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A secret worth remembering

In her column for our Spring newsletter, Amanda finds truth and comfort in a designer's words.

I read a William Morris quote the other day which set me off thinking, as quotes tend to do,

The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.

Without even asking, I know my partner’s view on this would be that he wished I took a little less interest in the detail of our daily life!  Like asking those simple questions such as how his relatives’ families are when he mentions he’s spoken to one of them.  I wrongly assume he would have checked, and he does not see my question’s relevance when he only phoned to discuss the weekend’s football scores.  Thankfully, these days, what was once a bone of contention does bring humour to such exchanges … if no further updates!

Anyway, I digress.  Although my daily life, along with many people’s, has not been the most invigorating over the past year, the quote is a reminder to me to live in the present.  One thing I have noticed during lockdown is the effect small, daily incidents can have on my mood, both in terms of improving it as well as, sadly, the reverse.

The event in recent months which springs to mind at the negative end of the scale, would be coming out of the supermarket after doing a weekly shop and initially breathing a sigh of relief at getting into the fresh air again.  But, on getting near to where the car was parked at the quiet end of the carpark, I took a sharp intake of breath when I noticed that someone had gashed the back wing and left scratches all down the passenger side.  Surely this, much talked about, improved community spirit brought on by Covid would mean I would find a note with a number tucked into the windscreen?  No, and no luck with any working security cameras in the car park either, just a hefty repair bill and no happiness to be found in that detail of daily life.

However, on walking back from the garage the next day, a tiny incident did pull me out of my musings on the unfairness of the previous day.  A father was walking towards me with his teenage son.  The pavement wasn’t wide enough for us to pass safely, so I stopped to let them through.  The father thanked me as he walked past, but the son was halted by their dog who had decided to investigate an interesting smell on the wall and had dug its feet in to do so.  It only caused us a few seconds delay, but the boy smiled so sweetly and apologised, not only for what he considered his dog’s unsociable behaviour, but the fact they had held me up.  A small detail of my life that day, but one which managed to distract me from my current troubles and cheer me up.

It is a fleeting memory but one I’ve returned to over the past few weeks.  That young lad will have no idea how much his bright smile and apology changed my mood that day.  So, when I read the William Morris happiness quote, it struck a chord.  In the mood I was in, I could have ploughed on with my head down on my homeward stomp oblivious to the boy and his dog, but I’d have missed being able to lighten my mood and discover for myself that Mr Morris was definitely on to something with his secret to happiness!



This column appeared in our Spring 2021 newsletter, if you would like future editions of our quarterly workplace wellbeing newsletter sent directly to your inbox, you can sign up here.


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