Dorset Cereals recently got in touch with a new challenge that focuses on a very important question : What makes you happy? They explained : "Happiness is not such a secret but it can be in a day’s planning. Some happiness drivers are out of our control, but there is one space that isn’t, and it’s the mood setter for any day - which at Dorset Cereals, we believe is breakfast. We believe that life begins at breakfast and this is the ideal time to sit down and reflect."
They sent me through some lovely breakfast goodies - their Oat & Barley Porridge, Hazelnut & Brazil Tasty Toasted Muesli and Simply Delicious Muesli - as well as a copy of the Dorset Cereals Breakfast Book.
This tasty tome contains recipes for everything from wonderful waffles to perfect pancakes and fabulous fry-ups, and is guaranteed to get your day off to a good start. Breakfast time is always a bit hectic here at The Madhouse - I'm out of the house and heading to the bus stop at 7am which is when the kids are just waking up - so I'm looking forward to the holidays for catching up with some more leisurely breakfasts, quite possibly taking inspiration from the book.
Dorset Cereals have some words of wisdom for the morning routine. They explain that breakfast is the perfect time to set a positive intention and tone for the day and take a moment to appreciate the good things around us. Making small changes in how we start the day really can make a big difference:
Their advice is :
THINK: As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So focus on the good stuff. What happened yesterday, what’s good about today. And feel the benefits of a little reflection and observation. Miss this at breakfast and you won’t have time to catch up during the day.
TALK: The work/life balance can classically kill off family time, but as you wake up, this is the time you are most likely to be together as a family group. Don’t leave it for ‘later’ when ‘later’ inevitably changes shape during the day.
MOVE: Dorset residents might benefit from acres of coastline and countryside all around, but planning something active shouldn’t rest on this alone. Think as you chew about whether you’re pacing up and down the office when on a call, or actually walking up an escalator. If you plan it before you leave home, you will do it, rather than fall into the fug of routine. And feel good about it.
ENJOY: Quality of life needs some…quality. From a particular coffee smell that beats all others, to ingredients in your food that you can actually savour above the functional, to little moments of pleasure that you can plan into each day. The link again is the planning, the enjoyment factor and the few minutes to work into the day that make everything a little more enjoyable.
According to Dorset Cereals, for iheart radio, the US based digital radio service, happiness is a channel playing Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ nonstop for 13 consecutive days. For Man City’s Yaya Toure, it is about a respect flavoured birthday cake. And for real people it’s gardening. The weather. Or simply the town in which they live. They asked me to put together my top 5 happiness actions too so here they are :
1. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Don't take life, and above all yourself, too seriously. If the cake you're baking falls apart when you take it out of the oven, don't feed it to the dog before anyone can see - post a picture on facebook and let everyone have a giggle instead. It'll make you laugh too in the end.
2. Look at life through the eyes of a child. Slow right down and allow yourself to be wowed by the wonders of nature and life in general that we're often too busy to notice. So what if it's only a 5 minute walk to the post box? Walk at your child's pace and look at the daisies, search for ladybirds, jump over the cracks in the pavement, look for pictures in the clouds, blow dandelion clocks ... take the time to appreciate life's simple peasures.
3. Do at least the top 2 things on your to-do list. Procrastination is the root of all evil. Well OK, maybe not, but is the cause of a lot of stress and sleepless nights. Keep a list of urgent errands that need to be run, emails to be sent or paperwork to deal with and do the two most urgent ones every day. Half of the time, they only take a few minutes but still keep getting put off. Just do it, then feel nice and virtuous and treat yourself with some well-deserved me-time !
4. Say yes and no at least once a day. How many times in a day do you agree to do something you really don't want to do or, on the contrary, turn down an offer that you'd love to accept because it's too expensive or you haven't got a babysitter or you feel like you haven't got the time. Learn to say no and yes in the right situations !
5. Random acts of kindness. I love the idea of paying it forward. Whether it's buying a copy of The Big Issue, taking a homemade cake in to work or helping an old lady across the road, do something nice and totally unnecessary at least once a day. Even if the karma doesn't come round and pay you back, you'll still get a lovely warm feeling inside that will make you smile.
On a more prosaic level, the five actual things that can make me happy at a moment's notice are :
1. a cream and apple puff from the baker's
2. a group hug with the kids
3. getting out in the sunshine geocaching
4. going to bed with a good book
5. an ice cold Bacardi Breezer !
What about you? What makes you happy?
Disclosure : I received some Dorset Cereals goodies.
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