Sunday, 10 December 2017

Happiness still isn't easy

Back in 2013 I wrote twice (here and here) about Alex Quick's book 102 Free Things To Do - inspiring ideas for a better life and how I intended to try the suggestions therein to see if life did indeed get better. At the last update, I identified 34 that I had already done (green), five that I would never do (red)...and the other 63 were up for grabs. Anyway, here's an update - newly done are bold:

  1. Go out and look at the stars
  2. Keep a diary - but only one sentence a day
  3. Meter your energy use with a smart meter
  4. Give up your car
  5. Get up earlier
  6. Sketch your relatives - it's better than photos
  7. Treasure your precious human body
  8. Go on an archeological dig
  9. Write a letter to your future self
  10. Don't confuse affluence with well-being
  11. Memorise a poem
  12. Ask a child for advice
  13. Take part in a police line-up
  14. Give up craving for recognition (and be admired for it)
  15. Notice when things have improved
  16. Go on holiday without leaving your bedroom
  17. Practice random acts of kindness (and, if time permits, senseless acts of beauty)
  18. Climb a mountain
  19. Turn your house into a restaurant
  20. Start a film society
  21. Remember that making mistakes is part of being human
  22. See the sun rise and set on a single summer's day
  23. Get fit without joining a gym
  24. Sit still until you see wildlife emerge
  25. Contact a friend you haven't spoken to for years
  26. Go cloud-spotting
  27. Learn to meditate
  28. Volunteer for something
  29. Spend a day and night in a forest
  30. Cherish older people
  31. Reconsider your career
  32. Enlarge your comfort zone
  33. Achieve your ideal weight
  34. Learn how to talk to strangers in public
  35. Visit Project Gutenberg
  36. Gather a meal from the wild
  37. Learn another language
  38. Invent a language
  39. Pretend you are a valet for humanity
  40. Go busking
  41. Start a book in which to record things that have really, really made you laugh
  42. Go somewhere outdoors that is very silent
  43. Make Christmas presents for your whole family one year
  44. Give something up
  45. Cheer up lonely men in public places
  46. Swap your CDs
  47. Adopt or invent a personal motto
  48. Support your local eccentric
  49. Become a freegan
  50. Swim in the sea
  51. Get to know your neighbours
  1. Act without expecting anything back
  2. Deliver meals on wheels
  3. Look for glue
  4. Send a message in a bottle
  5. Have an eco-friendly bonfire
  6. Attempt a world record
  7. Walk in the rain
  8. Give away free trees
  9. Do a sponsored parachute/bungee jump
  10. Perform
  11. Cycle 100 miles in a day
  12. Serenade someone
  13. Reflect on something you're grateful for
  14. Cook and eat a nine-course meal
  15. Write a love letter
  16. Create a lair
  17. Notice beauty
  18. Let go of emotional pain
  19. Write down your parents' or grandparents' stories
  20. Look at your day-to-day concerns from the point of view of five years from now
  21. Fan the flames of desire
  22. Contemplate imperfection and impermanence as forms of beauty
  23. Join a gardening scheme where only your labour is required
  24. Laugh in the face of death
  25. Train your memory
  26. Accept the full catastrophe
  27. Write the first sentence of a novel
  28. Cherish solitude (Sister Wendy does)
  29. Get your friends to sponsor you to go to Spain and celebrate La Tomatina
  30. Embarrass your children/teenagers
  31. Work a room
  32. Confront people politely
  33. Learn a trick
  34. Be a representative of your country, in your country
  35. Try lucid dreaming
  36. Come to terms with ageing
  37. Be a bookcrosser
  38. Teach a child something fun
  39. Make your gratitude less perfunctory
  40. Give away your superfluous possessions
  41. Grow huge sunflowers
  42. Smile
  43. Go bell-ringing
  44. Form a debating club
  45. Take your shoes off and walk in the dew on a sunny morning
  46. Dress up
  47. Give up your TV
  48. Be 'Lord' for a day
  49. Write fewer emails and more letters
  50. Don't expect that things will be different in Tenerife
  51. Find out what's happening near you and join in

So, now 43 done, and a reduction to only three nevers... So am I happier?

No. But not being happier is not the same as being sadder, or even sad. And I am different. That's the important thing here, I think.

Are you happy? What makes that so?


  1. Wow, what a brilliant and inspiring idea and list to get us thinking.... love this kind of thing. Will have to pore over it in more detail later, but think I need to print it off and get the red and green highlighters out in readiness too. I can definitely see how doing these things can make one different, help us to tweak our thinking and responses to life for the better incrementally - which is surely what human existence is all about. Feeling happier being a bonus. Interesting to see that some of the things here are ones I do naturally, whereas others would take me right out of my comfort zone.

    1. I was quite enamoured of the book at the time. I'm a little more cynical about it now (partly because of thisepisode of Family Guy, which neatly harpoons such books). But yes, it's the ideas that take you out of your comfort zone that are the most interesting/challenging/discomfiting.

  2. Swap your CDs for what? Eternal life? Peace on earth? The assassination of Trump? To save Morrissey's soul?

  3. Yes, funny that the more I took in of this list the less I liked some of the suggestions. Others are great, very inspiring, but on analysing them I'd do them because I'd want to do them anyway, and would just need a push. A bit like NY Resolutions really, you'll only ever do what you really want to do - not what you, or others, think you oughta (hence I never make them!)

    As a curious soul, though, I'd be intrigued to know more about your experiences of some of these. E.g. Bell-ringing / Sending a message in a bottle / Learning a trick. So if you ever fancy posting about them.....