I recently got tagged by Fed to write my own version of his post ‘10 things that make me happy“. But I got the notification while I was lying on the beach in Sitges, so there was no way I was going to touch the keyboard until I was back here in London.
As for identifying only ten things that make me happy, well…that was tough. Let’s assume that family and friends are a given, while I focus on some of the things you might not know. I guess (all moaning and groaning on this blog to the contrary) I’m a pretty happy guy. But here’s the list of ten that I managed to come up with.
Come on, you had to have guessed this one. It’s where the majority of my disposable income goes (and some of the not so disposable too!). I absolutely adore travel, whether it’s seeking out new places or even return visits to old favourites. I’m so lucky that my job and my life allow me to do so much travel.
The last few years have seen me visit Spain, Japan, Korea, Italy, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore, Malaysia…all for a mixture of business and fun!
And while I’m the first to admit that not every business trip is luxury (or even fun), I try to find something to enjoy about each one. It might be a nice meal, seeing a new part of the city, or just enjoying meeting new people. Travel, to me, is a way of learning more about the world and enjoying new experiences. If I didn’t have to work, I’d just spend my time traveling the world!
2. Sunlight on my face
It’s no surprise that this makes it on the list. You might be visualising me on some beach somewhere, especially if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. It’s not representative, though – my life isn’t all ‘Sitges and Cocktails’! But actually, turning my face up to the sun and sitting still is a surefire way for me to improve my mood and recharge my batteries.
Living in London, I definitely feel sun-deprived for several months of the year. But when it makes an appearance, I’ll do what I can to get a seat outside, pop in my AirPods and sit back to bask in its rays for as long as possible.
That said, the time I spend on beaches is always welcome!
3. Getting engrossed in a good book
My Kindle is never far from my side. It’s definitely paid for itself over the years and I’ve enjoyed its company on long train journies and time spent on beaches. I absolutely love getting so stuck into a book that I forget the time. The first few pages of exploration. The surprises and plot developments. Or when I will myself to stay awake for just a few more minutes so I can finish a chapter. And then continue well into the next one…
And the excitement of looking up an author when you’ve finished their book, to check what else they’ve written – so you can start the whole process over again.
4. Discovering new music on Spotify
Spotify has replaced Apple Music has my music app of choice. It’s been (in my experience) far superior at suggesting new music and new artists than Apple Music ever was. I love finding something beautiful on the Daily Mix and Release Radar playlists. I’ve been delighted and sometimes challenged by what it throws up, but it’s always been interesting and far more varied than the competition.
It’s great when this happens when I’m out and about and get surprised by something new and exciting pumping into my ears via my iPhone. Music makes any journey better and can take the sting out of an otherwise boring situation.
Long live Spotify!
5. Spending quiet time in the sauna or onsen
Finding out that our apartment block had a communal sauna was the fact that sealed the deal for me. I love going down there with a newspaper or magazine and whiling away a couple of hours. Obviously interspersed with plenty of cold showers and lots of water. But it’s just so incredibly relaxing. And nine times out of ten, I have the place to myself.
I always sleep better after a sauna. Always. And because you (obviously!) can’t bring any gadgets into a sauna, it represents some of the only time I have without any interruptions or the temptation to multi-task.
Just me, a magazine and the searing heat.
My sauna is one the most relaxing and happies places close to home. Just writing about it now makes me smile.
6. Snapping fun or interesting things with my iPhone
My iPhone 7 Plus has the best camera I’ve ever owned. And I just love whipping it out as soon as I spot something interesting or funny, knowing it will be backed up in several places and knowing I can share it with friends and family in just a few taps. It’s especially useful when traveling to capture menus, beautiful views and ‘interesting’ locals.
The most fun is when I go back to look at my candid snaps months or even years later. It’s like I’ve hopped in a time machine and I can enjoy the experiences all over again. The camera on my iPhone is a bit like an outboard memory for me – and when combined with Google Photos, I know I can delve back into pretty much any day over the last decade and relive the fun.
My all-time best mood-booster, running has been a life-saver. I came to it pretty late, only picking it up when I shared a flat with an amazing and talented runner. Picture a gazelle! I was about 24 and was far too out of shape for my age. So a simple 5km round one of London’s parks nearly killed me.
But I was hooked.
Since then, my running and my general fitness has improved. I’m no athlete, but I’ve run marathons (ugh) and half-marathons (yay!), even getting my PB in the latter down to 1hr42mins at one point. Nowadays, it’s mostly running around 10km while enjoying a podcast. And while I don’t always feel super-enthused when I’m lacing up my trainers, I always feel happier once I’ve been for a run, even if it’s only a 5km pooter around the neighbourhood.
I’m lucky enough to live next to the Thames, so my views of the river when running are always interesting.
8. My job (most of the time)
I’m lucky enough to run my I own business and be my own boss. The last three years of work have been the happiest I can remember. I focus on the kinds of projects I love, avoid the ones that are less fulfilling and work alongside some of the nicest people I know – colleagues and clients.
No job is perfect and there are certainly off days. But I get a lot of satisfaction from the work I do, the feedback I get and knowing that I’m making some kind of difference to the clients I support.
Seeing as work is such a huge part of our lives, it’s so important that it’s something we can enjoy. But I know that not everyone does and count myself very lucky to be in this situation. It may be tiring, there may be occasional long hours and frustrations, but a good day at work is a definite mood-booster and something that keeps me very happy.
9. Escapism at the cinema
As soon as the Everyman Cinema opened close to me in Canary Wharf, I bought annual membership. This gives me an all-you-can-eat card for any films that are showing. And so I get myself down there as frequently as possible. Combine their soft couches with the fact that it’s often very quiet and I’m in cinema heaven.
I love getting absorbed in a film and letting it transport me elsewhere. A great recent example was going to see Wonder Woman. I was sucked in from the first few minutes and left the cinema on a high. I reminded me of the first time I saw ‘Raisers of the Lost Ark’.
Now that I have membership, I try to get down to the cinema on a Friday afternoon (remember, I’m my own boss!) and usually have the screening room to myself. I’ll go to see something – anything – to help me relax into the weekend and start it on a positive note.
Interestingly, even going to see a terrible film (I’m think of the most recent example: ‘The Mummy’) is a fun experience. Sitting the dark, letting the big screen wash over me, let’s me forget about everything else for a couple of hours.
10. Frank, of course!
Last, but definitely not least, is my husband and partner in crime: Frank. My companion on my travel adventures and my co-pilot through life. He’s made me laugh more than any other human alive and is probably one of the most thoughtful and caring people I’ve met.
He consistently makes me happy. And I couldn’t imagine making a list like this that didn’t include him. 😀