1 EAGLETON NOTES: Happiness

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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Happiness

Did you know that today is The International Day of Happiness? Apparently the day is celebrated worldwide every March 20, and was conceptualized and founded by philanthropist, activist, statesman, and prominent United Nations special advisor Jayme Illien to inspire, mobilize, and advance the global happiness movement.

I'll be quite honest. I had not heard of the movement until Happiness Day was mentioned on the radio this morning.

I saw the television lunchtime news and there was no mention and not a single piece of happiness there.

Today is also the Vernol Equinox and therefore, in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring officially begins. Unfortunately these days few people worship Zephryus who is (or perhaps was) the god of the gentle west wind and the herald of spring. Consequently he is sulking. Zeus The King of the Gods and the ruler of the heavens was the god of clouds, rain, thunder and lightning and he still seems to be in charge here at the moment.

Anyway ignoring the abysmal weather, let us return to the subject of happiness. How does one determine whether the day has been a happiness success? Internationally the news is, as usual, not dominated by stories of happy events. At home as I type this a newsflash has just arrived on my phone saying that a short extension to Brexit is possible if MPs approve the Prime Minister's Brexit Deal next week. The effect of that would be that the deal will be approved or Britain will crash out of the EU without a deal. Unless, that is, something very spectacular happens. In any case the Royal Mint has issued a 50p coin to reflect the current mood of the nation. None of that indicates happiness so far as I can tell.

So I think we have to look to ourselves for happiness. I woke up this morning. So far as I am concerned that is always a good start to the day. I've been doing it for the last 27,317 days and I don't want to stop just yet. The weather was clement so I enjoyed my morning walk in the woods without getting my usual soaking. When I'd finished my walk and gone into The Woodlands for coffee, the young lady behind the counter greeted me with the diary I had misplaced the previous day. (I use my phone for almost everything except my diary so was lost without it). I'd been in animated conversation with a friend when I'd left and forgotten to pick it up. Silly me. This afternoon I met a lady who had at one time been the best buddy to our son Andy who died. We have almost no adult photos of Andy and whilst we were blethering it transpired that she has. I hadn't met her for years despite Stornoway being such a small place so that really was a wonderfully happy re-union.

Yes. All in all today has been a Good Day.

40 comments:

  1. Such encounters with friendly people can really make a huge difference to one's day, I find. It doesn't even matter whether they are old friends, acquaintances, former colleagues or simply kind faces behind the counter of a bakery, up for a friendly little chat while I am paying for my goods.
    You know that I have many reasons in my life to be happy, both daily and on a more out-of-the-ordinary basis, such as when special occasions arise, for example my upcoming birthday and my Yorkshire Holiday which starts tomorrow. If I'd be focusing on the less than great things in my life, I could easily slip into depression; my eye problems, general worries about politics, environmental issues and so on come to mind. But being happy feels so much better than being sad and worried, and therefore I try to focus on the good without losing sight of the bad entirely.

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    1. Thank you, Meike, for such a wonderfully positive and uplifting start to the comments. I hope that you have a lovely evening and travel safely tomorrow. Have a very enjoyable holiday.

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    2. Yes! Just before reading this, I wrote a post on kindness over at my blog. Come and visit!

      As for happiness, I subscribe to the view that people are generally at their own level of happiness. Some people tend to be more happy, others less so. But circumstances rarely affect this. Studies show that unhappy people who win the lottery are no more happy after than they were before. Similarly, happy people tend to find their level of happiness even in the face of loss or downward changes in circumstance.

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    3. As always I will pop over and visit later, Mrs S.

      I suspect that, as a generalisation, people fall into a personality profile. Some people are by nature, say, happy and positive and others may be negative and unhappy (or happy with their negativity). We are complex creatures. However one's degree of happiness can be a momentary thing too. So a generally happy or contented person can have moments of sadness or unhappiness in amongst their happiness. The permutations are endless.

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    4. Mrs Slapthing is right, the science tells us that we have a hard wired base line of happiness which can fall anywhere on a spectrum and is affected by good or bad external events but we always come back to the base line within about 12 months of the event.

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  2. Yes, its hard to be cheerful all of the time in a troubled world but we both try. I like the sound of the walk in the woods and coffee afterwards even more, lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Thank you Briony. I don enjoy my walk in the woods even if it is raining (I like gales force wind rather less) but the satisfaction of having coffee and possibly a chat with friends after is happiness in my book.

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  3. I do hope this means you are able to get hold of some photographs of your son. It was very fortunate you ran into his friend today and I imagine you were very happy that you did.
    I'm not always sure about happiness. I always think of it as more of a momentary feeling. Contentment is more important to me. X

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    1. I'm sure that I will, Jules. They were very close indeed when they were younger and always maintained a friendship. She is a professional photographer although later in life she went back to Uni and re-trained.

      I agree with you about contentment being very important and I often say when people ask how I am that I'm content. I discovered, though, that people often thought of this in a rather negative second-best sort of way which I do not: possibly because my mother laid stress on contentment. I've not given thought to the temporary nature of happiness although, thinking about it, I see what you mean.

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  4. My wall calendar in the kitchen only tells me that today is Spring Equinox ('vårdagjämning' in Swedish) - it says nothing about International Day of Happiness. So I totally missed that, until now! (Our news on TV and radio have not been focusing on happiness, either.) Happy to report that personally I've had a fairly trouble-free day, though, even if a rather ordinary one... :)

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    1. Monica, I'm very glad to hear that you had a trouble-free day. They are definitely to be preferred over troublesome ones!

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  5. Happiness day sounds like it contains a good message. I had not heard of Happiness Day and I didn't hear about it today either.

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    1. Well, Red, so long as it didn't make you unhappy, that's okay.

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  6. I am very lucky, and possibly very annoying, in as much as I am almost permanently happy. I wake happy, I'm happy through the day, and as long as no-one has done anything to really annoy me, I retire happy.

    p.s. I always celebrate the Equinox on the 21st (today), I see no reason to have changed it!

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    1. I'm with you, Cro... on all of it!

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    2. That's good to hear, Cro. As far as the equinox is concerned I suppose it depends whether one is interested in the event (which is governed by the relative positions of the sun and earth or whether you just want to celebrate it - full stop. As I am not really interested in the actual occasion and don't celebrate it anyway it's not something I'd even thought of.

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    3. You are permanently happy, Cro? You could have fooled me. Judging by your blog you are given to complaining. Be it a lack of mushrooms or, heaven forbid, you having to wear glasses for reading, winter is long, summer takes its time to arrive. The list is endless.

      On the other hand, and by way of mitigation, how do we define "happiness/being happy"? Maybe you are one of those grumpies who are happiest when they find something to grump about. May my reply to you not disturb your happiness by being my usual annoying (to you) self.

      U

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  7. I think there is a day for everything now. I invent my own......Yesterday was horse taming day and it went very well.
    Glad you found your dairy. I haven;t seen one for years I get such stuff from the CO-OP.
    Bugger May's deal. Nobody voted for a deal we voted in or out. Out won. Sensible folk will sort out deals when we have left. They are important, far too important to be left to resumption like May.
    Today is international mend a big roller day.

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    1. Resumption should read Numpties.

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    2. I think that's a brilliant philosophy, Adrian.

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    3. Horse taming did not go as well as I had promised. He was grand with me. Been back over this morning as the evil little sod bit a young lady as she was mounting it. I had to sympathise with the horse as I was tempted. Gorgeous little bum on her. My sister could see where the conversation was heading. I told her he was girth shy. Not to be an evil cow with him and to tighten it gradually. I know horses can be little tinkers but in this case I sided with the horse well worth a nibble I thought.
      I don't vote but accepted Blair, I accepted Heath. I moaned and moaned over spoon faced Cameron. On the biggest mandate in history out was out. I voted and we won. The Brits aren't affeared of Krauts and Frogs. Nor of Muzzies. We all have to act nicely just like the horses.

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  8. I can't see what business it is of the EU that we want to leave. We leave and go. We should have been well and truly left by now. I am always happy. I enjoyed my train journey home last night and watched the Full Moon from my seat all the way. Nobody else noticed it, they were all headphoned up and looking at screens. The art of enjoyment of simple things is lost and as for conversation, you might as well forget it.

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    1. Like you, I am fortunate to be generally content or happy and positive in my life. however, on this occasion, Rachel, we may not be at one. It may well be a matter of my age and upbringing because I have no shortage of conversation amongst my friends and family or of theatre or concert going amongst other things. Of course I love my iPhone and the opportunities it offers me to communicate with friends worldwide. From your blog I get the impression that you, too, are not a stranger to the art of conversation.

      As for simple things look at the number of gardeners in this country who get immense enjoyment from them.

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    2. I don't understand your reference to conversation and "we may not be as one" . I have no shortage of conversation ever, anywhere! I chat to strangers on planes and boats and trains and my lament was that now that they all sit there with headphones there is less opportunity to engage in conversation with people.

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    3. The enjoyment of simple things I meant was the looking out of the train window!

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  9. I like your positive approach so much Graham . One of the pleasures of blogging is reading posts from folks who know the value of little things. After all most big things are made up of little things and it is so much better to be happy about the things that are right, than unhappy about the things that are wrong.

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    1. Thank you, Jenny. That sums up my philosophy and practice in one sentence.

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  10. Graham, hi, don't worry be happy that some of your comments on other blogs have caught my interest. Not that I am that brilliant at sorting the wheat from the chaff as my continued attention to certain blogs will attest to.

    As was mentioned before, by a couple of your commentators, I do believe there to be a baseline to our feeling happy. I am lucky. To illustrate: On one memorable occasion a friend of mine said: "If I were you I'd kill myself". True, the situation seemed insurmountable but since when does killing yourself helps anything? I was born sunshine, and I shall die sunshine (at dusk).

    There is a downside to being "happy" (or is it happy-go-lucky) at all times, even at times of deepest grief. One of them that I never ever give up. On anything, on anyone. The eternal optimist in the face of awesome shite. Some might think it a strength; I have come to, occasionally, see it as a bit foolhardy. Still, as long as I am happy ...

    U

    PS Don't believe everything others tell you. Anyway, nice to have met you.

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  11. Graham, hi, don't worry be happy that some of your comments on other blogs have caught my interest. Not that I am that brilliant at sorting the wheat from the chaff as my continued attention to certain blogs will attest to.

    As was mentioned before, by a couple of your commentators, I do believe there to be a baseline to our feeling happy. I am lucky. To illustrate: On one memorable occasion a friend of mine said: "If I were you I'd kill myself". True, the situation seemed insurmountable but since when does killing yourself helps anything? I was born sunshine, and I shall die sunshine (at dusk).

    There is a downside to being "happy" (or is it happy-go-lucky) at all times, even at times of deepest grief. One of them that I never ever give up. On anything, on anyone. The eternal optimist in the face of awesome shite. Some might think it a strength; I have come to, occasionally, see it as a bit foolhardy. Still, as long as I am happy ...

    U

    PS Don't believe everything others tell you. Anyway, nice to have met you.

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    1. Ursula, this is my third go at responding to your comment. I have a technical glitch and keep losing comments before I've had a chance to save them - something to do with the interaction of the Apple mouse with Chrome and Mojave. I confess that it's denting my computer-using happiness at the moment. I shall try again.

      I do recall that at some stage i made an erroneous comment on a post on Cro's blog so I'm pleased that you seem to have forgiven me.

      I do wonder about foolhardiness sometimes. I wonder, for example, whether some great acts of bravery are simply acts of foolhardiness in the heat of the moment. I suppose, too , that some acts of great stupidity similarly qualify.

      I shall remember your sentence "I was born sunshine, and I shall die sunshine (at dusk)." I would like to think I could adopt that but I'm afraid that, in the past, there have been occasional cloudy periods even if they have been few and far between.

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    2. Oh dear, I can't remember the occasion on Cro's blog you refer to. Whatever you said I am sure it doesn't require "forgiveness". Even if it did I forgive easily.As easily as I forget.

      It's funny how, over time, I will notice certain commentators on blogs I read. That way I have made good friends in the blogging world and quite a few enemies. When I say "enemies" I mean people who live in echo chambers and declare me persona non grata because I dare question not so much them as their assertions. Just typing this makes me laugh so much. Still, one should show respect to one's elders - or should one?

      Anyway, I hope you won't rue the day I cast my eye one you. Speaking of which, I have never been to your part of the world, yet The Hebrides evoke such a romantic notion.Maybe something I read when young and at an impressionable age.

      As to your observation re foolhardiness. Yes. Indeed. I am sure we sometimes find ourselves in situations we have little influence over. Suddenly we are declared a hero (or a fool).

      "Cloudy periods"? My dear Graham, despite my being Ms Sunshine personified (though no Pollyanna) rest assured that I too experience the odd April shower. Unexpected. But always short, over in a flash.

      Catching up with your back catalogue,
      U

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    3. Ursula, I can't recall what exactly I'd said but as it hasn't registered it could not have been important to you. I'm glad about that. I noticed that you stopped blogging a while ago but I did read some posts including your first one. Fascinating!

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  12. I agree with you...thank you for sharing your ideal things.
    have a great day

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    1. Tanza, thank you for your comment. I see that you have a very wide ranging blog.

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  13. I am glad to read there may be photos of your son.

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    1. So am I, Maywyn. Yesterday when going through old videos I'd taken I also discovered the only video which included him. It was at a New Year party at our house back in the early 1980s. It was quite a moving moment and very unexpected.

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  14. I do really like and admire your philosophy Graham. And I really love Ursula's "I was born sunshine, and I shall die sunshine (at dusk)." But that is so not me, as much as I might aspire to be of that mindset. I'm with Jenny in finding value in the little things. It the little things, the little details, that help me see the big things much clearer

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    1. Thank you Lynda. I'm sure that your philosophy cannot be too dissimilar to mine in looking at little things. Most of my happiness comes from little things it's just that I start off from the happiness premise. I can't claim to be like Ursula's "I was born sunshine, and I shall die sunshine (at dusk)." but I aspire to it. Anyway your posts are invariable positive (apart from being invariable excellent photos).

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  15. That's really nice you spoke to someone who knew your son, kind of like filling some missing pieces isn't it? As for rainy days, we are gradually having Autumn gracing us with her presence, it's kind of nice.

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    1. Amy, it really was wonderful and has happified me enormously.

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