Be Nice It's Tuesday

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Winter Kindness part 2

(Read part 1 first here)

Yesterday, as I said in the previous post, I was thinking about small, random acts of kindness, and then I came across a post by a Facebook page I follow, Kissing Fish (whatever your views on Christianity, I recommend having a look at this page, you may well be surprised at what you find). This post linked to a blog post by Make Me Happy Today, which has a free download of a ‘Kindness Advent Calendar’. I’m not going to repeat everything said in the post, I recommend you all go and look at it here. I think this is a beautiful, fantastic idea – I kind of wish I’d thought of it, it’s just so lovely. I shall definitely be doing it this year, and since day one is to share the calendar with other people, I’m doing well at it so far.

If you are a Christian, then advent is a time of preparation, of looking forward to Christmas and the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of looking for peace, and spreading joy to all people. I often think that Christian celebrations in the western world have become commercialised, and made all about self and not others. I do have a chocolate advent calendar, but do I really need a little piece of chocolate every morning in order to prepare myself for Christmas? Isn’t loving all other people, and spreading that love and happiness a far better way of embodying the Christmas spirit, and making myself open to Jesus?

I have made this a lot about my religion, but the original post was not, and I think non-Christians who celebrate Christmas will see a lot of their values and Christmas spirit in what I have said. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I would still recommend looking at the calendar, and choosing and 25 days to try and do these acts of kindness.

A little kindness can go a long way, and remember, happiness is like jam – you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself. So Happy Advent, and I hope you can all go out and bring joy to the people around you.


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I am Happy

I think it is a fact of life that there are times in your life which are happier, and times which are less so. In the past year I’ve worked quite hard at recognising the times when I am not so happy, when I’m struggling, and really working to keep myself as upbeat as possible.

But after the post I wrote yesterday, I got to thinking about how it’s not just admitting that you’re feeling down that can be difficult. I’m guessing it’s not just me who gets so caught up in the business of life that I rarely stop and think ‘I am happy right now’. Not just in an immediate, ‘this is enjoyable’ kind of way, but that my base mood for a prolonged period has been happiness. I’m guessing I’m also not alone in that this is not always the case, but right now it is. Recently I have been happy. And this has allowed me to get through my exams with no more than the expected amount of stress. It’s allowed me to try new things, set myself goals, and be pleased when they’re successful, and not be too disappointed by failures. It’s allowed me to meet new people and enjoy close friendships  It’s allowed me to enjoy the beautiful weather, and time off from exams and university. It’s allowing me to go through things that I often find difficult and emotional; I’m still getting emotional, but it’s manageable. And yet it was only when I had to stop and think about it that I realised just how happy I have been, and how lucky I am to be this happy. I know it’s not going to last forever, but I also know that it will come back. But I decided I needed to write it down, to properly acknowledge how well I’m doing, so that next time I feel like I’ve been constantly unhappy since 2013, I’ll have proof that that isn’t true.

There are times when even being slightly happy is a real struggle. There are also times when it sneaks up on you, and you might not even notice it until it’s gone again. But whether you achieve happiness with effort or unconsciously, it is always worth stopping to appreciate how amazing it is.

I really think people should take more notice of their emotional wellbeing, so I advise you to just stop and think this evening. Think about what your basic mood has been for the past month or so. If you are happy then that is great. Remember the feeling, savour it. Think about why you are so happy, and appreciate and hold on to those things. If you are not happy, then think about why that is. What could you do to improve your happiness? Can you get help from somewhere, or is it something you can work on alone? (A bit conceited I know, but maybe check out more of my blogs in the ‘happiness’ category). However you’re feeling, you might also like to get a notebook and write it down,or leave a comment here, so you can look back in a few months time and see whether things are different. Knowing why you are/n’t happy now could help you be happy in the future.

In todays world, happiness and emotions can often be forgotten about; not as important as careers, busy lives, social media, etc. But I really believe that happiness is one of the greatest things in life, and it deserves work and appreciation.


Positive Notes on Trains

The other day I wrote about a long train journey I had, and how much people were complaining on that train. Today I wanted to share a more positive side of that journey.

I’ve probably said before, but I try to leave little notes in random place with nice messages on. I usually forget to do this when I’ve meant to, but I usually find trains and busses are good places to do it – I think people often need a lift when they’re on public transport! On that particular train journey I had plenty of time to stick notes on the backs of seats around me, and I took photos of some of them:

A quote from ‘Good Day’ by Ron Pope (I know I go on about that song a lot, but it’s great)

IMG_2674More song lyrics, this one from ‘Get Better’ by Frank Turner

Something which is always important to remember when you’re feeling sad or fed up

My standard thing to write on these notes, just a nice thing to read

I love leaving these notes, when I remember, and I would recommend other people to do it. Think what a lovely world it would be if every time you sat on a train, or opened a newspaper, or bought a second hand book, or used a public toilet, you saw a nice message like this.

Let me know in the comments whether you’ve ever left or found notes like this


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Complaining About Complaining

I’m afraid that what I’m about to write is rather hypocritical.

A few weeks ago I was on a train from Bristol to Edinburgh. I left my flat at 10:30 in the morning with all my bags for the weekend. I went to one seminar, then had a break to eat lunch and do some revision, then had a second seminar. Then I walked to the train station, had an hour waiting there (I always like to leave plenty of time to catch the train, but it does lead to a lot of waiting around), then got n my train at 4:30 in the afternoon. Bristol and Edinburgh are quite far apart, so the train was already meant to take 6h30m, but then it was delayed for quite a while through Yorkshire (it was very strange going through my home stations and not getting off), so I didn’t get to my sister’s flat in Edinburgh until after midnight.

As well as being delayed, between Birmingham and York the train was very full of people who’d had to wait even longer because of earlier trains being cancelled, so naturally these people, many of whom had to stand up, were not feeling very happy. But I noticed how much people were complaining about it all very loudly; one man in particular seemed to be ringing everyone he knew to tell them about the delays. Now I’m sure I am sometimes guilty of complaining too much, and I guess that is what I’m doing now, but in situations like that, when there’s nothing that can be done and everyone is in it together, complaining out loud can only make things worse for everyone. It’s annoying to be constantly reminded of the situation you’re in, it’s annoying when you want to remind the person that you have to stay on this train long after they’ve got off, and it just spreads a general air of negativity everywhere.

Complaining can sometimes help you to get something off your chest, and getting sympathy from others can make you feel better, but I think there are some guidelines which should be applied. For instance, it’s much better to complain to someone who isn’t involved, and so people involved don’t see/hear. Keep it to a minimum; have your rant, hear a reply, then focus on other things. Don’t expect it to change the situation, or even make you feel much better. And most importantly, once you’ve got it out your system, make sure you keep it in perspective. We all have things we could complain about, but in the grand scheme of things, how important are they really?

I knew exactly what I wished I could say to this man, but I’m not that confident, so instead I just wrote it down, to share here:

I’m on this train for hours longer than most people here, but at least I’ve had a seat the whole way. My evening meal was stale sandwiches, and I’ve run out of water, but at least I’ve had more than enough to eat and drink to survive. This trip has cost me a lot of money, but at least I did have the money for the tickets. It’s annoying that people are playing music and videos out loud on the train, but at least my ears work well. I’m tired, I’ve just gone past my home where I really want to be, I’ll be spending the weekend on floors or in strange beds, but at least I will have somewhere safe to stay. And best of all, I’m going to see my sisters, and complaining about any of that stuff would just make it seem like they weren’t worth it. And they are.

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Songs to Start the Day With

Getting up in the morning is something which a lot of people find exceptionally difficult. But the way you get up and how you start your day can have a big impact on your mood for the rest of the day. I’m usually in a rush in the morning, but here are some songs which I think can help you start the day well:

  1. The Circle of Life from The Lion King
    I don’t think I could deal with this every day, but if I’m setting the alarm on my iPod rather than my alarm clock, for whatever reason, I have this as the alarm sound. There is nothing quite so epic to wake up to.
  2. Good Day by Ron Pope
    I’ve mentioned this song before, it is one of my favourite songs ever. It’s so uplifting and I listen to it before leaving the house in the morning I really believe it is going to be a good day.
  3. What’s the Worst That Could Happen? by Dodie Clark
    This is just a really calming and inspiring song. It makes you want to go out and do everything you’ve been planning to do but putting off. The line ‘You can and will do something great today’ has helped me get going on many days.

I’m sure I’ve missed loads from here, let me know in the comments if you have a song that helps you to start the day. And I hope your day goes well 🙂

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What made me happy

On Thursday evening I was feeling pretty rubbish, but yesterday was better. I was still feeling homesick, still struggling to keep up with my uni work, still annoyed about the long walk I have to get anywhere from my accommodation, but there were some things that we making me happy, so lets focus on those.
I think the first main thing yesterday was booking train tickets to visit a couple of my old friends at their uni next weekend. I’ve met so many really nice people here, but I still miss my friends from home and I’ve been feeling like I just need to see someone who actually knows me. So I’ve now got that to look forward to, and I’m really excited about seeing them.
Yesterday evening I went to my first Church Choir rehearsal, which I really enjoyed. We were singing various pieces I didn’t know – lots of sight reading practice! – but also one of my favourite choir pieces, so it was lovely to do that again. And it was just nice to be in a church, and to be singing. That rehearsal cut right across tea-time though, and I was so hungry by the end that I treated myself to some chips from the chip shop on the way back to my flat. There is something so nice about biting into hot chip shop chips when you’re that hungry, and they’re all crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle and just perfect. I did end up eating a bit too much though.
Then when I got back I went with one of my flatmates to another flat in the building for drinks. This group of people is great fun to drink with, but then it got a bit busy and most of them were going out to a club. I don’t really like clubbing, and don’t want to spend that much money on going out, so I went back to a different flat with a couple of people, where there was a group of Brazilians playing that game where you have to guess what name is stuck on your forehead. Everyone there was really friendly and relaxed, and it was just a nice evening. And I wasn’t ridiculously late to bed, win.
So that was my happy evening yesterday. One other thing which happened on Thursday not Friday, but I still think is worth mentioning, was an argument I had during the break of our two hour German Poetry lecture (it’s not a good time). I was talking to someone who loves poetry, and I complained that it was all too miserable, then we got into a friendly but heated argument about optimism and pessimism. And it was the most fun I’d had all week, it was just the type of conversation I would have with a lot of my friends back home, and I could just let my guard down and say whatever I thought.

I hope something is making you happy today, let me know in the comments what it is 🙂

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The Meaning of Life

I remember clearly an occasion, I was about 7 or 8 at the time, when I was walking around the Co-op trying to decide what the point of living was.

You go to school so you can get a job so you can earn money so you can pay for your house and food so you don’t die. Was that it? Was the reason for everything we do in life just to survive for as long as possible, before just dying anyway? Maybe you have children along the way, and look after them so the human race can survive as long as possible, but even that will die eventually. I almost thought that was it, especially when I thought of those charity adverts on TV, people in Africa spending everyday just trying to get food and water so that their children and they can survive.

But then I thought no. Because once people have enough money to afford what is needed to survive, they don’t stop. People keep wanting more money, not just the wealth-obsessed ‘greedy’ people, no one is content with just barely surviving for as long as they can.

I knew that money couldn’t be all there was to life though, so I thought about what people do with extra money. I used mine to buy toys. I indirectly used mum and dad’s to go on holidays and be in clubs and have music lessons. So people spend money on buying things, nice things like house decorations, and doing things that they find fun.

And that’s when in struck me. Maybe the purpose of being alive was just to have fun. Beyond just surviving, everything we do is aimed towards making ourselves and/or other people happy.

In 10 years I have not wavered from this conviction that the meaning of life is to enjoy it, and that is why I try so hard to be happy and spread happiness. Because i think everyone deserves to live, not just survive.