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I’m pressing pause on Another Cuppa for a bit while I write over at The Daydream Project. I hope you’ll join me, but if it’s not something you’re interested in please keep talking to me on twitter instead.
I have a confession to make: I think I might be happy. I’m not sure exactly when and why it happened, but the knot of anxiety that sat in my chest for years has disappeared. Obviously I still have moments of feeling a bit tired, or stressed out, or irritated about something. But underneath these surface emotions I feel bizarrely content.
I say bizarrely, because being a project person, I’m used to always working on something. But now, I seem to have lost my drive. I’m happy to just lounge around chatting to housemates or watching DVDs. And although I think I should feel bad about this lack of productivity, I don’t. Which makes you wonder what the point of so called “self-improvement” projects are if you feel better about yourself when you’re not doing any.
Because there are a couple of things that are acting as blockers to my happiness, and they’re both connected to an idea that is supposed to make you happy.
But getting rid of things that do give me pleasure or depriving myself of things I can actually afford to buy is as likely to make me happy as eating less or making myself throw up the things that I do eat. It might make me think I’m in control in the short term, but it isn’t the answer to long term happiness. I’ve spent years on various projects, some of which have improved my life, but what I’ve realised is that that self improvement doesn’t make you as happy as self acceptance does. We don’t have to be always striving for something better. Sometimes, this is it, and it’s great.
To me, acceptance is about:
This post is part of the ALIVE in Berlin Blog Tour, which is spreading the power of ALIVENESS to the masses. Alive in Berlin is a global gathering devoted to personal transformation that takes place on the 30th and 31st of May 2014 in Europe’s most exciting city. The event will bring together world-class experts, visionaries and change makers from a variety of communities and disciplines. Together, we’ll explore the common threads that connect us and make us come alive. To learn more and join us, click here.
If you’d asked me what makes me come alive a few days ago I would have said something different to what I’m about to say now. In the middle of a hectic week of parties, gigs and lunches with old friends I would have said: “Inspiring people, amazing music and great wine.” These things will still sometimes make me feel at the top of the world, but after a solid six days of them you can start to feel the opposite of alive. Today, I feel alive again because of ten hours sleep, a five mile run and all day by myself to think and to write.
So, to recap, what being alive means to me is: partying all night but getting loads of sleep, being around great people but spending time by myself, indulging in rich food and alcohol but eating light meals and running a lot.
Yes, you heard that right. What being alive means to me is a lot of contradictions, because life is messy and confusing. But if you don’t let this bother you too much, it can also be a hell of a lot of fun.
Part of the fun for me is about learning about myself and what makes me come alive. By making a note of when I feel most inspired I’ve been able to change my life to include more of these things, and less of the other stuff.
Some things that make me feel alive are:
As some of the things that make me feel alive things contradict each other, I’ve learnt to balance them. I had a busy social week last week, so this week I’m planning to spend more time alone: reading, creating, and going to bed early. It might not be sound very cool but being cool isn’t what being alive means to me. Being alive is knowing myself, embracing opportunities, being okay with not knowing all the answers, and most of all enjoying the ride.
On Monday I was walking back from the library wearing a t-shirt and skirt (bare legs, no coat) when it started to chuck it down with rain. My clothes were quickly soaked through and my hair dripping wet. I was cold and I was miserable. But then my phone shuffled onto a great song and I smiled. The rain changed from relentless to refreshing, the situation from annoying to amusing. By the time I got home I was laughing. My housemate was stood in the porch in her running kit, frowning as she watched the rain. “You’re soaked,” she said, quite unnecessarily. As soon as I went inside it stopped raining.
I woke up early on Tuesday and decided to lengthen my jog to work by running alongside the river. The path was emptier than usual and the water looked beautiful in the early morning sunshine.
Thursday was wonderfully sunny and we had a picnic lunch outside on the grass, almost forgetting that we were in the centre of a business park.
On Friday I discovered that something as simple as painting your fingernails bright colours while listening to great music can take you from a mood of wanting to crawl into bed to feeling excited about going to a party. (The party was great, and so were my nails).
Saturday reminded me that the measure of a good friendship is not seeing someone for years, but still picking up exactly where you left of. We spent seven house drinking coffee, eating great Lebanese food, wandering around Oxford and catching up.
Sunday brought punting in the sunshine, and late afternoon cocktails. Just what weekends are made for.
(Apparently nothing ever happens on a Wednesday)
Last Saturday morning I found myself away from home and without any make up. I usually wear eyeliner and mascara every day without thinking about it, but a day of having to go without made me a) realise being make up free is not a big deal and b) wonder if I could do it for a week. Here are some things that I learnt from the experience:
A new weekly feature, in which I look back at the best moments of the week. It’s easy to let time slip by without consciously enjoying or remembering each moment, as exemplified by my inability to remember anything distinctive that happened on Wednesday.
I came across these little beauties.
I rediscovered the joys of wearing cowboy boots and virtually skip to the pub. It’s the first time this year we’ve been able to sit outside, and I celebrate by ordering cider (my summer drink).
An evening of yummy Indian food, and a ride around the ring road on the back of a motorbike.
I have a long phone conversation with a friend and then my Mum, even though it makes me late for where I am going it makes me feel much happier to have connected.
I listen to great music and play with beads all day long.
I rejoice at having gone to bed early the night before: no hangover and a really great run. I ran much further than I usually do and most importantly I actually enjoyed it.