Now that The Happiness List is out in the wild, I thought it was high time that I had a go at drawing up my own happiness list. You’d think this would be straightforward but heavens to Betsy, it was difficult. It would have been so easy to just list all my favourite foods but then which one for top spot – chocolate or cheese? Impossible. I’ve done my very best and have written it in reverse order so that you can read it like they used to do on the chart show. You’re welcome.
- German and Germany
This may seem an odd choice but I did a degree in German and spent one of the happiest years of my life living in Munich. For the record, they really do have an excellent sense of humour – it’s just that it’s even drier than ours so we don’t always get it.
Bristol is cool. It’s how London could be if it were smaller, friendlier and stopped taking itself so seriously. I went to university in Bristol and all my best friends live there still. There are so many reasons why Bristol makes my happiness list but the main one is the way that whenever someone gets off a bus in Bristol, they say ‘Cheers drive’ in a chipper south-west accent.
- Southwold in Suffolk
I have been going here on holiday for my whole life. I went there before the rich people invaded and brought artisan coffee and branches of Jack Wills. It’s the huge skies, the sea-salt breezes and whole days with the kids on the beach which make it my ultimate happy place.
It’s taken me over forty years to fully appreciate the fact that I actually get something out of exercise. It’s restorative and stops me thinking about everything else for a while. I have tried and failed with various forms of exercise. I hated running and failed at football but I appreciate the healing powers of swimming and I love tennis.
- My Garden
Regular observers of my Twitter feed will know how much I love my garden. When we moved to our house nearly four years ago, it was a scrappy patch of scrubland filled with buried bottles and sweet wrappers. Now we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, blackcurrants, garlic, runner beans, and lettuces to say nothing of salvia, achillea, rudbeckia and crocosmia. I even watch Gardeners’ World and follow Nigel the Dog on Twitter. I never knew middle-age could be this good.
To be honest, I’m amazed this isn’t at number one because I am essential 75% caffeine. It fuels me but also defines a lot of my social interactions. I am rarely happier than when I’m meeting someone for a coffee. Preferably a Flat White with a lovely almond biscotti on the side.
- Singing with my choir
In our house, the debate about whether books or music is better rages on (click here for the post I wrote on this subject last year: Ten Reasons Why I Love My Choir). My husband couldn’t live without music, whereas I favour books. It’s therefore fortunate that we’re allowed to have both. As I’ve said before, singing with my choir is one of the most sublime feelings for me. In fact, I love this so much, I wrote a book about it.
- Books and writing
I have spent a lifetime reading, selling and writing books so it’s no big surprise that it makes my top three. True, I have bad writing days but then everyone has a rubbish day at work. However, I never tire of reading, discovering and talking about books. They are quite simply the best thing you can own – they furnish your life and feed your soul. I can’t think of anything better than that.
If books are the building blocks of my life, comedy is the foundation. From the moment my dad bought me a copy of, ‘The Ha, Ha, Bonk Book, I knew that making people laugh and sharing in that laughter is a truly wonderful thing. Victoria Wood will always be the queen for me but we are living in an absolute golden age for comedy with the likes of Sarah Millican, Katherine Ryan and Roisin Conaghty. I know from experience that when life gets tough (and heaven help us, it’s tough at the moment), finding the funny side gets you through.
There’s no-one in life who has the capacity to annoy me more than my family but there’s also no-one who loves me more. My husband, the teenager and the small boy (not the cat) are the three morons who make me truly happy. If they’re okay, I’m okay. All is well. Happiness is assured.
I would love to hear what’s on your happiness list – tweet me @1AnnieLyons using #MyHappinessList or leave a comment below.