If you’ve got time to be happy, you’re just not busy enough …

Meandering around the internet in search of inspiration has become a regular pastime of late. It’s a fascinating place. All human life is there. Sometimes more in your face than you’d like it to be. Do I want to know that there are still women out there who consider turning up to an awards ceremony semi-naked to be one of the most powerful feminist statements the pop world has made to date? I thought that kind of thinking had died out with the Spice Girls. Girl Power? Yeah. Right. Straight-down-the-line sex sells. As old as the hills. I suppose if you’re Rihanna you can get away with it. Don’t try to tell me it has anything to do with feminism though.

That one I was compelled to read. Simply to find out how any rational woman could have written such arrant nonsense. Articles that offer graphic images of violence are another matter. It doesn’t add anything to my understanding of human suffering to see photos of the strung-up bodies of two teenage rape victims. The photos posted with *GRAPHIC IMAGES* warnings. Shouting at their target audience in capital letters. I often skip articles like this altogether. I always skip the photos. And I’m not going to post any links here. They’re little more than a gratuitous way to attract a certain type of reader. Unspeakably disrespectful toward the victims of violence.

That’s the trouble with the internet. Leaves nothing to the imagination. And everything comes in bite-sized chunks. Easily digested. Tweets. Photos. Status updates. Video clips. Or for the slightly more dedicated, newspaper articles and blog posts. We just don’t have time in our schedules for anything more demanding. ‘Busy-ness’ has become the new ‘good-ness’. To be snowed under is somehow to be virtuous. We put on a martyred air. Of course I’d love to … read more books … write a novel … learn to crochet … take up watercolour painting … [insert heart’s desire here] … But I just haven’t got time … *deep sigh*.

Before I write another word, I should come clean. You’re looking at a blog by the woman who achieved an honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing without once reading an entire set text from cover to cover. Why? Because she was too damn busy. So you have a perfect right to take anything I say from here on in with a large pinch of salt. If you haven’t done so already.

For all the busy-ness of my own life I couldn’t help raising an eyebrow when I came across 100happydays.com. This website invites you to commit to posting one photo every day for a hundred days. A photo of something that made you happy that day. That’s all. Great idea I thought. A whole lot easier than writing five hundred words a day. For a hundred-and-twenty-five days. I read on. I came up against their assertion that 71% of people give up the challenge, citing lack of time. Lack of time? Come on. For heaven’s sake. How long does it take to shoot and post a photo?

I suppose happiness isn’t as simple as that. We’re programmed to believe we need to be ‘made happy’. By external circumstances. A well-cooked dinner. The latest gadget. A beautiful home. Supportive friends. A loving relationship. The perfect life. There’s an unattainable ideal held out before us. The carrot that keeps the donkey on the treadmill. Always slightly out of reach. We’re in a constant state of discontent. Comparing our life with other people’s. Finding it wanting. Running ever faster to keep pace. In addition, we’re fed the idea that being happy is a bit of a luxury. An indulgence. Something hard working people shouldn’t really have time for. If you’ve got time to be happy, you’re just not busy enough.

Even 100happydays.com asks people to submit a picture of what made you happy. Made me hesitate a little. Happiness isn’t something you can achieve. I’ve known people who had everything you could wish for. Miserable as sin. Happiness is a state of mind. It’s enjoying the journey. Appreciating the small things. Being thankful.

A few years back I was in a really bad place. A very good friend sent me a birthday card. I have no idea whether he’d read the quote on the back. There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. I didn’t get it then. Filed it for future reference. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. Since then I’ve been to hell and back. Now I understand. So I think I’ll do it. Take photos. It’ll take me all of two minutes a day. Five at most. The worst that can happen is I’ll end up with a hundred photos. Any one of which will make me smile when I see it. So what have I got to lose?

 

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I’m blogging to raise funds for a charity close to my heart. I’ve given up NOT being a writer for 125 days in support of One25’s work with vulnerable women in Bristol. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you can find out more about what I’m doing by visiting One25’s website at http://www.one25.org.uk/. You can also support them by visiting my fund raising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=JeanMutch where you can make a donation and suggest an idea for a short story or a post on the blog. Thank you.

 

 

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