Saturday, August 19, 2006

Dispatches from the Front Line of Happiness

'Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?' - I've picked up this volume (by Alan McArthur and Steve Lowe, subtitled 'The Encyclopedia of Modern Life') a few times in airports and shops and found myself agreeing with much in it, but just didn't quite get over the hump of wanting a copy lying around my house. What I think I'll do now is head off to the interface of the Happiness Experiment and Is Everything Shit and send back some dispatches from the front line of happiness, looking at once at what brings happiness and what does its damndest to erode it. Tally-ho!

Happiness Experiment - the conclusion

So that's a good month of recording 3 things that made me happy each day. What have I learnt?

In tune with the title of this blog (and the Ian Dury song that inspired it - see Simple Pleasures [part 1], most of what makes us happy is simple and easily attainable. From a sunset to a good book to your family and home, it mostly doesn't depend on money.

There is the odd day when it's hard to come up with three but that rarely lasts beyond a couple of days and coming up with none never happened.

It's illuminating to look at the recurrent themes - there aren't really that many in total - from play to physical pleasure, from food to family life - all well within our reach.

The day-to-day challenge is keeping that perspective.

So where to from here? That's for the next post...

End of the Happiness Experiment

Good hotel rooms - Great Victoria, Bradford
The kick of public speaking - b.tween conference
Reading the newspaper once in a while

What this means:
1. luxury
2. self-fulfilment
3. having time on your hands

Starting a new novel - The Good Life by Jay McInerney
Arriving in a new country - Granada on a warm evening
Seeing old friends - Eileen and Matthew and the kids

What this means:
1. reading/literature
2. travel/exploring
3. friends

Squeezing oranges fresh off the tree in Eileen and Matthew's garden
Feeling horny in the afternoon - siesta time
Swimming in the evening in an illuminated pool

What this means:
1. drink/food, fruit/nature
2. physical pleasure and rest
3. physical pleasure, water

Reading in bed when it's sunny outside
Outdoor drinks in the evening
Watching cats

What this means:
1. reading
2. nature/light
3. nature/animals

Good hotel rooms e.g. With balcony/terrace
Evening swim in the sea
Reading on the beach

What this means:
1. luxury
2. water/nature/sea
3. reading/sea

Secluded beach
Pendulous breasts
Eating fish on a terrace by the sea

What this means:
1. sea/nature, physical pleasure
2. sex
3. sea, food

Getting brown
Walking en famille
Feeling exercised

What this means:
1. physical pleasure
2. family life
3. physical pleasure, health

Birdsong in the morning
Scoring a strike
Walking through Bloomsbury

What this means:
1. nature
2. play
3. urban life - architecture/art meets nature meets people

Sharing Julie and Jonathan's wedding day
A quiet colourful corner of Notting Hill
Looking good

What this means:
1. friends
2. urban life
3. self-fulfilment

Water with fruit juice
Looking at the photos from teenage trip to Israel
Time with Stu and Jon

What this means:
1. drink
2. friends, travel
3. friends

Playing boules with the boyz in the backgarden
Making barbeques
Reading DBPierre's new book

What this means:
1. play, family life
2. food, family life, nature
3. reading/literature

Being invited to be a trustee of 24 Hour Museum
Hanging in Green Park
Evening in Saint James's Square before BAFTA TV committee

What this means:
1. self/professional fulfilment
2. nature
3. nature/light

Learning about User Generated Tagging
A presentation about Flickr and stuff
Working in the sunshine in Embankment Gardens

What this means:
1. learning
2. photography, creative technology
3. nature

Working at the BBC on Creative Archive
Getting home in good time for the kids - dinner out al fresco at the thai
Hooking up with people like Anna Maria in Italy on Flickr

What this means:
1. professional fulfilment
2. family life, nature
3. friends, human connection


Getting a new job title and description I wanted
Chocolate malt milkshake (at Ed's)
Birdwatching on the King's Road

What this means:
1. self-fulfilment
2. food
3. sex

England scoring
Aaron Lennon playing superbly
Discussing the match with N

What this means:
1. sport
2. sport
3. family life

Desert Island Discs
Crappy thriller movies
Friday evenings

What this means:
1. play, music
2. film
3. rest

Our home
30s lidos (Crouch End)

What this means:
1. home, family life
2. physical pleasure/water, architecture

Our new garden shed
The allotments
Memories of playing Action Man (the tank)

What this means:
1. home
2. nature
3. play

The bijoux New Ambassadors Theatre

What this means:
1. architecture/art
2. friends

Joe Cole's goal
Posh outdoor lunch with Iram Q, Green Park
A bunch of new music for my iPod

What this means:
1. sport
2. food, nature, human connection
3. music

Doing Aussie accent for the kids while reading a picture book, Wombat Stew, for the both of them
Buying the best of Commando comics (echoes of Wittering) from Hatchards
Walking through Saint James's in the sun

What this means:
1. family life, reading
2. art/reading
3. urban life


Introducing N to Commando comics

What this means:
1. teaching, sharing

Reading Skins script
IPod shuffling on the tube home

What this means:
1. film
2. music, pleasant surprises

Surveying progress of extension at sunset

What this means:
1. home, nature
2. photography, creative technology

Bed time read with Dylan - Wolves in Sheep's Clothing
Watching James May(?)'s tv show about classic toys with D and laughing together
Tommy scratching the glass back door to get in at night

What this means:
1. family life, reading
2. play
3. animals

Lunch on roof terrace of soho house with the Carbon mikes
Getting my teeth into Big Art Project
Evening fizzy tea session after work

What this means:
1. human connection, nature
2. art, professional fulfilment
3. human connection


18/8/06 last day
My old orange iBook (coming out of retirement)
Watching N setting up toy soldiers - those old Airfix 1/30something figures (recently augmented with an eBay purchase)
Post-gym satisfaction

What this means:
1. creative technology, colour
2. family life, play
3. physical pleasure

The conclusions drawn from all of this follow in next post...