Have you ever thought you’ve had enough of the rat race in London? Ever wondered if the city is getting you down? Well stop it. We live in a great city and it ought to be celebrated.
Meet Sasha, a local blogger from Brixton, who runs a lovely little site called the Happiness Project London (HPL). Her online project is aimed at helping people appreciate London as an exciting, liberating, open-minded place. She combats those feelings many of us have about life in London – like feeling annoyed about cramped and expensive public transport or the fact that everyone is so busy all the time – by blogging about how wonderful life in London can be.
HPL features anything in the city that makes her happy – dance, music, food, wine, arts, sports. In many ways her celebratory remit is similar to that of Dulwich OnView and she’s a blogger, like us, so we ought to be friends with her!
In addition to signposting these gentle pointers towards happiness, Sasha has contemplated how fulfilling life in London can really be. Consequently she has brought together a list of six ‘rules’ about how to be “a little more spiritual and a little less selfless” and ultimately, happy.
‘Sasha’ is her writing name. Like many bloggers she chooses to remain anonymous.
DOV asked Sasha about her tips for staying happy in south London. She gave us some recommendations of things to do in our local area based around the 6 rules of the HPL. She says:
1. Connect with those around you
Take time to have conversations with those you love – at least one uninterrupted hour a week. I find the best conversations often come over dinner and a glass of wine – so try out a new pub or restaurant once a month and go with your friends or partner, or invite old friends you haven’t seen for a while.
Out of my wishlist of places to try and places I’ve been, I’d recommend Upstairs restaurant in Acre Lane, Clapham or the Saltoun Supper Club in Brixton; the Canton Arms in Stockwell; Green & Blue in East Dulwich; or one of the restaurants or bars in Dulwich village – I like Piaf. (DOV readers shouldn’t forget that there’s currently a promotion on with Piaf – see here for details).
2. Be Active
Find an activity that you love doing and which makes you feel great. Summer is great for exploring South London’s parks – if you prefer group activities you could do British Military Fitness or touch rugby in most London parks, Brockwell Lido is great for swimming and I like cycling to Dulwich Park. Hot Power Yoga in Clapham does great yoga classes and there are dance classes everywhere – from Creation Dance’s street dance to Clapham’s Manor Ballet.
If you have a garden or roof terrace, you could plant some interesting stuff and watch it grow. Rosemary and basil smell amazing and are really hardy, plus you get to use them in your food. If you don’t have a garden, plant a kitchen window-box with herbs instead. Or you could spend some time decorating your house, completing a project you’ve always wanted to do or teaching a friend or relation a new skill, like how to play guitar or chess.
There are tons of cheap adult classes in London. Centrally, there’s City Lit and the Central YMCA which do everything from jewellery-making to art history to psychology. The School of Life does great classes on happiness and life. Locally, there are cheap and interesting classes at Lambeth College and Clapham’s Zoom In does great photography classes. You could even learn to meditate for free at the Shambhala Centre in Clapham. It’s a pain to book things in your already busy schedule but it could lead to your developing a talent you never knew you had and to new opportunities and friendships.
5. Be curious
Try to look around you, look up, observe what’s going on – you’ll appreciate the everyday beauty and humour in London far more. Subscribe to a blog which posts photos of London life to inspire you and carry a camera so you can look for interesting things and capture what you see.
6. Give to others
Volunteering and charity are an important part of the HPL as they give you a sense of fulfilment and connection to your wider community. But it’s hard to fit this in to your busy lives. If you have time, volunteer with a charity – for example, Age Concern Lambeth takes on volunteers to befriend the elderly in your area. Or ask your friends to donate old furniture, clothes and toiletries and take them to your local charity shop or homeless shelter (call first to check if they need it).
Many charities do special fundraising activities – for example, this summer you can raise money for St Mungo’s by having a picnic and asking everyone to chip in a little money (their “Picnics for Pounds” scheme) – a perfect example of doing something small that makes a big difference. Look at www.wearewhatwedo.org for other examples.
And this is only scratching the surface of all the amazing things there are to do in south London. Don’t ever tell me you’re bored again! Thanks to Sasha for her tips about how to stay happy in south London.