Earlier this year I wrote a blog post explaining why I don’t want to get married. In that post, I discuss the large divorce rate growing across the Western population and that I, too, come from a family of divorced parents. You might think my outlook on marriage is influenced by the fact my parents divorced when I was young, and that I don’t have positive role models when it comes to long and happy marriages—and you’d be right… sort of. My parents, and many other divorced and unhappy couples I know have influenced my opinion on the practice. That is not to say, however, that I don’t have people in my life who have shown me what it truly means to be in a long, and happy marriage. I do. Those people are, in fact, my grandparents.
My grandparents just recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. August is actually a huge month for them because not only is it their anniversary, but it’s also both of their birthdays. My grandpa turned 91 and my grandma, the big 90. (They pride themselves in both being Leos.) Along with their marriage longevity, what is also amazing about this couple is that they are both still living in their massive house my mum and her brothers grew up in. The house has hosted many holidays over the years, including their milestone anniversaries—at least, the ones I’ve been alive for. This year was no different. Well yes, it was. I take after my grandma in a lot of ways. We’re both stubborn and we both love to sing. I’ve also inherited her love of being a social butterfly. If she had had it her way, there would have been a massive party in their backyard full of family and friends. (That’s how they usually celebrate these things.) Thanks to COVID, though, that wasn’t an option. We had to settle for having a small family gathering with people in our ‘bubble.’
It was a beautiful sunny day and we were sitting having beers in their backyard before dinner. I interrupted the lighthearted conversation when I asked my grandparents, “so, what is the secret to 65 years?” My grandma sighed and said something along the lines of ‘I was sort of expecting to give this speech today.’ She then continued on speaking, as if having said those words multiple times at different anniversaries. (Now that I’m thinking about it, I vaguely remember her saying this at their 60th… Anyways, I filmed it this time and took notes to share with whoever is reading this, in case you—or someone you know—could use this advice, too.)
My grandmother said it wasn’t about finding the perfect person. It was about finding the perfect person for you. She added that growing up she had this idea about who her ‘perfect’ husband would be and that he would check off all these boxes. What she found in my grandfather, however, was not a perfect man, but someone who could completely attend to her needs. (He does bring her coffee and chocolate in bed every morning which is pretty perfect if you ask me.)
My grandfather then contributed by saying that marriage is a corporation, with both parties giving 50% of the shares. “You have to realize that your partner has certain specific strengths, you let [them roll with theirs, and they need to do the same for you.]” Essentially, you’re both investing in a business; the business of marriage. In order to make it successful, you need to let your partner hone their skills, and you need to do the same. The best partnerships are those who’s skills and weaknesses complement one another. I later thought about how true this was for them. My grandma, the extraverted excitable woman that she is, compliments my grandfather who’s temperament has always been more subdued and patient.
I also wish to emphasize that after 65 years, they are still very much in love and are completely happy. At the end of the day, however, 65 years is just time passing. It’s completely possible to be married that long and not be happy. There’s no secret to that. There’s just regret.
During this conversation, my grandfather also mentioned the importance of being a “good person with good character.” That’s some damn good advice, in my opinion.
A few weeks ago my good friend Hugh posted on his Instagram TV show where he discusses Five helpful tips for happiness. This inspired me to join in the positivity with creating my own list. This year has been one hell of a ride so far, and I think everyone could use a little more happiness these days.
So, without further ado, here are my 5 Tips For Positivity:
1. Drink Water
Did you know when you’re thirsty your body is already dehydrated? A lot of the times we don’t even know our bodies need water until we get that pining for it. Whenever I’m feeling down I chug some water and 9/10 times I feel better. Yes, you have to pee a lot more, but it’s absolutely worth it in the long run. I carry a water bottle with me everywhere I go and make sure to drink from it throughout the day
2. Sweat Every Day
This was advice from one of my college teachers. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, but get that heart rate up. When you exercise endorphins are released throughout your body to make you feel better. It could just be jogging up a flight of stairs a few times, or dancing in your bedroom. Whatever it is, moving your body helps your mind.
3. Stay Off Screens
This has been something I’ve been trying to do a lot more recently. I have this bad habit of opening my laptop and not closing it until hours later. This has been severely damaging to my mental health, and I notice my eyes start hurting afterwards. What I’ve been doing to combat this habit is leaving my laptop and mobile in my bedroom for a few hours. I don’t go back in for them until after I’ve read a couple of chapters of a book, or spent time talking to my family (and cuddling my dogs). I’ve become a lot happier since doing this.
4. Limit Coffee/Alcohol Consumption
Last year I took some time off of coffee and alcohol, two things I thought I could never give up. I was actually completely coffee free for a couple of months and felt amazing. My anxiety had gone down and I noticed I was more alert and, generally, happier. I gradually started incorporating it back in my life, and before I knew it I was an addict again. I’m back drinking coffee, however not nearly as much as I used to drink. Also, caffeine inhibits the absorption of iron, making us more sluggish and fatigued overall, which is the opposite of what we want when we drink our hot cuppa in the mornings.
Alcohol is not something I could ever give up permanently, but taking a breather from it every once in awhile is something I always recommend. It’s ironic how alcohol is used as a tool to make us forget about our troubles, and yet when we drink it we become even more depressed about them. (So much for drinking to forget, right?) This is because alcohol is a depressant. If you want to be happy, why would you rely on a depressant to help? Not to mention the aching hangovers that make us even more miserable. Lastly, what both coffee and alcohol have in common is that they both dehydrate the body, which, as we all know, isn't good for our mental state either.
5. Feed Your Soul
Do you love playing an instrument? Or dancing? Maybe your thing is knitting? Whatever it is, do it every day. Last month I did a 30 days vocal warm-up challenge, where I worked my voice for a minimum of ten minutes every day. I sang multiple different songs and improved my vocal ability considerably. I noticed that even on the days I felt the worst, for those ten minutes I felt amazing. Everything in our bodies is connected. By feeling your body and your soul, you also feed your mind. We need to remember to take care of our whole selves.