This blog starts with a simple premise. That we have all chosen to live in London because it is a great place to live. I sometimes get annoyed at the little things – getting squashed in the tube, the fact that everyone’s so busy, the difficulty with getting a small group of busy friends together. But I want to appreciate the great stuff – the bars, restaurants, plays, exhibitions, galleries, that make London the exciting, liberating, open minded place that it is.
But then I started thinking that life in London can be pretty selfish – we earn money and then go out and spend it on doing nice things. So the second premise takes from it some rules that I have pinched from clever scientists who have devised ways to be happy, ways that bring something a little more spiritual and selfless into our everyday existence.
So my rules are this:
1. Be active – Makes you feel good and gets you fit. Spend at least one hour a week doing active exercise – this includes team sports, yoga, dance, anything to get the mind and body moving. I’m going to try at least one new thing a month.
2. Connect – Developing relationships with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours will enrich your life and bring you support. Spend at least an hour a week in conversation with someone you love (preferably in a nice bar or restaurant). I’m going to try at least one new restaurant or bar a month.
3. Give – Helping friends and strangers links your happiness to the wider world and is very rewarding. Do at least one thing per month for someone else – and not just something fun and exciting for you. Something to make you think about things bigger than myself.
4. Nurture – Help something to grow. I think I’ll start with a plant.
5. Learn – The challenge and satisfaction brings you confidence. Go to at least one class, course, talk or exhibition that teaches you something new every month.
6. Be Curious – Noting the beauty of our everyday life as well as the unusual, and reflecting on them, helps you appreciate your world and makes you realise what matters to you. I think Jim Carrey once said when asked what heaven is, that heaven is whatever he is living at that moment and you should often look around you and say “this is heaven” to make you realise that. Pretty hard at rush hour on the Northen Line but I can always try.
So, I will report back on what I find out – about London, thing to do, places to go. But maybe more importantly I want to find out whether in this hedonistic society I can find something a bit more meaningful by sticking to these rules.
And I challenge you to do the same!