What’s good right now?

It’s raining!

My flat is no longer an oven.

My inbox is full of lovely messages from people who came to Saturday’s writing workshop.

I had a pain aux raisin for breakfast and it was one of those lush squishy custardy ones, not the dry flaky kind.

I am plotting projects that make me excited.

I have enough money to pay my rent, I have food in my fridge, I am seeing a friend later AND I am healthy.

I read a gorgeous piece in the Guardian yesterday about using ‘What’s good?’ as a greeting, instead of ‘how are you?’

The author Emma Beddington writes: ‘The thing about “What’s good?” is that it does not deny the truth: that 95% of everything is currently terrible. It tacitly acknowledges that, but offers a way of focussing on what illuminates the gloom.’

I love this. I am not a Pollyanna. Far from it. I have developed a very annoying habit of zoning into pain and problems and to shake my head at how ‘hard’ things are.

I have read that women are especially prone to bonding over their problems, as opposed to their triumphs because we live in fear of ever being seen to show off. I am an example of that. It’s tedious.

Last week I heard the funny and wise Shahroo Izadi (who helps people change behaviour by being kind to themselves) on one of her Insta live stories talk about focussing on ‘what’s strong rather than what’s wrong’. It’s a phrase used in recovery.

This morning I was also listening to the Shelf Help podcast with Mo Gawdat who wrote a book called Solve For Happy about his formula for happiness: ‘Happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life minus your expectation of how life should be.’

This formula was tested when his 21-year-old son Ali died unexpectedly in what should have been a routine operation.

On the chat with Toni Jones, Mo reminded us that almost anyone who was listening to the podcast was living the dream. ‘If they are listening on your fancy devices and no tiger chasing them, and they have the space and time to listen to a podcast, they are in the luckiest 1 per cent alive.’

He said that unless we are sick or have lost loved ones in Covid, or are in economic dire straights due to losing our job, we should be happy and grateful. ‘We forget to recognise how fortunate we are,’ he says.

He talked about avoiding the news because the more we watch it the more anxiety filled we are. He talked about making the choice each day to appreciate what we have.

It reminded me of an article I read about Dr Ruth, the sex therapist. If you haven’t watched the documentary about her on Netflix, please do. It’s fabulous. Anyway, Dr Ruth is now 90 and is a child of the Holocaust, where she lost her family. The article, in the Guardian, by Aaron Hicklin, reads:

In her chatty 2015 book, The Doctor is In, Westheimer offers a useful insight into how she lives with the trauma of her childhood. The solution, she says, is to focus on the present: “Pay attention to the people around you. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Tell everyone what happened to you during the day and make it as amusing as possible. Accentuate the positive, try to bring everyone’s spirits up; by doing that, you’ll find your own elevated.”

So, on that note: ‘What’s good right now?’

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