A contented mind is the greatest blessing a man can enjoy in this world. – Joseph Addison

What three things make you most happy?

Were you able to answer that easily?

I was at a lovely wedding party last week with a group of work colleagues. A great wee band called Hitched played such a variety of songs that the dance floor was always busy.

We got talking about how much we all still loved dancing, how happy that made us. From there the conversation moved to the three things that made each of us most happy. Money didn’t feature at all, and the most common answers included dancing, good wine/cocktails, great sex, love and music. Given the other things that ended up on the list, clearly happiness is an individual thing, as some answers brought puzzled looks from some and nods of appreciation from others. Things like Dolly Parton, Peter André, shoes, good food, the smell of cut grass, hill-walking in a glen on a summer’s day, iPods and books.

What was more surprising was that a few people couldn’t think of their top three, or even three things that made them happy at all. It wasn’t something they had thought about, and I can’t quite get my head around that.

If you don’t know what makes you happy, how can you create more of what you want in your life?

My favourite conversation was with a woman who had spent some great nights over the past few years “learning” French from a French mum at her kid’s school, helped by copious amounts of wine. Good wine, mind, that brought with it good times.

Dancing was up there in her top three. She reeled off her list instantly – and the third item definitely started us talking: she said she was really happy on a dry day when her washing was all pegged out and just blowing in the wind.

It was the little things that made her really happy, she said. A newly bathed child, all rosy cheeked; her garden, even though she wasn’t a gardener; folk music most of the time with some Dolly Parton thrown in for good measure. It was a meal cooked well, time spent with her children and husband or with her wider family at a get-together and singalong, or a walk in her part of Glasgow. She said she didn’t have a bucket list. It wasn’t that she didn’t fancy travelling to far-flung places or doing certain things, but that wasn’t her priority. She was content and she was happy.

Contentment is hugely under-rated in a world that seeks happiness in the next thing, person or experience, where it’s already growing under your nose if you just stopped long enough to look.

What are the top three things on my list? I find it hard to whittle it down, so in the end I asked myself what were the three things I would miss most if they weren’t here because of the happiness they bring me? My answer is home/family, being by the sea and books.

What about you?

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