1. push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.
2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.
3. erase processed food from your diet. start with no lollies, chips, biscuits, then erase pasta, rice, cereal, then bread. use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.
4. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else.
5. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.
6. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.
7. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.
8. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.
9. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.
10. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.
11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.
12. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.
14. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything.
15. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.
16. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you.
Okay, I’m going to tackle these one at a time, because pretty much all of them give me the irrits for various reasons.
1. Get up early and watch the sun rise. Fuck. That. I already get up at 5:30 AM. I have kids to breakfast, clean, get dressed and get organized before I go to work. I get to see the sun rise in little snatches between Just Eat Your Damn Breakfast and Why Aren’t You Dressed Yet?
2. Go to sleep early and wake up refreshed. Yeah, I already kinda do that. I get, maybe, ten minutes of me-time after the kids’ bedtime before I have to haul my saggy ass to bed. And then, because I’m a writer, I have to fend off paranoia, fuckup flashbacks and dreadful imaginings before I can get hafway to slumberland. I wake up a wreck, thanks.
3. Erase processed food from your diet. Start with lollies. YOU CAN TAKE MY CHOCOLATE WHEN YOU PRY IT OUT OF MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS! That is all.
4. Get into the habit of cooking a beautiful breakfast. Are. You. Shitting me? Did you not read #1? I’m already busy enough getting the kids fed. I’m lucky to get toast or a quickie meal after 9AM.
5. Stretch everything. I’m over 40 with 2 kids. The best stretching that’s done is my patience. Like you’re doing right now. That, and my toes were ALWAYS out of my reach.
6. Drink 2L of water a day. Well that’s just common fucking sense. You need 2L of water a day. Doy.
7. Keep a pretty diary. I already have too much shit to do, and not enough time to do it in. Next.
8. Wash your bedclothes and undies with fabric softener. Do you have ANY idea what fabric softener DOES to a decent bra? RIP, Old Faithful…
9. Organize your room. Not until you come over with two giant skips and a work crew. Pre-paid.
10. Have a luxurious shower. Showers are painful because foot problems. Change it to “bath” and have someone willing to answer the damn phone, and mind the kids, and cook the meals, and then we can talk.
11. Go for a walk. Suuuuuurrre. You can come with me and meet AAAALLLLL the neighbourhood plovers. Thanks to global warming, they nest all year ‘round, now.
12. Message old friends with jokes. I’m pretty sure my old friends lost my number on purpose…
13. Psst! You missed one. How about “Live for the happy moments”, because that one works for me.
14. Go read a book on something that interests you. No, nobody’s written a book entitled How to Kill People Who Write Near-Useless Happiness Guides and Get Away With It.
15. Become the person you would like to fall in love with. Hm. I think my husband would be dismayed if I turned myself into him. I’ll pass. As for the rest of it, I think they’d come and take you away, before long. Have fun in Sunnydale Sanatorium…
All of these “How to be happy” lists presume far too much for my comfort, at the very least.
Am I alone?