After my tiredness-categorisation exercise the other day, I’ve been thinking about different ways to be happy. Here’s what I came up with.
1. Firework, flashbulb happy. Wedding vows, children born, the key of your home in your hand for the first time. Happiness that swells every cell and never quite goes away.
2. Everyday happy. Those small bits of every day that we could miss if we didn’t pay attention – and it would be such a shame if we did. I am sitting here drinking tea from my favourite mug. The mug, and the tea, and the quiet of the morning before the house staggers into life, is an everyday happiness. So is knitting a couple of rounds of a sock. So is sitting down to a meal and having a good conversation. Watching Joy and Hope curl around each other on the sofa. The steam and smell of clean when I open the dishwasher door. Seeing how the tulips are growing as I walk to the gate.
3. Little, unexpected happy. A postcard from a friend. News of someone’s engagement. A newspaper story with a happy ending.
4. Against-all-odds happy. Something that surprised me over and over again during my dance with cancer was how people who weren’t dancing with the disease reacted to cheerfulness on my part. ‘It’s such a beautiful day out there’, I would say to a receptionist or phlebotomist or nurse. The reaction was often along the lines of, ‘you’re so brave’ or ‘it’s amazing that you can be so positive’. But it was a beautiful day. My memories of my time with cancer are shot through with other recollections: lovely lunches, walks vivid with a sense of spring promise, hilarious conversations, cuddling new babies. Maybe the backdrop of drugs and grottiness made the happy times more noticeable.
5. I-worked-for-this happy. Book deals. Relationships coming right. The end of a rocky financial or emotional time. Praise from a difficult client. A quilt completed.
6. People-happy. Probably the best sort, and probably an element of all of the other sorts of happy. There is nothing quite as brilliant as other people, whether they are the ones who are always within arms’ reach or the ones who pop in to your life for a bit then go back to their own.
7. Memory-happy. Snowdrops and bluebells make me happy because they remind me of my Grandma. Pictures of London make me happy because they make me think of my time there. Trains make me happy because I spent years in the company of a train-obsessed small boy, who has grown into a fine (and mercifully no longer train-obsessed) young man.
8. Body-happy. I’m not especially fit or exercise-oriented, but I love the feeling of my body working. Tramping along the beach, the way everything just does what it should be doing: legs, hips, spine, arms, heart, lungs. That. All the more, after cancer.
Have I missed anything?