So when I first drafted this out in my notebook it started by describing what I should have been doing today. Sitting around with my family, playing games where they would inevitably have called me a ‘cheat’ as I started winning, with tables pilled with food, family banter and true joy throughout the day as we spent time together. But like for so many people throughout the UK, these plans came crumbling down.
First I was sad. Then I was angry. Then I felt just massively deflated. I also am ashamed to admit that I went into pure panic mode. As Boris stopped his speech, Connel and I ran out the door straight to the shops. No list. No plan. Disaster. As we rushed down the isles we grabbed what we thought we might need to go with meat that we thankfully ordered in November (notably this was a Goose and Pork joint intended for 8 people) which was now going to feed two. As this frenzy continued we began stating all the thing we MUST have. We reached the tills, realised that we had put mainly cheese in the trolley and paid. When we got home we unpacked and realised how much we had bought that in reality we just didn’t need. I was not a conscious consumer. This did not help the extreme lack of joy I was already feeling. When I woke up the next morning, I still felt rubbish. Connel and I had a few aggy words for one another about this and that, which was mostly me being short. Then we stopped. I took a breath and realised the only way I was going to enjoy this time of year was if I changed my mind-set.
This is not easy at the best of times – let alone when you and many people across the nation have been desperate to spend some quality time together after a year of calamity, crisis and drama. I looked at my gratitude journal, which I love although have been neglecting through the last week of school due to the sheer tiredness caused by such a hard term. But as I looked at the sub-headings I couldn’t manage it. The task felt huge. So I tried listing out jobs, thinking about three key things to get done. This wouldn’t make everyone feel good and put a positive spin on a rubbish time but I am 100% a list girl. Although in this instant, not so much. Once again the job of thinking about what needed to be done just felt like a mammoth activity. So I cleaned. It is important to note that I hate cleaning. I always feel like I am wasting precious time when I do it, although I can’t stand having a messy house. There have been multiple studies that show that a tidy home makes people happier and more content. So I gave it a go, tidy house, tidy mind – worth a try. As I hoovered the 15 year old once-upon-a-time cream carpet, wiped down surfaces and tackled the bathroom, possibly the worst of all cleaning tasks, I began to feel like I had clarity, although this wasn’t quiet joy.
It was at that point my phone pinged and I got a message from one of my glorious besties, who is quite honestly the most inspirational person I know. Ella had this amazing idea of how to make us (all people) feel happier in the train-wreck that was now our Christmas. On her health and wellness community, Flourish in Five, she posted a short, snappy video which took my breath away in its simplicity and impact. In short what she got me to do was to communicate the ways in which I am lucky already, what do I have. As I wrote my list:
I have amazing friends.
I have a warm home. (Yup… for those that have read my previous blogs posts you know it’s always going to be there).
I have love.
I have a journey I am travelling along with joy.
I was reminded of just how much I have in my life and just how much of that has been present in what, on the surface, has been a monstrosity of a year. Yes, if your sceptical, this task may look twee or embarrassing or just “a bit much” but I encourage you to get over yourself and try it because if you don’t try you don’t know – I mean that in the nicest possible way. And this helped me. I felt lighter, more focused and happier about the situation that was causing me to lose sight of my principles and ethics. Nope I wasn’t going to have the Christmas I had planned but I would have some seriously good cheese. In my warm house. With my cat babies. With Connel. So if you’re feeling low about yourself, Christmas the world and everything go to Ella’s Flourish in Five page NOW (or once you have finished reading).
On finishing this, my mind-set had changed. I had hope that my Christmas wasn’t going to be a lonely, joyless event. Instead I was taking inspiration from the happiest nation, Denmark, and going to get hygge this Christmas. Cosiness is key and creating an environment which calms the nerves and sooths the senses was on the agenda. Thank goodness for the well timed cleaning! All this loveliness, whether through lighting candles, having moments of quiet and slowness enables us to have opportunities to reflect, find joy in what has been and what will be as well as enjoying the moment we’re in. Even if it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.
So I’ve now planned our Christmas: walking, board games and great food. Is it perfect? No. If I had known it would be like this would I have planned it this way? No, I would have been way more conscious about what was going into my trolley. But that’s ok. This Christmas period I am giving myself the gift of a break, cutting myself a bit of slack. What this short blog post is trying to say is its ok. It’s ok not to have you happiness tank 100% full right now. It is ok to not have this time period perfectly planned or executed. It is totally ok to feel not your best self. Instead allow yourself the time to think about a way you can bring yourself a bit of joy whether that be a gratitude journal, a list, house cleaning, speaking with a friend or reminding yourself what you have already that is wonderful.
As the great Dumbledore says:
Happiness can be found in darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.
Gosh that was cheesy :)!
Merry Christmas everybody.