Sad Movies Always Make Me Cry

I watched War Horse with The Engineer,  a few days ago.

While I must congratulate Mr. Steven Spielberg for being the master storyteller and world class director that he is, I do take umbrage on a couple of points that totally ruined the movie for me.

1) Spielberg seems vaguely obsessed with communicating the meaninglessness (is that a word?) of war (think Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List). While I do believe that it is indeed a rather worthy issue to be obsessed about, I think he takes things a little too far. Parts of War Horse was focused on World War I and were frankly too traumatic and almost impossible for me to watch. It took all my self control not to openly weep in the cinema. The suffering endured by that beautiful, dignified horse and the sweet boy who was his owner was simply horrible.

2) I do realize that this movie, although not based on a true story, does give the right impression of war. I believe real war  robs everyone involved of practically everything they hold dear – or at the very least – they get really, really close to losing everything. Either way, there is no way anyone can go through a war and come out of it unscathed. You pay a price either emotionally, physically, psychologically, financially and sometimes all four. Spielberg skillfully brought this truth to the fore with War Horse but in so doing, the message of love, honour, trust and faith, took a back seat. I felt distraught after watching the movie instead of hopeful.

These two points made War Horse one of the saddest movies I have ever had the bad luck to watch.

I love animals and it was almost beyond my ability to watch many parts of the movie ( I seriously considered leaving the cinema). I ended up burying my face in The Engineer’s sleeve half the time which only helped a little because I could still hear what was going on.

I don’t like sad movies. I don’t see the point. Real life can be hard enough and I don’t fancy paying good money for a large dollop of unhappiness.

I ended up feeling miserable and exhausted that day – not what you want to experience on a weekend night at the movies. I had to talk myself out of feeling entirely hopeless and it took at least a couple of hours to feel better.

So, if you’re thinking of watching War Horse (and especially if you’re an animal lover) you need to be armed with more than a box of tissues. You need some sort of mental defense mechanism as well.

If not, proceed with extreme caution. It’s going to cost you some happiness for a while.

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The Joy Thieves

Joy Thieves are everywhere and they’re usually camouflaged which makes them really tough to spot.

So, what are Joy Thieves, I hear you ask (okay, maybe you don’t care but I’m going to tell you anyway)?

Well, Joy Thieves are what I call the little things in our lives that create a massive decrease in happiness levels.

The first biggest mistake we all make in our search for happiness is to assume that just because we’re not hungry, cold and don’t have a terminal illness, it automatically means that we must feel ecstatic all the time. The second biggest mistake we make is that it takes a huge change to create a difference in our happiness levels.

A really good Joy Thief example from my own life is my hair and the regularity of bad hair days. This might not sound like a big problem compared to let’s say not having enough to eat or a place to live but I’ve realized that just because I’m not as badly off as some of the people in this world, it doesn’t automatically make me feel thrilled about my life.

You may have heard of Malcolm Gladwell (who also seems to have troubles with his hair) and his fantastic book The Tipping Point, which is essentially about how little  changes can make a big difference. Gladwell says that one of the reasons he wrote the book is to inspire people to start ‘positive epidemics’.

In his website, Gladwell proclaims,”The virtue of an epidemic, after all, is that just a little input is enough to get it started and it can spread very,very quickly.”

In the spirit of starting my own positive epidemic, I’m determined to identify my personal Joy Thieves so I can create a huge wave of happiness with little effort.

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far and what I’m doing about it:

Horrible Hair

I have wavy hair and I live in a humid climate – needless to say the two don’t mix. If I don’t blowdry and apply product my hair tends to curl up in every conceivable direction – needless to say, this makes me want to scream every time I look in the mirror.

Solution: Tried going for a weekly blowdry at the salon and it turned out to be too expensive and time consuming so I’m currently learning to blowdry my own hair and have invested in an anti-frizz product that works.

Jump in Joy: 7/10


Unlike some people, I don’t naturally pair the word domestic with the word bliss. I hate hate hate doing housework – the mopping, the dusting, the ironing and the general cleaning. The Engineer is given to bouts of cleaning fits but isn’t the type to do it everyday. As a result, our house often winds up looking a little more pig sty and a little less palace.

Solution: We recently hired a domestic to come in every other week to keep things from entering the crazy cluttered territory.

Jump in Joy: 8/10


When I started working from home, I used the dining room table as my workspace. This made the entire living area in my apartment look messy and unwelcoming. It also had an adverse psychological effect on me. Every time I walked in the front door, I felt like I had entered an office and was forced to deal with a powerful awful urge to sit at my computer and work!

Solution: I have converted one of the rooms into an office space and had great fun shopping at IKEA for this reason. It’s nothing fancy, just office supplies, a place to store my files and everything neatly arranged and within reach but it definitely works for me.

Jump in Joy: 8/10

So there you have it – little changes, big jumps in joy. There are many more Joy Thieves lurking in my life and my aim is to shine a spotlight on each one and I’ll share them here once I do. It’s such an easy path to more happiness, I just have to take it!

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Thanks, David Beckham!

There’s something in my life that makes me  really, really  happy although I hardly ever give it much thought – my job.

I’m a freelance writer/editor and I’m one of the few lucky people who happen to be in a line of work they love.

This point was brought home to me when one of my editors sent me an email this morning. She wanted me to write a fashion snippet that involved watching a 30-second underwear ad featuring David Beckham – first thing in the morning! It was a pleasant eyeful to say the least and I’m not even a Beckham fan.

Here’s what I was ‘forced’ to watch for work:

All the happiness books I’ve read and self-help gurus I’ve heard go on and on about being grateful for the little things to create more joy in your life. So, today, I’m grateful for David Beckham and his H&M ad ; )

I never thought I’d say this but thanks David!

Happy Introverts

I’ve never been a big fan of small talk. That’s why I look forward to most parties the way other people look forward to a trip to the dentist.

It was different when I was a kid. Back then, parties were about presents, games, cake and sugar highs. These days, parties are about mindless chatter, listening to complaints about the government (local, international, basically every government in the world) and attempting to sidestep the resident alcoholic who’s had too much too drink.

Yes, party-wise, things have certainly taken a dive since my primary schooldays and I’m always pleased when I have a genuine excuse not to attend one of these sorry soirees.

Unfortunately, I also tend to feel guilty about being party averse (or as others would point out a party pooper). I genuinely admire people like my husband, The Engineer, who feeds off the energy of a crowd and gets more and more vibrant and cheerful as the evening wears on.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting in a corner trying to stifle a yawn.

I’ve always felt my lack of interest in hobnobbing and making small talk was somehow a failing on my part but I was really pleased to discover recently that not being an extrovert may not be such a bad thing after all.

I found a nifty little article on the topic in the February issue of O magazine.

The article called Shh! Your Inner Introvert Is Calling caught my eye. Written by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, the article is about the subdued power of people who are more quiet caterpillars than social butterflies.

Susan says talking deeply can help people feel happier. She explains how jumping quickly from subject to subject (i.e idle chitchat or small talk) isn’t the forte of the average introvert who generally prefers deep,serious conversations that focus on a single topic (that’s me!). She cites a study by University of Arizona psychologist Matthias Mehl PhD. He found that the happiest participants were twice as likely to have substantive conversations as the unhappiest ones. The happy people were also far less likely to take part in small talk.

This is great news for me! Finally, a study that gives me a real reason to sidestep small talk. Less small talk = More happiness!

Journey To Happiness Experiment

I’ve decided to start a Journey To Happiness Experiment.

I’m a writer and I’d like to think of myself as a thinker (although I believe there are some people out there who will totally disagree!). I made a huge career change in my late 20s. I was originally an engineer which was mind-bogglingly dull.

Even though I’ve been blessed with plenty of good things in my life – an abundance to eat, a very nice roof over my head, perfect health, a husband who loves me, a cat I adore, work that I love to do – I’m not always happy. Sure, I’m pleased and generally at peace but I’m not happy, happy, y’know?

So, I’ve decided to find this elusive happiness that always seems just a little out of reach. I’ve been more or less searching for it all my life. I love to read and I’ve been on the Happiness Path ever since I got my hands on a book called “Being Happy” by Andrew Matthews when I was 15.

Through the course of my work, I had the good fortune to meet and interview the author just a few months back. I told him how his book helped shape the course of my life. It was a happy moment for both of us : )

This blog is my way of keeping track of my thoughts and whatever I learn as I journey into the relatively unknown space of my own mind and attempt to rewire my brain from so-so to joyously happy. I’m a reader and I will chiefly look for the key to unlocking a flood of happy from books written by others who have followed the path before me.

I haven’t yet decided how long I’m going to give myself to reach a level of everyday happy that I’m happy with but 9 months comes to mind. If it takes just 9 months to create a wonderful, functioning, unique human being, it shouldn’t take longer than that to find a satisfactory level of happiness in my life.

So…here I go!