I’m getting ahead of myself here: This book post won’t be published until Thursday but I’m writing it on a sunny Monday morning. Doesn’t the sun have a marvellous impact on your feel-good-factor? There’s something about it makes me smile, and walk with a bounce rather than trodge into work, huddled down against the wind and (most likely) rain.
Feeling good, feeling happy, has been one of the best things I found about living hyggely. I think there’s two sides to that: I am less likely to look at things I cannot change and get wound up about them, because I can’t actually do anything about them and I’m more likely to look at the little things of life and feel happy to have them. It’s like a permanent state of gratitude. Warm cup of tea in the morning? Wow, thank you! Sunshine on the way to work? Mmm, thank goodness for that! Family party free from stress and with a lot of hygge going on? I’m so lucky that my family get together and get on. Small things, but the little lift of the spirits they each give is great. And that cumulative happiness sees me through the annoyances of life, like people talking through the quiet bit of The Greatest Showman (they were pretty loud all the way through, but I figured they should respect the quiet, emotional part: they obviously didn’t, when I asked them to keep it down and they got shirty and said “It’s the Sing-a-Long version, ****head.” I told them precisely, it was the sing-a-long, not the talk-through. They were quiet after that. I was uber polite, and didn’t lose my temper, just asked politely)
This week’s book is a good one for building your reserves of happiness. It’s beautifully practically named, 52 Lists For Happiness and is a book designed for weekly journalling for “positivity, balance and joy”.
Moorea Seal is an American designer and fashion curator whose lists books include The 52 Lists Project and the forth-coming 52 Lists For Togetherness. She started the 52 List Project on her blog in 2013 and has inspired thousands of people around the world to keep their own lists for happiness and resilience. Recognise the feeling, own the feeling, feel the feeling. Followers can use the #52listsproject on Instagram to share their own lists, and over 11,000 have. Her lists are, as she says herself, “not only fun for me but really ground me and make me feel more balanced, focused and fulfilled in who I am. When my depression and anxiety feel really strong, I turn to lists to feel more centered.”
I can appreciate that. When life gets overwhelming, making lists of the good things can really help. It’s that old-fashioned thing of counting your blessings. I think sometimes the modern world seems so fast, impersonal, so BIG, and making a list (however long or short) is such a centring thing. You have to think about it, write it, and then you always have it to look back on and re-feel.
52 Lists for Happiness is my journalling inspiration this year. I got it a couple of weeks ago, and I am still in the denial stage of having to write in it. At 22cm by 14cm and in a hardback cover, it’s a bit big for carrying around every day, but a good size for keeping next to your bed and using in the morning or evening when your brain is not quite awake.
The lists are divided into 4 sections: Reflect, Acknowledge, Invest and Transform. With 52 lists the intention must be to do one a week and have a year of happiness to consider and prioritise. Moorea writes that “You are the source of your own happiness, and with weekly practice we can make that happen together!” The lists aren’t seasonal, so picking up the book mid-year and starting straight away won’t leave you out of sync with the seasons, although the temptation to save it and start a new year afresh must be really strong.
List pages are a double-page spread, with lines and small, clean illustrations on. The whole book is illustrated with tasteful watercolour designs of pink, orange, yellow or a dark peachy shade. It’s not bright, not jarring, but calm and peaceful. Thanks must go to Julia Manchik for those, while Julia and Yuriy Manchik provide the photographs, mostly nature-based or beautifully staged table shots.
Each list also includes a Take Action box at the end. It could be read a favourite book, phone a friend, or start a Joy Jar, recording one thing a day that brings you joy. They’re not expensive, or hard things and act as a reminder to take the happiness off the page and into every day life.
With books like these, the aesthetic and feel of the book can make a big difference. 52 Lists for Happiness is beautifully bound, on good, thick paper that, I believe, would take a variety of ink and pens. Certainly, I used a Sharpie ultra-fine point and it didn’t bleed or leak through. Rose-gold foil details and a red velvet bookmark keep the luxe feel.
At just under £10, the book would also make a beautiful present for a friend. I’m looking forward to a year of happiness and the years of looking back on my happiness. My intention is to set aside 30 minutes every Saturday, before the rest of the house has risen and the noise sets in, to fill in the list and consider the action. With a cup of tea and the soft sound of Radio 4 in the background, it should give me a peaceful and positive way to open the weekend.
Talking of happiness, I’m nearing competion of my own book, Happier. It should be available to pre-order on Amazon soon. I’m not sure when full publication date will be, but you know I’ll let you know as soon as a decision has been made.
As usual, any books I mention and own on this post have been bought by me and are recommended because I think they are useful or good, rather than because I was given them and asked to write about them. If you purchase anything through the links on this page, I get a couple of pence extra per copy, and if you’ve already read my books and enjoyed them, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
My published books are all available from Amazon. How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the months ahead. Hygge is an all-year-round feeling, you see. 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. I’m currently working on my next book, (Ways to Be) Happier which I hope will be ready sometime during May this year.
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