I’ve just finished Matt Haig’s Reasons to Stay Alive. I was intrigued to read it after listening to him on Fearne Cotton’s fabulous podcast Happy Place. The combination of her upbeat yet grounded approach and his familiar, warm Yorkshire tone made for wonderful Sunday listening. He spoke frankly about his personal battle with the black dog and how running, yoga and writing has helped him to steady his thoughts.
I’ve not suffered from depression myself. Though I’ve definitely been consumed by more sad thoughts since losing my mum. But then I’ve always been emotional. Have I been more anxious though? Yes. Worrying more than normal? Yes. In fact I’ve been twittertastic! So spurred on by his engaging story I downloaded the book. And found it an easy to read, enlightening little gem. Yes the stats he quotes are scary. We shouldn’t hide from them though. But I loved his inspiring references and nuggets of advice. Like Lord Bryon’s ‘And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on.’ Times can be tough, but yes life will go on. This definitely resonated.
I mostly took note of the way he talks about living in the moment. My husband is forever reminding me of this as most of the time I’m either dreaming about the past (oh Geneva!) or panicking about the future (what am going to do with my life, will the kids be ok etc etc). With today’s frenetic world of social media overload, endless WhatsApp groups, FOMO, online shopping, keeping up with the Joneses – it’s nigh on impossible to just be. It’s true though – I must try harder.
In his final chapter Haig writes a list of some of the things that make him happy. To act as a constant reminder of the simple delights of life. A reminder to focus on them rather than the gloom and doom that can shroud our thoughts at 3am. To breathe them in, as I love to say, at every given opportunity.
So in an effort to be more rooted in the here and now, here are some of my own happiness triggers.
My boys’ chubby cheeks and their rosebud lips – each boy so similar yet so different. Koala bear hugs from my littlest. Knowing my big boys have a hug and kiss before leaving each other in the playground. Hearing about my dad’s adventures abroad over a Rioja (who knew he had been shot at twice!). 9am daily chats with my big sister. Swimming in a cold lake. A scent that prompts a memory. Digging out a whole peanut butter cup from a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Peonies. The fresh promise of September. Yorkshire in the sunshine (it does happen honest). Family bike rides. Managing to keep my balance on a paddle board. Melted cheese. Seeing my husband laughing with his brothers. Three sleeping boys. Breakfasts when camping. A child free night out. Live music. Singing hymns. Good red wine. A book I don’t want to end. Writing. Friends. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. Freshly ironed white bed sheets. Adventures big and small. Early nights. Being close to water. Venice. Strawberry milkshakes. Espresso Martinis (though less so recently!). Holding little hands. Kisses. Dipping my toes in water on a hot summer’s day.
Seeking out these happiness triggers, being generous, gracious and grateful might just be the way forward. All the Gs!
Read the book! Heartbreakingly honest, powerful and positive. Let’s embrace the small things and don’t sweat the biggies.