A smile and three ‘thank you’s

Dear Claire

 

It’s the first Friday of October, so Happy World Smile Day! It sounds as though you’ll have had lots to smile about in Italy!

This is World Smile Day in a nutshell:

  • The image of World Smile Day is the smiley face 😊
  • The smiley face was created by Harvey Ball back in 1963, in Worcester, Massachusetts.
  • He designed it as part of a goodwill campaign during the merger of two insurance companies.
  • But 1999 he was concerned that the use of the smiley face had become too commercialized, so he had the idea to use it as the symbol of a day to celebrate happiness.
  • The goal of World Smile Day is for everyone to do one act of kindness that makes one person smile. And thus the world will become a happier place.

From kindness to gratitude

I was reading about something else recently that is proven to make the world a happier place – over a delicious cappuccino, as it happened – and that is the act of gratitude.

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Happy Cappuccino

This white paper on the Science of Gratitude, published last May by UC Berkeley, cites many research studies, one of them showing that people who wrote down three things that went well over the course of one week, and identified the causes of those good things, reported increased happiness a whole six months after the intervention!

So on this World Smile Day, perhaps it’s worth us not only engaging in an act of kindness but also beginning the practice of deliberate gratitude. And to help make it a habit, how about thinking of three things for which we are grateful each morning, during the very activity that enhances a smile – brushing our teeth!

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Smiley Smurf

Of course the Smurfs may or may not be one of them….

Lots of love,
Sam

Looking back, moving forward

Dear Sam,

 

Well, what a tonic it was to spend time with good friends! Oxford was looking glorious, with the college gardens and parks at their most colourful, and I loved seeing the profusion of roses everywhere. As well as reminiscing about our student days, it was wonderful to look ahead and make some plans for our blog here at Staircase 9 17, too.  It was lucky that we came across the Turl Street Kitchen when we arrived, as it was the perfect place to start our discussions, with its combination of great food and coffee and its mission to support the local community.

The blog’s Home page has a new look

I’m glad we’ve made a few changes to the format of the blog and, as this year progresses, I’m looking forward to exploring our theme of wellbeing and ways of helping ourselves by helping others. Next month, we’ll start our new Friday Food for Thought series, where we’ll post an inspiring snippet to ponder. With that in mind, I’ll leave you with some wise words from Dr Johnson, once, of course, a student at Pembroke himself,

“Life has no pleasure higher or nobler than that of friendship.”

Well said!

Much love,

Claire

 

 

A postcard from Oxford

Oxford City Radcliffe Camera

Dear Claire,

 

Just a quick post today because I am on my way to see you in person! I cannot wait to be back in Oxford – looking forward to pubs and meadows and window boxes and reunions – and most of all, sharing some wonderful time with you!

Let’s hope both our trains are on time and I will see you shortly at the station….

train-3010877_1920.jpgMuch love,
Sam

The cup that cheers…

Dear Sam,

 

I trust you had a  happy Day of Happiness, too? And, speaking of things that make me happy, I want to talk to you today about something very simple that certainly cheers me up – a refreshing cup of tea.

Blue Planet 2 was mesmerising

Earlier this year, it seemed like the whole of the population of the UK was glued to our television screens watching Blue Planet 2, the latest wildlife programme presented by Sir David Attenborough. Has it been broadcast in the US yet? As well as marvelling at the wonders the series depicted and the talent of the team involved in producing it, we were appalled at the story it told of the damage that plastic pollution is doing to the seas. Like a lot of people, I found that watching it made me rethink the way that I shop, in a bid to cut down on how much plastic I’m buying.  Although our local council has a good recycling programme, it’s clear that the less plastic we consume, the better it will be for the planet.

No more plastic in my tea

That may sound like a digression from the subject of tea, but I was even more shocked to learn that the teabags I’d been blithely putting in the compost bin also contained plastic (as part of the seal around the seams, apparently). So, in a bid to cut this out, I decided to try using loose leaf tea again.  Although tea bags are very convenient, I’ve discovered that I quite enjoy the ritual of making a cup of tea with a bit more effort.  It was also an excuse to go for a browse in a kitchen shop to choose a tea diffuser, which makes dealing with the used leaves a bit easier.

 

Tea leaf diffuser
Tea diffusers come in all shapes and sizes

 

Since I’ve started this, I’ve read that several tea companies over here have announced that they are bowing to public pressure to remove the plastic from their manufacturing process; there are also companies that produce biodegradable bags – this is usually listed on the box.

As I also take milk in my tea, I’m lucky that I don’t need to buy lots more plastic thanks to our doorstep delivery. I think that the milk round has been seeing a bit of a resurgence in popularity recently – as it brings the milk to you in reusable glass bottles delivered (even in the snow!) on an electric milk float, it’s a pretty green option.

So, I think thanks are due to Sir David and the wonderful creatures we all discovered in his programme for doing more to change people’s behaviour by entertaining and educating us than any information campaign could have done.

That’s it for today – time to put the kettle on.

Much love,

Claire

Happy Day of Happiness!

International Day of Happiness

Dear Claire,

 

I’m posting this a little earlier than usual this week, because today is the International Day of Happiness. And I wanted to share these ideas from Action for Happiness for some simple acts of kindness to make a difference to someone today:

  • Offer to help
  • Give away your change
  • Pay a compliment
  • Make someone smile

Here’s something that I hope will make you smile – a memory of that British childhood favorite, Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Happy, narrated by Arthur Lowe.

I hope you have a happy Happy Day – and happy spring!

Much love,
Sam