By Marian Connor

I was thinking about happy, happy and sad, probably because I am writing a presentation about allowing more happy into our lives. I am conscious that many of us believe that happiness is either on or off, it’s either all singing all dancing, happy or just plain sad or perhaps bored. I don’t believe this to be true.

We are complex beings made up of many contradictions, the duality we carry within means we are not either, or, one thing, or another, we encompass all those subtleties in between.

Not feeling happy in the way our culture would encourage us to be, doesn’t mean we are the opposite, although when we do feel sad we should not ignore it, pretend it isn’t there or substitute it in a mad dash back to the happy road. All our emotions have value. We would just rather live with some in preference to others. Sadness and melancholy need to be acknowledged and observed. When we familiarise ourselves with them and recognise when they occur, we may be able to encounter them less frequently.

We know happiness is preferable to misery but life naturally undulates between ups and downs, it isn’t a monochrome existence, if we never experienced darkness, it is harder to appreciate the light.

Nevertheless it is important that we set ourselves up to experience as much happy as possible, it requires a little effort unlike sad which I have always found takes care of itself.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Rumi – Persian Poet and Theologian 1207-1273

One way to encourage happy is to take time to appreciate the little things in life that bring moments of pleasure. The more things we take pleasure in the more pleasurable our lives will be.

“Happiness is a habit, cultivate it.”

Elbert Hubbard – Writer, Artist and Philosopher 1856-1915

It is a mistake to think small stuff doesn’t matter, if it’s not bells and whistles happy it doesn’t count. There are a million shades of happy and sad. We sometimes find it hard to recognise them, perhaps partly because we aren’t encouraged to celebrate the little bits of sparkle in our day, even though they add up to something much more than the sum of their parts. And partly because we don’t have the language to describe them.

Here are some small things people take pleasure in:



English is a beautifully descriptive language but it lacks in certain words to describe the subtleties of feelings we all have, that other languages give a name to.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Lagom (Swedish) meaning ‘the perfect amount’.

Gigil (Filipino) – The uncontrollable desire to squeeze or pinch something cute.

Gökottameans (Swedish) – waking up early with the purpose of going outside to hear the first birds sing.

Ukiyo (Japanese) – a sense of living in moments of fleeting beauty, detached from the pains of life.

Tarab (Arabic) – Musically-induced ecstasy or enchantment. The feeling you get when your favourite song comes on the radio, and you turn the volume all the way up.

I hope that when you feel ‘feierabend’ you want to ‘mbukimvuki.’

Feierabend (German) — the festive mood that arrives at the end of a working day.

Mbukimvuki (Bantu) — to take off one’s clothes in order to dance.


Image Tile/Header – Lagom (Swedish) meaning ‘the perfect amount’ – by 8 in the Universe

YouTube – The Small Pleasures by The School of Life-duration- 00:01:32

YouTube – Life’s Simple Pleasures by Campbell Salgado Studio- duration- 00:03:52

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Photo of Marian Connor and black text saying "Always looking over the horizon to discover treasures to share. Often times whilst partaking of a fine red."