Not about Ken Dodd

To me this world is a wonderful place
And I’m the luckiest human in the whole human race
I’ve got no silver and I’ve got no gold
But I’ve got happiness in my soul

Happiness to me is an ocean tide
Or a sunset fading on a mountain side
A big old heaven full of stars up above
When I’m in the arms of the one I love

Happiness is a funny old thing, isn’t it? I would never describe myself as being happy. I see myself as content — and very much so. I have little, but I need less and I am grateful for what I do have. No, not grateful. I think I feel gratitude even less than I do happiness. Thankful? Whatever – I appreciate the things and the folks that I have in mylife. I appreciate where I have come to rest at the end of my wanderings. I love my house and its place by the sea. I love my island life, and it’s slowness of pace. There is nothing that I would change, except…

Today I heard a happiness expert on the radio. There was a phone in. She asked people four simple questions and then gave them a happiness score based on their answers. I wondered what my answers would be if it were me on the end of that telephone line, and what my score might be.

What single change in my life would make me a happier person?

I do not have a clue. My needs are met. I have my mate, a roof over our heads (OK, and a mortgage – a less than perfect situation I suppose but many people have far less than that), sufficient to eat (more than — just look at the size of me), and clothes enough to keep the wind and the rain out. I have my furry pals: Teddy and Treacle the Bengal cats and Nell, Suzie and Griff the collie dogs. My husband works from home. I never lack for company. I have my spinning wheel, my knitting needles, my computer, my workroom full of crafty “stuff” and my kitchen full of pans, pots and ingredients. I never lack for something creative to do, and thus I am never bored. If I feel the urge to learn, I have both the Internet and also people who are willing to share their skills and show me how to do new things.

It is a full and rich life. I need no changes. No additions, no takings away (maybe). What on earth could make me happier than the five minutes that I just spent in the garden with a dog and an owl, in absolute and perfect silence.

What would I do if all my money and material possessions were taken away. What would I have left?

That had me slightly worried for a while – I’d hate to lose my knitting needles or my spinning wheel. Thankfully she clarified and extended the question – if all the cars and holidays etc. were taken away, what would I have left? Well, you can’t take away what I do not have in the first place. We downsized and simplified a long time ago. We have a car. It’s over 15 years old, I believe — purchased second hand ten years ago. We use it infrequently (fill the tank 2 to 3 times a year) and would not find life insuperably challenging without it. Holidays, we do not have and do not need. Where could we go that would be better than here.

I would hate to lose my computer. I use it less and less as time passes by but I am wedded to it. It is an enabler. I learn through my computer and I use it to create with. It allows me to keep in touch with many friends – old ones, new ones, real ones and virtual. I’d feel the distance if I had to live here without my PC. I would miss people. I have always been a communicator and an information gatherer. Yes, I would be far less happy without my keyboard and screen but it is a material posession and I should feel able to let it go.  Ultimately, I would adjust.

If the matter were literal. If I lost everything I had. If all I had left at the end of today were the clothes that I stood up in, my husband, and my furries… well, I’d be fine. That’s not optimism speaking but experience. I’ve had to bootstrap my life on more than one occasion in the past and I’ve got to here — a place in my life where I am far more than OK. It gets harder as one  gets older, starting again, but it is never impossible — and so much easier with a loved one by one’s side, somebody to share the crisis with. I think I might even have to own up to the perversity of actually being somewhat happier when I am challenged… I do know that I am far more content since we downsized. If I had to start again with very little, well… I almost welcome that idea.  I do know that I could manage with fewer possessions than I have now, far fewer in fact – but please, I do want  needles and wheel. If the crisis is to be complete, can I at least have a drop spindle? I need to be occupied.

What is my first thought when I wake up in the morning.

Is that a happiness indicator? My first thought is always “what time is it?” followed by “is it time to get up yet?” and if it is, then my next thought is normally “what shall I cook for lunch today?” unless my train is interrupted and becomes more of a “blimey, Teddy, those claws are sharp!” or a “gerroffthebednell!”

I suppose that it is a good and positive sign that I don’t just think “OMG another day….”

How loved do you feel?

Truthfully? at the moment “not very.” That does not make me unhappy in itself. I have the intellectual knowledge that I am loved, even if my mate is unable to help me to feel it just now. You see, he is not happy. Not happy at all. That makes me sad,  for him and for me.

So, yes, perhaps I would change just the one thing. If I could wave a magic wand, I would enable my DH to see our life through my eyes. I’d half fill his half empty cup. I’d help him to a view that his life is blessed and wondrous and show him how lucky he is to have the job that he hates. If I could.

Is it the way that we are made that governs whether we are happy or not? Are some of us naturally glass half full, while the remainder are doomed to the prospect of imminent drought and thirst? How easy is it to get a new view on one’s glass? or are we just what we are, and unable to change that view?

Here’s a question? Are knitters generally half full? I have a feeling that they may well be. I find that knitting generates a sense of well being and comfort. The zen like nature of the art brings peace and calm. The technical skill gives a knowledge of control and the ability to clothe onseself and one’s loved ones come the apocalypse. It’s self sufficient. How can a knitter not have a positive view on their life?


  1. November 25, 2010

    That is so… complete!

  2. November 26, 2010

    I have green eyes of envy for what you have but because I love you I am less unhappy knowing that you have happiness.

    Is my glass half full or empty?
    Neither, it is simply 100% bigger than it needs to be.

    Special (very manly) {hugs} for Mr L. to make the work less hateful.

  3. Susan aka paintermom
    November 26, 2010

    I love what you wrote, Beth. I especially resonate with the part about wishing you could help your mate see things differently. My OH worries about money but over the years I have figured out that there really is not an amount of money big enough to take away his worry because the hole is really not about money. Unfortunately, he does not want to do the work to figure this out and move beyond it. I used to get angry about it but these days, I mostly wish he could see the abundance in our lives, not the scarcity.

  4. November 30, 2010

    Beth – this rang a real bell for me today, as I espied, on opening a magazine I have delivered, an article by an ‘ethical living expert’. I’m getting a bit sick of ‘experts’ these days – in my experience, usually plucked from the air and featured because they have a book to sell or a business to promote. Don’t get me wrong…good luck to their businesses and books, but very often the attribute of ‘expert’ is given on the strength of very little substance.
    Do we need an ‘expert’ to tell us if we are living ethically, or if we are happy? I would suggest that – on the evidence of your post – YOU, dear Beth are far more of an expert on both these topics than many who are promoted as such.
    My/our? parents certainly knew what ethical living was – didn’t need an expert to tell them – I would hope that their learning filtered down to me/us. As for happiness? I suspect their answer would have first been ‘bloody daft question’ – and perhaps they would not have even risked asking it too often as a personal enquiry, as the response in post War Britain might well have been ‘not often’…though if they looked from the perspective of 2010, I also suspect their answers – and mine – would be that they were happier with far, far less than is seen as an entitlement today.
    Thank you for illuminating the fact that happiness, gratitude, thankfulness and love are not permanent fixtures, but oscillate…they come, they go, they ebb, they flow, they change. From what I read, you appreciate the gifts that you do have in the moment, and express concerns about the ebb and flow of others lives as well as your own. I think that’s pretty special.
    Wake up at the back, now, all you who have fallen asleep!!
    (Hugs to Mr. L – that he find a more contented path in time – and Hugs to you, just because.)

  5. Shaaron Sellars
    December 27, 2010

    I just left you a comment on your SandaySpinners blog, but it’s truly a pleasure to find your blog again. Were you ever on SwapBot? Somehow, we had a brief correspondence a few years ago. I truly enjoy your projects, your art, your talent, your creativity and mostly, your ability. You touched me back then and you continue to do so now. It’s amazing to me, even at 48 and being tech-savvy, that I can sit in front of my Christmas tree in Atlanta, reading the blog of someone on Orkney, Scotland. You show me our lives are more similar than different, tied together by a love of knitting, creating and all things fiber. 🙂 Blessings for you in 2011 and I hope you had a lovely Christmas. I’ll follow you from afar-Cheers, Shaaron

    • January 1, 2011

      Yes, that is me – and you sent me one of the nicest swap parcels ever. Including some Mirasol yarn, beautiful buttons.. and the most useful wool needles ever (so good that I have since bought a second set!)

      It is god to see you here, Shaaron. Welcome

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