Sometimes it’s just nice to make a list of happy things. It’s lovely to write, it’s lovely to look back on when you’re feeling down and it’s a great personal touch to any blog. So, to celebrate the fact that today is International Day Of Happiness, here is a list of just some things that make me happy.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

MUSIC | No matter what mood I’m in, music can cheer me right up. Some songs make me dance around like a lunatic. Some songs make me think of happy memories. Other songs I enjoy moshing to at gigs, and some I sing at the top of my voice when driving along.

LONG SUMMER EVENINGS | In summer, days seem to last forever because it gets dark so late. I love that moment in the day when it’s late afternoon – but it feels like much, much later – and you’re outside nursing a beer or spending time with friends. You can hear that summer sound – someone mowing their garden in the distance and maybe the low rumble of relaxing music somewhere else. You think the day is almost over but when you check the time you realize that you’ve still got hours before you even have to move a muscle.

CHILDHOOD MOVIES | Some all time favourites that never fail to cheer me up are The Mummy, Three Men and a Baby, Father Of The Bride, Look Who’s Talking, Ferngully, Hercules, Thumbelina…there are many more but stick any of these on and I guarantee you I’ll be right as rain.

MY BOYFRIEND | My boyfriend drives me crazy to the point that no other can. If I didn’t love him so much and know that it was all in good will, I would say it was on the verge of bullying because he just gets some sick kick out of annoying me! But, that being said, he makes me so happy as well. Whether that’s planning our summer adventures together or having a quick snuggle before work – there’s not one moment (for the most part) that he doesn’t make me happy. He can make me laugh so hard that I snort or cry tears of happiness and being that humour is such an important thing to me in a relationship, it works out pretty damn well for me.

AVOCADO | #Sorrynotsorry. I just love it. On toast. In guacamole. By itself. It’s just so damn good that I even want an avocado tattoo one day.

LAZY SUNDAY MORNINGS | On the rare occasion that I have a Sunday off work, I like to have breakfast in bed with a cuppa and catch up on New Girl and Made In Chelsea. I also read some blogs and genuinely stay in bed for as late as I like – hey, that’s what Sundays are for though!

MY FRIENDS & FAMILY | Obviously. I can always rely on them; my family look after me and look out for me in ways I couldn’t even imagine, and my friends are always on hand to cheer me up when I need it.

AMARETTO | This stuff is lethal because it’s so tasty that it makes you get drunk very easily, but it has been my drink of choice for many years now. I love it with coke…

A COLD BEER AT A GIG | ..but saying that, there really is nothing better than a cold beer at a gig. Heck, even a warm beer at a gig is okay. I can’t drink anything else when seeing live music (except maybe a jager bomb or two if I’m planning a wild night…)

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | What makes me happy | International Day of Happiness

THE MORNING AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE | One of the best parts of a big night out is conferring with your friends the next day. You discover what stupid sh*t you got up to drunk, they tell you things you forgot happened…and the drunken pictures. Oh the drunken pictures.

PARTY SAUSAGE ROLLS | They were always the sole reason I’d go to any most family parties when I was younger but now I even adore the Linda McCartney vegan ones. You just can’t go wrong with mini/party sausage rolls…

OFFBEAT INDIE MOVIES | Don’t get me wrong, I love popular blockbuster movies too, but I absolutely love stumbling across indie gems that I end up loving so much. In the past, I’ve discovered movies such as In Search of a Midnight Kiss, The Pill, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Like Crazy, A Long Way Down, Nesting and Obvious Child. Plus I guess finding these unique relatively unheard of films makes me feel really cultured..!

CUTE NOTEBOOKS | With pretty prints or inspiring slogans…I don’t have any use for half the notebooks I already own and yet I continue to buy them.

MY BLOG | It’s my baby…!

MY BED | Yep.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into some things that make me happy: what would be on your list? Let me know!

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Please note, this post first appeared on World Nomads as my entry into their 2018 writing scholarship.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The one thing no one tells you about travel

When I stepped off the airplane and onto the soil belonging to a cold and drizzly Berlin recently, I felt a mixture of things.

Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Regret. Optimistic.

I wasn’t supposed to be on this trip alone. I’d booked the last minute deal for my on-again-off-again boyfriend at the time, hoping the ability to explore somewhat foreign lands would help him him fall in love with travel the way that I did and kickstart the recovery of his depression.

But at the last minute, he changed his mind. Facing Berlin alone was not something I had wanted, nor was it something I was looking forward to. But, travel is always an opportunity that is hard to say no to – alone or otherwise.

Whilst there, I discovered a new thrill of dining alone in quirky restaurants. The Dungeons were particularly fun – gruesome history is kinda my thing – and one of my favourite experiences was stocking up on snacks and hopping on a sightseeing bus tour. Whilst it rained outside, I snacked away, warm and content, listening to Berlin’s history.

At Topographie des Terrors, I had a reality check and realized that though my heart hurt and though I was sad over a boy, my problems were nothing compared to the horrors that had gone on throughout Germany’s history. My situation and my feelings seemed almost laughable in comparison.

My realisation that maybe with time I would be okay came the evening I arrived at Museum Island and gazed in awe at Berliner Dom. With the sun just beginning to set and creating the most stunning backdrop for such a beautiful building, I realized that getting here wasn’t so easy, but it had resulted in a moment of clarity and content. I took in the astonishing view and knew deep down that he could not take that away from me.

But as I let myself into an empty hotel room at the end of each day, I did not expect to feel such a strong pang of loneliness. The sharp but dull ache I felt in that moment made me realize that there are some things people don’t tell you about travel.

Travel opens your eyes to new cultures, new experiences and memories to last a lifetime. It’s one of the best things anyone can do in the short lives we have.

But it can get lonely too, especially when you’re faced with an empty hotel room for an entire evening in a foreign country, not quite knowing what to do with yourself. I know now how to take precautions to avoid feeling this way.

I knew I’d feel a lot of things during my visit to Berlin. The last thing I expected was to feel loneliness.

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I have a confession to make. I’m what most people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. In January, I always pledge to try Veganuary and manage to go a full month of each year without any form of meat and dairy – but once 1st February hits, I begin to struggle.

The first time I messed up – back in January 2016 – I felt like a complete failure. I’d accidentally picked up something that wasn’t vegan and didn’t realize until much later on when I’d already scoffed it down. Then, in February, I pledged to try and be as vegan as possible still, but this still didn’t stop me feeling guilty when I gave into my cravings from then onwards.

It was meeting my ex boyfriend that made me try and go fully vegan again. As he was vegan – and I spent so much time at his place that I practically lived there – it was really easy – except for the days when I wasn’t with him. Now that we’re no longer together, it’s even harder.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Personal | The fundamentals of being a 'failed' vegan | Vegan | Food

I find it hard to commit to being vegan for a few different reasons. Firstly, it’s convenience. When I have money and go shopping for lots of vegan goodies in advance, eating green is like second nature to me. But when I’m skint and have nothing planned for lunch at work, it’s so much easier for me to run to Wilko’s and grab a packet of crisps and a chocolate bar than, well, fruit or otherwise.

My second reason is my cravings. I still get cravings for things like McDonalds, Chinese food or pizza on a regular basis. I think this is because I pencil being vegan in with being healthy – and when I’m on a health kick, working out and eating healthy, it’s only a matter of time before I think I deserve a treat like a burger or a pepperoni pizza. And of course, if I’m PMSing or I’ve had a bad day, it’s so tempting to go to the McDonalds drive through on the way home from work!

My final reason is that it’s hard to eat vegan when I’m at home, especially when my Dad is cooking one of his famous Sunday roast dinners or ordering our traditional Saturday night curry. I have learned to get better at this though – these days, I’ll swap chicken for a vegan pie and have pretty much the rest of a roast dinner, and often I say no to a curry altogether.

I think what stops me committing fully is that I’m not doing it for the animals. Well, I am in some ways, but I’m also mostly doing it for the health reasons. I know where meat and dairy comes from and I’ve read the facts, but perhaps I haven’t watched enough documentaries to put me off meat and dairy entirely. I’m still at the point where I’m ignorant to where it comes from – I know, but I don’t think about it – and so I don’t feel as guilty when I give into a craving.

However, I’m learning to take on a more healthy approach to being what some people would call a ‘failed’ vegan. I prefer to think of myself as a transitioning vegan and I’m a lot less harsh on myself now. You can never be 100% perfect, and even those who have been vegan for years may accidentally mess up from time to time.

Since joining some Facebook groups, I’ve learned that as well as cutting out meat and dairy and all non-vegan products from your life, essentially, being vegan means being as vegan as possible. It’s impossible to be 100% entirely vegan – simply because of things out of our control – but it’s also so much better to just try. It’s important to accept your mistakes and remember tomorrow is a new day. It doesn’t make you wrong or make you a failure. It makes you human.

Even if you eat vegan six days a week and have one day off, you’re still miles ahead than complete meat eaters. You’re still making a difference and you’re still doing something good.

I’ve also downloaded a habit tracker app, so I can see an overview of the days which I’ve eaten completely vegan and which days I’ve slipped up – seeing a calendar filled with green and red dots puts it all into perspective for me and makes me more and more determined to turn all those red dots into green ones.

But, mostly, I’ve come to accept that I try my hardest to be vegan and that even if I do mess up, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure or doesn’t mean I’m not a vegan. It just means I’m trying my best.

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