As part of the Post-it Brand’s ‘Make It Happen‘ campaign I was asked to comment on a recent study about the secret to happiness.
I say secret, apparently you just need to earn £80,840 a year, live in a £443,000 four bedroom house, be healthy, married with two children, and work a twenty-seven hour week.
So who better to ask than a bankrupt divorcee, living in a northern two-bed terrace, with questionable physical/mental health and who earns precisely £80,840 a year less than the ideal.
It’s no wonder I’m so grumpy in the morning. It’s a miracle I get out of bed. OK, so a kazoo-tooting four-year old’s dribble in my ear may have something to do with it. And my forty-year old bladder. And being a stay-at-home dad apparently means I’m responsible for the school run … but apart from that …
There must be something I can pin my happiness too …
“Money is the biggest barrier to achieving life goals (46%) followed by age (34%) and a lack of determination or bravery (25%)”
Dear God, it gets worse. ‘Poor, old and lazy’ is the working title of my memoirs.
Do you know, before reading this report I thought I was quite happy, but maybe I just have delusions of happiness; there’s definitely a manic edge to my smile that wasn’t there before the kids arrived.
It could just be I’m high on a lack of sleep, in which case I should be careful what I wish for as a full night uninterrupted could bring my whole world crashing down!
Or maybe it’s something else … I’ll read on …
“The average man wants a wife who is three years, six months younger than him”.
And there it is. Janet is the reason I’m happy. Damn it, she was right. I’ll be honest, I had this down as a negative on account of her being the more likely benefactor of our life insurance.
“62% believe the health, wealth and happiness of their loved one contributes more to an ideal life than their own health, wealth and happiness”.
Now I feel guilty, I take back what I said about the life insurance.
“You should never give up on your dreams. Just be prepared to modify them, and continue to keep them at the forefront of your mind as life throws you different paths and challenges.
A combination of positive thinking and plenty of support from friends and family can really help you get that bit closer to your goals.”
Now I admit I’m a reluctant convert to the positive message.
Not the inspirational quotes that flood my social media on a Monday morning, printed on a badly photocopied picture of a dolphin jumping through a rainbow. I like to think the people who post those are crying into their cereal as they hit send; but something more personal definitely has its place.
After my breakdown my big sister sent me a box of marbles with my name on. They’re a daily reminder that despite everything I went through I still have some of mine left, rattling around my head and desk.
Not the ‘kingy’ mind, the boys lost that under the sofa (now there’s a metaphor if ever there was one).
And when I decided to study for a degree last year, my little sister wrote this on the opening page of the notebook she bought me,
I see that every day when I sit down to study, and despite my morning mutterings of misery it does make me smile and keep me motivated. Well, that and the thought of my student loan.
“Be brave,” says Katie. “Set some small, achievable goals to aim for, and go for them. Don’t give up. Anything is possible.”
I set myself goals at the start of every week. By Wednesday they’ve gotten smaller and in theory more achievable. On Friday I’m adding goals I achieved the previous week, just so I can cross something off my list.
This sit down and cup of coffee I’m having right now was justified off the back of the windows I washed … in February …
But despite my grumblings to the contrary I am happy. Very happy.
I have my (suspiciously well insured) health. I have Janet and our beautiful boys. I love being a stay-at-home dad and feel blessed to have the opportunity to share in so much of their early years.
But there’s also the smaller things that make me smile.
The excitement in Sonny’s voice when he told me he’d won a prize for sitting nicely in assembly.
The two free poppadoms in last nights takeaway, or when I saw a bodybuilder lambasting his poodle puppy for its poo being too runny. I’m easily amused.
I also have goals. Clearly defined goals. To get the degree I intended to have twenty years ago. To start a new career path based on choice rather than circumstance. To ensure the boys reach their full potential, follow their dreams, and god willing, pay for my retirement.
And in the shorter term I have these …
And if I achieve these I’m going to go for the big one…..
Convincing the boys that we might, possibly, just maybe think about taking some of their drawings off the dining room wall.
We can but live in hope.
For more information on the Post-it ‘Make It Happen’ campaign, visit www.makeithappen.post-it.co.uk, or search for #makeithappen @PostItUK.