How To Be Happier


How many of you have answered the question “What do you want from life?” with “I want to be happy”? Yeah, me too. I’ve read up on how to be happy many, many times and a few things have come up more than once so they must work, right? But too much of the time we tell ourselves we don’t have time to do any of these things or tell ourselves it’s too hard when in fact they should be on the top of our priority list. Reading things about how you can be happier is unhelpful if you don’t actually put it into practice.

Be Grateful. 

There are plenty of things to be grateful about in our lives but we live in such a consumerist society that a lot of what people are thinking is “want, want, want” instead of thinking about what they are thankful for. Remind yourself of what you are thankful for each and every day and you will be much happier. You will be so consumed in what you already have that you will think less about what you want but do not need. You can be thankful for living under a roof, having food, water (and coffee), family and the Internet(!). 

Gratitude is important. We’re all so caught up in our little bubbles and forget that we need to respect and appreciate each other. If you’re grateful for the things you already own and the things that you’ve done, and if you think about all the positive things in your life then there will be less room in your mind for negative things. But if you compare yourself to others too much, you can never truly be happy. You will envy people for what they have and you don’t. If you keep thinking and wishing for more, you will always be miserable and feel like there is something missing from your life.

Self-Love and Positive Affirmations.

You need to love yourself. You need to tell yourself every day that you love yourself. You can even do it in the mirror; look deep into your eyes and say “I love me” or “I love you” 10 times. Even if it feels silly or stupid at first, you need to tell it to yourself until you believe it. No one is perfect but you don’t need to dwell on your flaws all the time, just accept your flaws and be comfortable in your own skin. You will be living in the same body for the rest of your life, so you need to treat yourself with care and with love. You need to value yourself. When you love yourself, that’s when you realise that you don’t need anyone else to validate you. Validate yourself.

“Buy yourself flowers and take yourself to dinner.Quit waiting for another human to validate your existence.” – Zienab Hamdan – Be whole, all on your own.

Be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend. If your best friend was feeling hurt or sad, you’d give them advice and hug them and keep them thinking positively. Do the same for yourself. I know how bad I am at following my own advice but that’s what we need to do. Get in front of that mirror and tell your reflection what you love about yourself, turn your flaws into unique and special things about yourself that no-one else has. One day you will love yourself so much that you will not care about anyone else’s judgement or criticisms. They will not be able to push past your self-love barrier with their negativity. Fight them back with your strong mind and your strong heart. You can do this! Love the person you are instead of the person you aren’t, and give yourself credit for once.

Kindfulness

I’ve tried meditation and sometimes, it doesn’t work. The trouble is I can’t stop thinking. When I tell my mind to quieten, however much I try, I can’t. When you meditate, you are controlling your mind into doing something it does not want to do, and therefore it tries to escape and wanders off. But what if, instead of controlling your mind, you treated it as your best friend instead? Much like my previous point, you treat your mind with kindness and do what it wants to do. Sounds kind of strange but bear with me. When you practice mindfulness you are in fact controlling your mind to think a certain way or do a certain thing, so instead ask your mind what it wants to do rather than telling it what to do. A great app that I love using is Headspace because it brings your attention back to the body, and you don’t have to clear your mind of any thoughts, you can just be. You get 10 days free, for 10 minutes a day.

Stop being such a control freak to your own mind and treat it with the respect it deserves. The respect you deserve. Be kind to yourself and think kind thoughts. Treat everyone else kindly too and you will receive it back in abundance from others. If everyone treated everyone else kindly, the world would be a better place, and it can start with you. But in order to truly be kind to other, you need to be kind to yourself first. Your kindness will create a positive spiral of happiness in yourself, and you will start to think more positively with every new day.

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Why I Write


I write because I need to.

There are things I need to get off my chest that are easier to tell a blank page than they are to say to a real person. Crazy, huh? There are things that I can’t say to anyone I know. They don’t understand me. It’s nice to talk to a blank page because it doesn’t judge. I can erase what I type, or what I write down. But once you’ve said something to someone, you can’t take it back and they won’t forget it. Especially if it’s important. When I’m writing on here, I can say what I really feel, what I’m really thinking unlike speaking to someone you know, where you may have to conceal the truth or withhold information. If I didn’t write I’d prbably go insane. I can’t keep things bottled up anymore. I can express myself with written word a whole lot better than I can say the same words. My family have read a few of my blog psts, or I’ve read posts out to them, and they said I write better than I speak, which makes sense. I don’ really talk to my family about personal things, however weird that sounds. It’s just not like us. And I don’t mind it much but I wish we were a little closer so I could talk about thse things with them. But I can’t so I write them down.

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Some words are better said in silence.

There are things I need to write about which can never be said aloud especially to all the relevant people. I’m not very good at expressing or explaining my feelings but somehow I can write all about it. And I could write about them forever. My thoughts never come out clearly when I try to speak. It’s a tragedy in some cases but I guess, a miracle in others. I cannot tell people my feelings for fear of them rejecting me, hurting me, or humiliating me. If I told people how I really felt, I think I’d feel overwhelmingly vulnerable and out of place. I don’t like feleing vulnerable which is why, I think, I write my feelings down. I couldn’t stand it if people looked at me any differently. I like to keep their idea of me in check, and so I keep to myself, and bottle my thoughts up. I’ve never shared anything I’ve written with people I know, not the ones in which I pour my heart out anyway. Writing takes that possibility of being vulnerable away which is a good thing, for me because otherwise I would probably have a break down.

I write in an attempt to make sense of the world.

I’m figuring it all out on my own when mere thoughts in my head will not suffice. Thoughts are complicated and confusing. I’m scared of not writing and what it would do to me if I didn’t write. I can finally admit who I am whilst I’m writing, there are no pretences, no fake performances. I get to explore myself and what makes me, me. Everything is true and everything is raw. I started writing because it felt right. I wasn’t happy with life before writing; I had so many things that needed to be resolved and writing just puts everything in perspective, even if the words do come from my own head. When I write, I get to see the person I was and the person I’m becoming, and sometimes, the difference is remarkable. I’ve learned things over the years, things you can’t learn in school or from your parents and I put this knowledge into my writing in order to share it with everyone else.

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I am tired of the world.

I write beause I am tired of the world and how it treats its people. I’m tired of how people treat people, and writing, well, it helps me create a world in which I can live, in which everything is right when everything else seems impossibly wrong. My version of the world is of course, different to everyone else’s but the great thing about writing is that you can control your version. You can control how you perceive the world and how you think about the world. Writing helps me deal with the world and everything around me, things that are difficult and things that I don’t understand yet. I shouldn’t be tired of the world because I am still so young, but I am. I love writing. And that’s why I write. Because I want to. When I write, there’s no one putting thoughts into my head, it’s just me. It’s purely me, and that’s what I love about it. My thoughts cannot be tainted by anyone else, they can’t be dismissed and they can’t be judged by anyone. Real people don’t have the ability to be neutral about what you tell them. They always have their opinions and they will always want to share them. And I don’t want that to happen.

I don’t know what I’m thinking until I see what I’ve written.

I think that this is the purest thing about writing. You can write and write and not know what you are writing until you read it back to yourself. There must be a stage that is bypassed from my brain through to my hands, because the words just come flowing through my fingers and onto the screen. And I have no idea how it happens. Sometimes I type really fast because I want to get them down and out of my head, and of course I make typing errors, but the thoughts are still there, coherent as ever. I write with such a passion that I could never express to anyone else through speech. No one can explain what you are thinking better than you can yourself, but its like the path from my brain to my mouth is completely different to the path from my brain to my hands. I mean, anatomically, that’s obvious. But you know what I’m trying to say. It’s funny, when someone is passionate about what they are talking about out loud, they use their hands, gestures, to emphasise what they are saying. I think it’s the same with writing. Your hands just know what you are thinking. And so when I write, my thoughts come out clearer than day.

That is why I write.

EBooks or Print Books?


There is no friend as loyal as a book” – Ernest Hemingway

True. But what if that friend was an online friend? What if the person you thought was your friend turns out to be two-faced? Online friends can’t reveal their true selves to you unless you meet up with them in person – unless there is a physical copy there for you to believe they are who they say they are. You may think you know them… but you don’t. You don’t have that social support or that physical contact.

Wait… was I thinking out loud? Sorry. Seriously, though, I have a question for you; do you prefer EBooks or Print Books? I came across an article on Facebook a few days ago “14 Things Only People Who Adore Print Books Will Understand” and it made me love print books even more. I’ll tell you why. But considering I’ve never read a single EBook, I’m probably being biased.

They are low maintenance. You don’t have to do anything to them but open them on the page you left off and you’re away. They don’t crash and they don’t get viruses. You can read for hours on end without having to reposition yourself near a plug socket because they have no batteries and you don’t have to charge them. You can stay put in your comfy spot with your tea staring out the window… if you wanted. But that’s just preference. Do you think your e-book will be readable in say, 50 years? Your copy of Catcher in the Rye will be. Imagine going into a library with your Kindle, you know because libraries have great atmospheres and your Kindle suddenly decides to shut down because it has run out of battery. Unless you have your charger with you, you can’t read from your Kindle. So all you can do is pick a book from all the thousands of books around you just like everybody else.

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The classic book smell. Duh. Don’t you just love picking up an old or new book and smelling its pages? It reminds you of all good things in life. E-readers can’t replicate that. Plus it looks weird if you start smelling your Kindle. I haven’t read a book in a couple of months so I literally just went up to my bookshelf and picked the first book I saw and smelt it. Don’t tell anyone I did that. But it just smelt so good. There is actually a scientific reason why most people love the smell of books. Barnes and Noble said “books are made up of paper, adhesive, and ink. When these materials degrade over time, they give off organic volatile compounds, which in turn produce a smell that’s appealing to readers. The reason the smell is so appealing may be because it has a hint of vanilla. The scientific explanation for the vanilla-ish scent is that almost all wood-based paper contains lignin, which is closely related to vanillin.” So there you have it, B&N have spoken. Nothing smells like that; it’s like an addiction.

Books come in all shapes and sizes. Kindles and other e-readers do not. It feels more like an achievement when you read a print book, you feel prouder. Especially when you see the left side getting thicker and the right side getting thinner as you get closer to the end. It’s exciting, and you never want it to stop. Reading from a technological device feels more like reading an academic article, it feels like a chore – boring. And you can pet books. They are nice and soft to touch. There’s something about holding a book that can’t be replicated by an EBook. You can’t help but feeling a world of pain when you finish a book, and you stare into space contemplating all your life’s choices and what brought you to this particular moment.

Your future enormous secret underground library. How cool does that sound? I love collecting books, I find it amazing that I can see all the books that I have read over the years, some more than once. It’s a visible representation of what kind of genres I used to love, and similarly the genres I’m into now. For example, when I was a young teenager I read books about vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts and shapeshifters… you know like a typical teenager. And now I love reading historical fiction and domestic fiction as well as the occasional fantasy *cough* Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children *cough*. At the moment I have a really small bookshelf. It’s quite unfair really. I’ve had to double up books in front of each other. So really, you can only see half the books I own. I have books on my shelf and on my desk. They are overflowing and I need somewhere to put them in the future. Cue underground library. I have an emotional connection to all of them. It’s not like I’m going to sell them or *shudder* throw them away. They bring back good memories for me. And I can’t throw away memories.

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It’s fun to shop for books. And you don’t care if it annoys your friends if you spend hours upon hours searching for the perfect book. I could spend a whole day in Waterstones I’m not even kidding. Sometimes I buy 4 books at a time in Asda because they’re 2 for £7 and don’t read them for a year. But they look pretty on my bookshelf so do I care? No. I mean, just looking at all the beautiful book covers in the shop is relaxing. I’m a book hoarder. I’ve even organised my bookshelf into alphabetical order by the Author’s name. And with shopping for books in bookshops, you can inspect all the pretty book covers in detail rather than looking at a thumbnail picture of its cover on your screen. Have you ever visited a bookshop? They are pure bliss and smell like forests. A town can’t really call itself a town without a bookstore.

So those are the reasons why I love printed books instead of EBooks. Tell me down in the comments why you prefer EBooks over Print books or vice versa, I’d love to hear what you think! Happy reading.

“That’s the thing about books. They demand to be read.” – Me, Just Now

How To: Cream Tea Etiquette


I want to get one thing straight. You’re probably thinking, “Woah, who’s this April and why does she think she’s an expert in cream tea etiquette?” I’ve had a lot of cream teas in my 20 years on this planet, that’s why. And I don’t think I’m an expert, I am an expert. Most of my family make cream teas the way I make them, and my brother makes them the other way, which is daft. Quite frankly I’m offended by jam on top. But anyway, this is an age long debate.

Ok so firstly, there are two types of cream teas in the UK. The Cornish put the jam on first (the CORRECT way), and people from Devon put the cream on first (where’s the sense in that?). Cream is lighter than jam, hence why it should go on top of the jam. The jam would squish the cream if it was put on top. Think about milkshakes or hot chocolate, you don’t put the cream in the mug or cup first do you? No, so apply the same logic to cream teas. It looks more appealing with cream on top. It’s science.

Here’s a quick guide to the perfect cream tea:

  1. Use 2 fruit scones, each. Two is the optimum number of scones, never one, and never three otherwise you’re being greedy. Plain is OK but if you want the perfect cream tea experience, use sultana scones, and make sure they’re quite crumbly too.
  2. You need to cut the scones in half. So you have 4 halves. Do not, I repeat do not sandwich the cream and jam between two halves, leave them open. Otherwise, there’s too much scone in the bite you are eating, and you’d make a huge mess. A scone sandwich is mad, everyone will look at you strangely. And you get half the cream and jam if you make a sandwich of it. You don’t want that.
  3. No butter before you spread the jam, I forbid you to use butter. Don’t do it.
  4. Jam on first, just smother it on all 4 halves, don’t be stingy, just go for it, equal amounts on all halves. The more jam the better. And use Strawberry jam, no-one wants raspberry or blackberry jam, or heaven forbid marmalade or gooseberry jam on your scones, just imagine that disaster. Use refrigerated strawberry jam.
  5. Get a clean knife. You don’t want jam in the pot of cream.
  6. Next, you smother cream on top of the jam. Use refrigerated clotted cream, NOT double cream or whipped cream… ew. That’s utterly improper, and you’ll probably be arrested. Don’t be stingy with the cream either, you need it to be able to stand it’s ground, use a thick and heavy cream.
  7. Whilst you are smothering all the jam and cream on your sultana scones, get someone to make you a perfectly brewed tea (that’s another story). Tea always tastes better when someone else makes it for some reason. So get yourself a tea slave. Don’t have coffee with your cream teas, otherwise, it would be called cream coffee. And that just does not have a ring to it. Allow the tea go brew for at least two minutes – enough time for the flavour to infuse. Tea first, milk second, so you can judge the strength. Grab yourself a cute little teapot big enough for at least 4 tea cups each. Yes, you may need to go to the loo, but you have to suffer through it.

And one more thing, scones is pronounced skONNEs not ScOHnes, just saying. Deal with it. So there you have the perfect cream tea, enjoy! No-one wants a below-standard scone, use my guide and you will forever be the best cream tea host or hostess, ready to dazzle your guests.

Word-High July: Round-Up


Thank you so much Rosema of A Reading Writer and Maria of Doodles and Scribbles for creating Word-High July: 30 Beautiful Filipino Words, it made my writing in July even better. I loved learning all these new and beautiful Filipino Words and the culture that goes with them and creating content based on them. It was very challenging at some pints I have to be honest but I pushed through and have finally finished all of them even if I’m a bit late to the party. So here are all 30 of my Word-High July posts with their definitions. Most of these are poems so if you like poems here you go:

  1. Kilig – Butterflies in ones stomach
  2. Timpi – To control one’s self
  3. Tinatangi – Special someone
  4. Gunita – Memory, recollection
  5. Kalinaw – Serenity, tranquility
  6. Bughaw – The colour blue
  7. Muni-Muni – To think deeply, to ponder
  8. Silakbo – Emotional outburst
  9. Pagsamo – The act of pleading
  10. Indak – To dance in time with the music
  11. Humaling – Extreme fondness
  12. Takipsilim – Twilight, dusk
  13. Harana – The act of wooing someone by serenading him or her
  14. Balintataw – The pupil of the eye
  15. Siping – To lie down beside someone
  16. Marahuyo – To be enchanted
  17. Kaulayaw – A pleasant and intimate companion
  18. Paraluman – A muse that inspires artistically
  19. Habilin – Anything given to someone for safekeeping
  20. Kundiman – Love song
  21. Amihan – Northeast wind, breeze
  22. Makisig – Dashing, well-dressed, gorgeous
  23. Likha – To create something through intelligence and skill
  24. Dalisay – Pure, undiluted
  25. Kinaadman – Knowledge, wisdom
  26. Pahimakas – Last farewell
  27. Yugto – A fundamental transition or development of a story or phenomenon
  28. Halakhak – A loud, uninhibited laughter
  29. Gigil – Uncontrollable urge to pinch or squeeze someone
  30. Tadhana – An invisible force that makes things happen beyond the control of mortals

    xxx