here, my personal list of things that I have done, or do on a daily basis that make me happier. I would like to revisit these in later posts, to look at each one in more depth, look ay research and find out the mechanisms, perhaps, in which these habits/actions add to our life-satisfaction. 

1. I got my dogs
Dogs are an infinite source of happiness in our household. Yes, they are also a source of stress, but the joy far outweighs the stress. I never thought we would have ended up with four, but life happened and here they are:

I love how they love me and I love how I love them. They are loyal and devoted, they are fluffy and cuddly. A lot of friends and acquaintances ask me how I can cope with the hair (I don't care, we just have to hoover more often), the expense (do people ask this question about kids too?), the walking (we walk them when we go running, almost daily) and many other such things. For us the dogs are part of the family. And at the end of the day, I would not change them for the world! 

2. I spend time outside
Linked to the above in some ways, at least, this is one habit of happy people that makes sense. Spending time outside, especially in nature, is known to make us feel better, calmer, happier. More on the research in a next post. Here is last evening's walk (despite my stinking cold):

And the sky as the sun went down...

Which links to...

3. I live on a mountain
After having lived here, on the mountain, for the last four years, I don't think I could live somewhere urban again. I love waking up to the sun rising over the sea and, just as much, watching the moon rise out of it in the evening. 

I love the view from my bathroom, 

and the view from my bed. 

Yes, the nearest shop might be five kilometres away, and the nearest metro stop 7, but I would not change this for the world! 

4. My short commute
It's not me who says it, it's science. People with shorter commutes tend to be happier. It takes us about 10 minutes and one traffic light to get to work in the morning - can't beat it! Plus, my drive to work is through vineyards and olive groves. 

Yes, occasionally we get delayed by sheep blocking the road. Better than a traffic jam! 

5. I got rid of my TV
I wish it were that D and I were so intellectual and cool that one day we decided we no longer needed out TV. I fear it was not exactly so. Instead what happened was that Greek TV went from analogue to digital. That would have required us to either get a sort of digi-box, or purchase a new TV. It seemed to us that it was not worth the fuss... so we stayed without a TV for a while. Almost two years later it transpires that it was the best decision we ever made! Less TV means more time for reading, talking, cooking and many other things. We still have our TV set, and we do watch the occasional DVD or series. But we watch less than an hour each day, often a lot less and that's the way we like it!
Linked to that is...

6. I'm on a news fast
I grappled a lot with this one. It kind of jars with my image of myself as a responsible citizen. But without a TV I have a lot less access to the news, especially the kind of news that used to make me anxious and sometimes scared to sleep in my bed at night. Some might argue that not knowing about the dangers out there does not mean they do not exist, but I truly believe I am a lot happier and much calmer without TV news. I still look at selected internet sites two or three times a week for a news roundup. And I still live in a world where, if something big happens, I will somehow find out! More on that later, for sure!

7. I wake up early
Yes, all about that extra hour again. I will not go on about it. If you want to read about me raving about it click here and here .

8. I became a teacher
I love children. I love being with them, chatting to them, I love seeing them find out, grow up, ask questions. I have loved being a teacher ever since I started, 10 years ago. There are things about the profession I do not like, but the children are not one of them! Teaching gives me a sense of purpose, meaning and inspires my sense of wonder. What more can one ask from a job?

9. I keep a gratitude journal
I started that in October last year. I use a simple app on my phone, which keeps all my moments of gratitude in a gratitude journal. I find at least one good thing to say about each day. I feel it has made me appreciate life more. Studies confirm that... More on that later.

10. I got married
Ok, so I don't actually mean that the wedding part of it has added to my happiness (although we had two of them, and they were both just great)!

But having a life partner, one like D, is probably my single most profound source of happiness. I thank my lucky stars regularly (see above). 

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