It’s the decade of mindfulness, let’s face it! And it’s a good thing that being happy has become so trendy –and that it is here to stay. Said like this, it sounds like a joke, after centuries of pursuing what we haven’t concluded yet happiness is supposed to be. But I think we can all agree that nowadays there’s been a tiny change, a little sparkle somewhere that has made people come together towards a new definition of happiness. One that really is about understanding ourselves, one that moves past two-dimensionality and shallowness. Most importantly, one that seems to come together with a manual! At the heart of this new (new?) philosophy we find a set of practices that have altogether been labeled as mindfulness.
I am sure you all have heard of learning to know and accept yourself, being openly thankful to those around you, decluttering your home, or developing your creativity. This brings me directly to what I wanted to share with you today. Although we do not need material goods to practice mindfulness, some creative minds out there have seen an opportunity for business, and have actually made something nice out of it! I’m talking about the great deal of notebooks, or diaries, that are available out there to help us boost our creativity, productivity, or raise our self-awareness. I call these “tools for happiness“, and they vary widely in their goals and proceedings -some of them, for instance, are designed to help you get your dream ideas together and work them out in a professional business plan, some others are designed to get you to participate in daily rituals that will slowly make you befriend every version of you.
I own two “tools for happiness”. I consider to have made a remarkably low money investment in these, especially if you take into account how long I will be enjoying them. The first is “One line a day”, by Chronicle Books (check it out here, but you can also find it on Amazon). What you see is what you get. This simple, yet stylish, book has the exact space to write one little paragraph -no more, no less- every day over the course of five years. This the perfect diary for everybody who simply can’t keep a diary: it takes less than 5 minutes a day! To be perfectly honest, I have a tendency to write quite banal stuff, because I feel that I cannot get all the emotions of the day summarized and squeezed into one paragraph, but from here stem two observations: a) perhaps this is also a good exercise to learn to express more with less words (would be totally useful for work!), and b) it is still quite fun to go back and read what you have done everyday. These small sentences can serve as cues to access a whole network of memories in our mind. So, seen this way, this diary is like a magic portal.The second book that makes me very happy is “642 things to write about”, by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto (check it out here). I just love it! The funny thing about this book is that my friends gave it to me at my birthday party this year, however I had already bought it. While that was sad, it was a good proof of how well they know me 😉 Anyways, back to the book, I find it is the perfect tool to boost creative writing. The book asks you questions or gives you suggestions to write about in each page. For instance, and just not to spoil a lot, the first pages of the book contain cues to get started such as “What can happen in a second”, “You are an astronaut. Describe your day”, or “What a character holding a blue object is thinking right now”.
I think I went through three stages with this book: 1. amazement at all the possibilities it offers, 2. Writers’ block, and 3. Letting go and start writing. Once you write a story, you just want to write another one, and another one… Creativity is contagious!
What about you? Do you have a favourite “tool for happiness” too? Drop me a line!
Lots of love, Ingrid.