Monday, 16 December 2013

Too much time on my hands

A couple of weeks ago, I decided not to write a blog post. Specifically, I decided not to write a blog post about how I was feeling a bit low, a bit tired, a bit worn down and overwhelmed. I'd had a busy time at work, added to a good few nights spent sleeping on a children's ward  (don't fret - everything's fine, now, and no-one was terribly at risk anyhow).

Instead, I took lots of books out of the library. These books were about Happiness, and Getting On With Things, and Sorting Out My Life. And I put them in piles on my bedside table and down the side of the sofa and renewed them a couple of times but the mere fact of their presence in the house just didn't seem to be doing me any good. 

Then, during an afternoon selling items for work at a fairly quiet Christmas market, I got my chance to read. I liked this book especially: You Can Be Happy, by Professor Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman. It's not my first book about happiness, and I was almost put off happiness altogether by Gretchen Ruben's book a couple of years ago, where she spent an awful lot of time doing what sounded like admin (tackling tasks, sending emails, ordering stuff) and then unforgiveably giving up drinking.  So this was a pleasant relief:
"We're not suggesting you adopt... a spartan lifestyle. Food and drink and two of life's great pleasures."
Okay, then. I made lots of notes. I underlined the phrase 'fairly modest change'. I wrote words like 'avocado' and 'new activities' and 'deep satisfaction' and 'delight' and 'oily fish'. I came up with a list of what seemed at the time to be achievable goals.

The next morning I woke up 15 minutes early, did yoga, and went downstairs to prepare a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe - a Kale, Apple and Ginger smoothie.  I love Gwyneth. Gywneth had a migraine once so she changed her whole diet completely and wrote a huge book about it. On reflection, she perhaps isn't the best guru for someone attempting fairly modest change.

Did Gwyneth's husband suggest that she was not all there? Did Gwyneth find herself, ten minutes after drinking her smoothie, trying to pack sandwiches whilst shouting at a grumpy teenager, with boxes of couscous falling on her head whilst she searched in cupboards to find the raisins? No. Did Gwyneth discover that getting up at 6.30am in order to make time for a new activity actually meant that she no longer had time or energy to empty the dishwasher?

In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Ruben comes up with a number of Secrets of Adulthood, ranging from the practical - 'Soap and water removes most stains' to the more obscure - 'The opposite of a great truth is also true'.

I present to you my Secret of Adulthood.
"Never make decisions about what you can achieve when you have more than the usual amount of spare time."


  1. Ah, I love to see what Great People recommend for happiness and life organisation. I wouldn't actually attempt it myself, but it's nice to read about. Hope you're feeling cheerier soon. I've been feeling a bit down too. I nearly did a post yesterday called "Walking gloomily in the gloom" or something similar, but fortunately I restrained myself. It will pass I think. If it doesn't, I have a leaflet in the kitchen which I got from the library, entitled "Mood Boosting Books".

    1. "Walking gloomily in the gloom" sounds amazing. I'd read that.

  2. Kale, Apple and Ginger? Aren't those her children? Gin and knitting work for me, open the Aldi knock-off Baileys and get out your English piecing. Hoping you feel better soon x

  3. Laughter works.. and you've made me laugh this morning. I do so agree about Gretchen Ruben... very annoying!

  4. See, I think waking up at 6:30 is a terrible idea, and no wonder the couscous fell on your head. But moderate change, smoothies and yoga sound good. Maybe you should sacrifice something else to fit them in, rather than your precious sleep time. If you made sandwiches the night before and delegated dishwasher emptying to another family member? Or took to gin and knitting as Sue suggests. (LOL to her comment about gwyneth's children being smoothie ingredients)

  5. you could probably shorten that to "never make decisions about what you can achieve". and then you'll always be pleasantly surprised when you actually do. that's the mantra I'm following for now anyway.

    that and wondering if I dare brave all those roundabouts in search of knock off Baileys, now that Sue has made me think of it.....

  6. Hello! I just wanted to say that I empathize. Your post made me smile with recognition :-)
    I hope you feel better soon.

  7. Need a happy boost? Read some blogs written by people you KNOW have not Found all the Answers, who muddle on through, being organised one week and losing the plot the next. Then you start to think perhaps you are doin' OK after all. A little bit of gratitude and appreciation is fine, but STOP before you start sounding like someone you don't really like much. Have a little treat now and again (But don't overdo it because you know it makes you feel crap afterwards) and laugh. Play music. Stitch. Read (something that doesn't make you feel inadequate). Hug someone. Phone a friend. (But not the one with the empty ironing basket and permanently clean windows). You made me smile!

  8. I love this - so true, amazing how easy it is to 'improve' and 'work things out' when you get a few extra hours from the madness - one to frame (or even better patent and make your fortune from?)

  9. This post, and Sue's comment, have reaffirmed my faith in humanity and its flaws. You are stupendous xxxx

  10. I agree with Silverpebble. YOU ARE FAB. And I wish you a wonderful Christmas!!

    (How was the smoothie... I have the book too... it scares me... )

  11. I don't know what to say other than, it is so good to see you posting and I enjoyed reading. I have no tips or solutions for you so will just hope that things get better very fast. x

  12. Oh how very true. Life changes are a great idea on paper, but boy do they take it out of you in practice.


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