Notice the title wasn’t How to be Happy as there is no magic formula for that – life happens and often we can’t control what happens. But, no matter what is going on around you, it is often possible to be just a little bit happier. Or a little bit calmer. Or a bit more at ease. Whatever you want a little more of.
The secret is actually to eat porridge. Well that’s MY secret but we can hopefully help you to find your equivalent.
You see porridge is not just a food for me. It’s a ritual. My porridge-time is a special time. It generally happens around eleven o’clock so can rightfully be called elevenses rather than breakfast (which is normally a green smoothie much earlier in the day). And the key criteria for porridge-time are:
I am alone
I generally don’t do anything else while eating it so it’s a fairly mindful activity
It often comes after some sort of achievement eg having done exercise or a coaching session. But I may not have achieved anything and that’s fine too.
Porridge-time is a little oasis of calm in the day. Eating the porridge while looking at the birds on the bird feeder. With or without music playing depending on how I’m feeling. And varying toppings too cos that’s the crazy sort of girl I am.
And no matter what else is going on in life I can always find the pleasure to be had in porridge-time. I didn’t quite realise how important it was to me until the school holidays ended and I had my first porridge-time in many weeks (porridge-time is definitely not the same when kids are around – then it’s just eating porridge!).
Now porridge-time might not do it for many people. But, more generally, a strategy for being happier is to look for these small moments and to really notice & enjoy them. To consciously build small moments into your day wherever possible for a little respite. It could be a cup of tea first thing in the morning but sitting with it, rather than rushing and drinking on the run. It could be pausing when you get on the train to just take a few moments to breathe and notice how you are feeling. It could be spending 10 mins reading a good book before you turn your phone on in the morning. Or 10 mins of yoga. Or a cuddle with kids, or a partner, in the morning or before bed. Or enjoying the weather on the walk back from school. Whatever you need to take a “joy moment”.
At the same time, by consciously tuning in and enjoying these little moments, you are training your brain to look for the good things in life. To be more inclined to notice what’s going well. To not dwell on the sad or frustrating aspects so much.
As you focus on these small, simple, moments of calm or joy or peace, you also enable your body to relax a little. To calm the nervous system. To feel less ready for a fight/flight reaction.
It reminds me of the saying ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. In this case look for the small moments & simple pleasures and the challenges will be just a little bit easier. Or in relationships – keep looking for small ways to connect with your partner & to build positivity and you’ll be more able to handle disagreements. The small stuff matters because it generally happens more often and impacts us.
What’s your equivalent of my porridge-time? And if you don’t have one, what could you start to include in your day? I’d love to hear. Please like / comment / share. Sue x