Looking on the Bright Side…

Yesterday I wrote an article in which I discussed a couple of things that piss me off. I realised that i had rather ‘gone off on one’ so called it a day after only talking about three things. Believe me, I could still be writing that list. I’ll probably go back to it at some point and add more bits and pieces, but today i thought I’d try and balance the scales a little by writing about things that make me happy.

As you’d expect from a depressive, this isn’t going to be as long a list. In fact, I suspect it will be much, much harder to write, but hopefully some of the things that give me pleasure will bring a smile to your faces as well. So let’s start with a picture:

Seth Casteel's awesome underwater dog photography

I challenge anyone with a soul to look into that dog’s eyes and not feel just a little happier. You can see lots more of Seth Casteel’s amazing photography at www.littlefriendsphoto.com. Seriously, if you’re down, go and have a look. You will be smiling by the end of it. Dogs in general make me happy anyway, especially when they are displaying that special joy of just being alive. A dog running about, or playing with a ball, actually lifts my cynical, calloused soul into something approaching happiness. I freely admit to being a totally soppy bastard when it comes to dogs, although bigger dogs are much nicer than little rat-type things in my opinion.

Next on the list are lizards. I know, lizards aren’t necessarily what you’d call cute, but they are kind of cool. Take a look at what I mean:

"I'm watching you."

It is difficult not to anthropomorphise animals at the best of times, but a photo like this makes it next to impossible. That lizard is clearly smiling! Why is he happy? What does he know? And why does it make me smile when I see it? I’m a rational man in his mid-thirties, there is no way I should be swayed by an image like this, but if this was an advert I’d definitely be buying that product. Silly, isn’t it? Whenever I go into a pet shop (which is more often than you’d think, considering that I don’t have any pets) I always make a bee-line for the lizards. I have been considering buying one for a long time, but my fiancée really isn’t keen! So it remains an unfulfilled dream.

Next up, reading. Well, obviously. I love getting lost in a good story. It doesn’t even have to be that well written, just a good story is enough to keep me happy. Currently at the top of my list are The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, the Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman (as well as American Gods, Anansi Boys and Neverwhere by the same author), the Space Captain Smith series by Toby Frost (and if ubermunchkin is reading this, I want them back, damn you! ;)), the Dexter novels by Jeff Lindsay and others too numerous to mention. I tend to have several books on the go at any one time and chew through them at a slightly annoying rate. It costs a fortune…

Ok, moving on, I also get happiness from intelligent comedy. My all-time favourite television programme is the BBCs QI, hosted by Stephen Fry. If you haven’t seen the show, check it out on youtube. It’s brilliant. The concept is that of a quiz show, except that the questions are insanely difficult, because they generally appear to be things that everyone knows. However, the show hinges on the fact that what everyone knows is usually wrong.

QI host Stephen Fry with regular panellist Alan Davies

Points are awarded for correct answers (obviously) but more often for just being interesting or funny, and obvious answers are penalised. That’s the theory anyway. In reality, the scoring system is so arcane and (possibly) random, not even the guests understand how they achieved the scores that they did. It is fairly common for every panellist to end the show with a negative score, and not unheard of for an episode to be won by the audience! The other thing about QI is that it turns you into the most annoying pedant in the world. You become the sort of person who points out that people used to believe that Saturn’s rings were formed from Jesus’ foreskin, or Henry VIII technically only had two wives (or possibly three. Maybe four. But definitely not six), or that the sun has already set when the bottom of it touches the horizon (because of the light-bending properties of the atmosphere). I can watch it over and over again, and frequently do.

Because I enjoy science-fiction, the idea of concept vehicles fascinate me. It is slightly depressing that none of these incredible machines ever make it into production, but it is fun to look through a bunch of photos of them. Here are a couple for your delectation:

A Moto-Guzzi concept bike

A Cadillac concept car

I like cars and bikes. Not in a ‘This model produces nearly 500bhp per tonne and a top speed of blah blah blah’, but more in a ‘Wow, that looks really cool’ kind of a way. Yep, I really am that shallow! I watch Top Gear mainly for the outrageous challenges and Clarkson’s latest bout of racist/sexist/anythingelseist logorrhea, but I do like admiring the shape of the vehicles on display. I just couldn’t care less about lap times and so on.

Finally, the thing that gives me most happiness is simply this: Friends and family. A little cheesy, perhaps, but true. I, like most people, enjoy spending time with people that I respect. I don’t have to agree with them all the time, in fact friendly arguments can be hugely entertaining (one argument concerning the veracity of claims that Deckard from Blade Runner is a replicant [SPOILER: HE IS!] has been running for a good fifteen years). Just taking time to chat and relax with friends is a source of proper joy.

Most of all, though, my fiancée makes me happy. She is loving and caring (probably far more so than I deserve!), with all the common sense and forward planning that I lack. She is gorgeous and I love her very much. She makes me happy and I want to make her happy in return.

So on that rather soppy note, I’ll finish up with a question: What makes you happy?

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8 responses to “Looking on the Bright Side…

  1. That’s lovely. My partner, dancing, good food, nice clothes, making things, playing intelligent RPG or strategic video games, reading books, satirical comedy and spending times with friends.

  2. Friends and family, definitely up there on the happiness scale!! Love my friends and family.

    Getting some free time to myself without any responsibilities hanging over me, that makes me happy.

    Cats, kittens and other feline friends, awww, happy.

    Getting a new computer game, that’s a good one. Short lived, but good.

    Working makes me happy, I love all of my many jobs!

    Other happiness inducing things include sun shining through my bedroom window, really heavy rain and thunderstorms at night with the window open whilst being tucked up warm, mild breezes on hot days, bird song, the smells of trees, cut grass, coffee, fresh bread, strawberries and the sea.

    Ahhh, happy.

  3. Hooray for love and general bright feelings!
    Pretty samey, family, friends, writing, reading, singing to my food while I cook it.

  4. Music and dancing. Truly the only time I feel totally calm, and deeply contented is when i’m dancing. Nothing and noone can touch me or bring me down if the tune is good and i have some space. Don’t even have to be high so much anymore.

    So – what is the difference between feeling happy and feeling contented. Which matters more/less/at all?

    Happiness is very hard for me to pin down. I can define it by not being sad, or angry or worried. But when I am content, no fucker can get me or my brain down.

    Much love x

  5. It’s funny that everyone says family and friends but it’s so true! I dont think I’ve had a better time than my wedding and (although marrying my husband made me, and has continued to make me every day, very happy!!!) it wasn’t the actual wedding bit enjoyed – rather it was the fact that I had almost every single person in the world that I love in one place! It was amazing! I remember dancing, on my own, in circles in the middle of the dance floor to ‘I could have danced all night’ (yes from My Fair Lady!) and feeling happier than I’ve ever felt!
    My job also makes me very happy! I love teaching! As corny as it sounds, I really do care about the kids I teach as if they were my own and to see them achieve is wonderful!
    Food! I love food!
    The days when my husband (who has ME) feels well 🙂
    Children. I’ve not been lucky enough to have any of my own just yet but being with other people’s makes me very happy! Hugs from my goddaughter and young cousins calm everything else in the world and remind me how simple everything should be!
    Music! Bliss!
    Reading your blog 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
    E xxx

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