I am now about halfway through August and started thinking about my moments of happiness so far. There is one particular moment – or day – that stands out to me and that is the day that I went to the spa with my mother. We started with a few relatively cooler saunas – at least, ones with lower temperatures than traditional saunas. In the afternoon we decided to do something different and attended a sauna-ritual. It was a 45-minute long ritual where, in three different rounds, they poured scented water over hot stones, causing the temperature to rise. The temperature in the small wooden room was a lot higher than I am used to but it was so, so relaxing. They used various different scents, starting with chamomile, lavender and anise. The second round was mandarin, honey and grapefruit, and the final round eucalyptus, and grapefruit again. It was fascinating to look at the hot stones – the moment the water was poured over them, you could see the water evaporating again, see the dark wet stones turning swiftly back to their original colour. It almost looked magical, the way the process unfolds in front of your eyes. In between the sessions we went for a short stroll outside and were offered some pieces of apple and orange. I can still remember that moment – going outside, into the fresh air after that incredible heat, and biting into a piece of fruit. I don’t think I have ever tasted something as refreshing as in that moment.
Something else that comes to mind is that I started doing something that I love again – reading. It started a while back with Gretchen Rubin’s book, and I continued in my holiday (in which I read a Karen Rose thriller, Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Wild by Cheryl Strayed). In August I have kept this up, and am currently reading the first Game of Thrones volume – which might, because of the themes, not be the most obvious book to read in my first happiness month. It took me some times (some years, actually) to commit to starting George R.R. Martin’s books. Not only the sheer size of the books was daunting, but as a big Tolkien-fan, I also did not want to start reading something I might like more than The Lord of the Rings. So far, I have to admit that the books are good, but nothing has surpassed the magical feel and the fantastical world Tolkien created yet. Reading more of course also meant that I could use the excuse to buy more books. And this time, instead of ordering books online, I went into various bookstores to enjoy the feeling of physically buying a book. Although they are more expensive than online, nothing beats the feeling of walking out of a bookstore with a new book in your bag. I am very passionate about books, but after reading Marie Kondo’s book, I did decide to get rid of part of my collection. I have this vision of a ceiling-high, enormous bookcase in my house, but do I really want it to be filled with books that I have no intention to read, or books that I have read but did not enjoy at all? Even though I now own less books, looking at my bookcase actually makes me happier than it did before, because it is filled with books that I love. Today I decided that my bookcase was missing a book and went to purchase Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. To my surprise, I saw another book written by her, a book which I did not even know existed. How, I have no clue. It was another happiness project that she did and as the first book was such an inspiration to me, I did not hesitate and walked away from Waterstones with Happier at Home in my bag. Other books that I have in my possession now are the first, third and fourth volume of Game of Thrones (which I, apart from the first one, found at a second-hand store that I came across on one of my recent city-strolls) and How Not to Write a Novel by Howard Mittelmark and Sandra Newman. I plan to have read this last book by November, when I intend to give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) yet another try. Although I read everywhere that we should “collect moments, not things” and we should not attach value to objects, owning these books does make me pretty damn happy.
Other (small) moments of happiness this month include: the feeling of the warm wind increasing as a thunderstorm nears, the sound of bells ringing to the melody of a song from the Cinderella Disney-film, taking my laptop to the store and hearing that it needs a new hard drive (not a happy moment) but is still within the 3-year guarantee period (very happy moment!), playing the piano after months and realising that my fingers still know what to do even without sheet music, and going for a 7 kilometer walk in the woods with my dad that was, despite or maybe because of the light drizzle, very enjoyable.