Happy talk

Happiness, huh? Totally overrated if you ask me. Truth told, I’m a crabbit old cow.

My natural state of grump has been embedded even more deeply lately by the omnipresence of the happiness industry. Even a cursory glance through certain social media platforms or a skim of the self-help section in your local bookshop confirms our apparently limitless search for true happiness. And don’t even get me started on the sheer number of wellbeing gurus spreading their beatific promises of eternal bliss. It’s enough to put you in a really, really bad mood.

Actually, my own grizzle isn’t in evidence all of the time, hell no – I feel positively cheery, occasionally. I too can bathe in the warm fuzz of contentment. There’s nothing I like better than laughing my heid aff, and I absolutely adore the endorphin rush of euphoria – but I also love a good moan, and wallowing in a certain Glaswegian gloom. I’m definitely a sunshine and showers kinda gal. What’s more, I’m happy to go with the mood flow – I don’t expect or even aspire to be in a permanent state of zen-like positivity. Simply put, I don’t expect happiness on tap. I’m neither a glass half-empty nor a half-full person, I’m usually just glad to have a bloody glass.

I’m always slightly amazed that some folk are just built to be cheery 24/7. Their relentless positivity is both admirable and a royal pain in the arse. However, my lifelong observation of the human condition suggests that those shiny, happy people are very much in the minority. For the rest of us, happiness is a transient state of mind, as changeable as a Scottish weather system. Yes, we can all do stuff to help ourselves feel uplifted emotionally, we can even shift an entrenched miserablist mindset, but we definitely do not need to feel ecstatic all day and all of the night. That said, if you put in the practice, you can learn to flick the switch on to full beam even when you feel only a faint glimmer of good vibration. And believe me, if you run your own business you’ll have to do a lot of switch-flicking.

Currently, happiness is big business, but despite the exhortations of the happiness fraternity to work towards a permanent sunshine state of mind, I smell snake-oil. Aspiring to ongoing feel-good seems like a hell of a big ask. I’m not suggesting that we’re permanently plunged into the depths of despair, or that we aim for nothing more than miserable little existences, but I’ve got more head space for those mental health campaigners who remind us that it’s fine not to feel fine.

Turning one’s back on happiness would be obtuse, and plain daft, but I’m a great believer in setting achievable goals. Perhaps what matters most is taking the time to notice the good stuff, and sadly, we modern westerners are not too hot at slowing down to smell the coffee, the sweetly scented spring air, or the neck of a loved one. But notice we must.

In between whinging and moaning, I’m completely up for finding happiness in the small stuff, or in magic moments. So when those moments come along, breathe deep, smell that freshly ground coffee, fill your boots, open your heart, count yourself lucky, and smile. Happy days, indeed.