What makes you happy?
It’s January so it must be time for some new year’s resolutions: we should lose weight, eat more vegetables and less chocolate, do more exercise, spend less time on social media, drink less, learn a new language, take up carpentry…. But what if, instead of concentrating on the things that we want to improve about ourselves, we take time to think about what makes us happy?
January 18th 2021 is Blue Monday, so called because it is considered to be the gloomiest day of the year. Like many of these days, Blue Monday was motivated by commerce: in 2004 Sky Travel asked psychologist Cliff Arnall to come up with the ideal date to book a summer holiday. Taking into consideration a combination of factors such as financial pressure after Christmas, failing new year’s resolutions and miserable weather, Arnall produced a formula and, hey presto, Blue Monday was born. According to this article in The Independent, “Arnall has since confessed that the formula is essentially pseudoscience and has urged Brits to “refute the whole notion” of Blue Monday.”
But pseudoscience or not, who can say that they’re not feeling gloomy this January? Who would have thought back in March when we faced lockdown 1 that we’d still be living with this 10 months later? Fears about health, worries about jobs, finance and the economy, concerns about our children’s education are all present in our minds, fuelled by alarming headlines and whipped-up social media posts.
On a more personal level we are all missing spending time with the people we love and doing the things that we now realise we took for granted. Little things like grabbing a coffee with a friend we bump into in the street, taking the children to see their grandparents where they’d be greeted with big hugs and kisses, getting together for a curry, heading off for the weekend to stay with friends, watching a film or play in a packed cinema or theatre.
For many older people here in Moretonhampstead on Dartmoor, especially those living alone, it was the weekly coffee morning: a cup of coffee, a custard cream, a raffle ticket, but most of all a good chat with friends in the warm and cosy Community Club. And for most children and young people, not being able to go to school or take part in clubs or other group activities means that they miss their friends and their ability to do things without mum and dad.
Knead to Connect was created to bring people together to cook and eat in order to reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing. Everything that we set up to do was centred around good food and good company: spending time with others while enjoying a meal or learning to cook. Like many social enterprises, we’ve had to have a rethink. While we can’t come together, we still know that food has an incredible power to create connections.
Our Tiffin Tin Teas are proof of this. Delivered to people in their homes, beautifully presented and full of delicious food, they show people that we are thinking of them and that they are part of a community. They may be eating their tea alone or in their support bubble, but the fact that tens of others nearby are doing the same thing that afternoon creates a connection. Each recipient of the Tiffin Tin Tea has a postcard to write back to us to tell us how they are, how they enjoyed the tea and if there is anything else we can do to help. We know from the cards that the tea brought happiness to many. The December tea coincided with the first local Covid vaccinations and one local resident said “I had a wonderful day: went by minibus to have my vaccine, saw lots of friends there and then came back to have your lovely tea.” Who’d have imagined that getting a jab would become the highlight of someone’s week?
The feedback from the tea got us thinking: it’s a fairly simple gesture – nice food in a tin delivered to your door – and yet it had real power to bring happiness. What other small things make people happy?
With this in mind, we would like to invite you to join us in our campaign to Spread a Little Happiness. Starting on Blue Monday (18th January) and continuing until 20th March which is the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness, we want to know what makes you happy. We’re not talking about fancy holidays or lottery wins; we’re interested in the little things in everyday life that bring you joy.
We’ve decided to focus on the senses and we’re asking:
What does happiness sound like? What songs, music and sounds are guaranteed to make you happy? We’ll be putting together a playlist and we’d love to see some pavement performances and window warbling.
What does happiness taste like? What food always makes you smile? We want your happy recipes and want you to try others too! We’ll have a recipe board in Zero Waste where you can share your recipe and take pictures of others. Send us pictures of your efforts (see below for all the details on how).
What does happiness look like? What photo or other image raises your spirits when you look at it? Holiday snaps, children’s drawings, great works of art….. Share them, tell us why they’re special and we’ll create a virtual exhibition until we are able to hold a real one!
What does happiness feel like and how can we share it? This is your chance to spread a little happiness. We want everyone to think about small gestures that they can do to make others happy and try to do one every day for a week. Maybe you could send a postcard to someone you haven’t seen for a while, make a phone call, leave flowers for a neighbour, make a cake….. Tell us what you or others have done to spread a little happiness and how it made you feel.
Back in October when we started planning this campaign, we optimistically scheduled several social events as part of the project and clearly these are very unlikely to take place, but that is not going to stop us in our quest! There will be plenty of ways for you to get involved and for this and more information on what’s happening you can:
- join the Knead to Connect Spread a Little Happiness Facebook group here
- complete our contact form for email updates
- check our website
- look out for posters around Moretonhampstead
- check for information dropping through your door (if you live in Moretonampstead)
So, join us to Spread a Little Happiness and in the meantime, I’ll finish this first blog with a quote from someone whose ability to see positivity in the darkest of times is always humbling