Qualcosa Semplice

Happiness is a thing that cannot be measured. It cannot be given and it cannot be stolen. It’s a fundamental part of life. Many people strive for ultimate happiness while many people have none. Wealth and power do not necessarily facilitate happiness and the acquisition of those things we desire only delivers a quasi-happiness. Sometimes real happiness comes from something simple.

Take last week for instance, I popped into the post office to post a letter. Like post offices the world over it was filled with people waiting until it was their turn to be served. I took my position in the queue and after several minutes one of the ladies behind the glass called out to me asking if I was just there to purchase a stamp. I told her I was and she beckoned me to the front of the line of people, who had bills and savings books in their hands. I told her I could wait as there were many people patiently waiting their turn in front of me. Just then as if rehearsed, the queue all ushered me past to the front where I was promptly served with a stamp. This random act of kindness deposited itself in my happiness tank.

Later in the week I was buying a loaf and was about to go when I asked for a slice of sausage and mushroom pizza only to be told by the lady serving that they only had one slice and the corner was burnt. I told her it didn’t matter I’d take it anyway. She then wrapped it up and told me I could have it for free. She wished me a good day and I left with another deposit in the happy tank.

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You can also create your own happiness by just doing something simple. This morning I drove to the beach with my partner and we walked along the pebbles watching the lazy winter waves saunter towards the shore. The sky was clear and the December sun danced across the sea. I picked up shells and driftwood, as I had done as child on family holidays and these simple acts contributed to a further deposit into the happiness tank.

I know there will be times for everyone when happiness avoids us, when unhappiness invades our life, but as I get older I choose not to dwell on the negatives and eagerly embrace every positive, because sometimes all it takes to make a deposit into your happy tank is, qualcosa semplice – something simple.

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Literally 28 minutes after publishing this blog entry, Mario drove up our lane and gave me this large wedge of sheep’s milk cheese made by his wife earlier this week. I think the happy tank is full now.

A Life on Shuffle wishes you all happiness.

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Body Clock, Barbecue and Balcony

When people hear that you live in Italy, they assume you have year round sunshine, but it’s not really like the Spanish Costas, where pensioners pop over for tinsel and turkey and ex-pats are still topping up their tans in November. In middle Italy we get snow; albeit not very much unless you’re up in the mountains, and we get miserable, wet, drizzly days in the winter, but what a revelation December 2013 was. We had more warm sunny days than cold wet ones and this meant we could extend our outdoor activities without donning an overcoat.

Throughout the month we took the dogs for a run on the beach; deserted now the holiday makers have left, and we also spent more time generally outside. With the back garden almost finished I spent a very warm December day getting my orto ready for the New Year, I was actually in a T shirt, sweating as I worked the earth, planted some garlic and built a seed bed.

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On the 29th we spent a morning walking with friends on the beach at Lido la Morge, (that’s where I scratched the Buon Anno, message in the sand) and following the beach trip we popped into friends at Torino di Sangro for a planned barbecue. I’d told a friend in the UK about the barbecue and he said we must be mad, a barbecue in December. We expected it to be chilly, but instead what we got was glorious sunshine and a warm afternoon. So as my friend in the UK shivered and locked himself away from the rain, I was outside in my shirt sleeves looking at an amazing view as I munched on a burger and the best homemade coleslaw I’ve ever tasted.

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On the 2nd of January, with the New Year still in its infancy, we had our first get-together of 2014, we spent a delightful afternoon on a roof terrace belonging to friends in Bomba. The views over the countryside and the lake are breath-taking, made all the more enjoyable when they’re viewed whilst holding a glass of wine. We had a lovely buffet lunch followed by great conversation that drifted into the early evening.

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Now I’m not telling you this in an attempt to make you jealous… okay maybe just a little bit, but to point out how unusual it is when you’re not used to the difference in the climate. There’s this odd feeling that it can’t be real when you sit outside having lunch in the sunshine in a month when you’re used to wearing scarves and coats. It’s not like when you escape the winter for an intended holiday in the sun, when you’re living here and doing the mundane day to day things, there’s this odd feeling that your body clock has misfired. I’m not complaining mind, I’d much rather be sat in the sunshine with my sandwich than in a café in Stoke with condensation running down the inside of the windows. Maybe next year we’ll have a colder, wetter December to remind me of one in the UK, who knows. Mind you that said, if that’s so, you know I’ll be here complaining about it.