Behold the most fearsome sight known to the copywriter:
Yes, the eight-month-old daughter.
I had to drop Hayley to work today, which spoiled my normal writing session.
And now I’m stuck with an over-ambitious baby who wants my keyboard.
So I wasn’t going to write to you today …
But my brain has decided it doesn’t want to take a day off.
This whole morning, I’ve kept interrupting what I’m doing to run to my office, and jot down ideas I’m getting for emails. My mind just keeps writing them in the background. (Plus a few Christian devotions I thought up and should probably publish, but that’s another story.)
So let me vent the pressure in my mind a little, and tell you the story you’ll probably like best:
It starts a few days ago, on Wednesday evening.
After a long drive to Busselton, three hours south of Perth, we pull in to an Airbnb.
And we are visiting an Airbnb, because I have been working overtime for months and I’m on the edge of burnout.
So I’ve decided to unwind with something fun:
A 48-hour getaway … in the nicest, best-located Airbnb I could find, right near the beach.
Normally, this place is booked for MONTHS in advance. But thanks to travel lockdowns, it was totally vacant. Score!
We pull into the driveway and get the kids out of the car.
And as we step into the home, I feel vindicated:
Light gushes in through giant windows. Trendy art lines the walls. A cozy couch beckons us to sit down and relax.
“Look, mama! Stairs!” calls out Eli, as he excitedly runs up and down between the floors.
“Da … da!” agrees Esther. She also tries to follow her big brother up the stairs.
“Oh, no you don’t,” says Hayley, scooping her up.
And for the next 48 hours, we enjoy a very refreshing mini-holiday.
(Highlight: when I decide to go for a bike ride with Eli on my bike to burn calories so I can eat pizza for dinner. I only mean to go for an hour … but I ‘accidentally’ end up in Dunsborough, 25 km away. Halfway through the return journey I feel myself getting VERY tired. So I stop at a service station … and proceed to down hundreds of calories, in the form of an Up’n’Go and a bag of sour worms. This defeats the whole purpose of the ride.)
But the coolest thing about this trip wasn’t anything we did.
Actually, it had to do with the layout of the house.
We both like it so much that when we get home, we decide to spend a day rearranging our house:
We spruce up our bedroom. We go all Marie Kondo on the junk in our living room. Heck, we even move the kids around — Eli goes into another room, and Esther moves out of our bedroom into the now-vacant room next to her brother.
It’s hard work.
But when we’re done, it’s like we’ve moved into a new place.
We put the kids to bed and collapse on the couch together, sipping decaf espressos.
Yet as I look at my newly-rearranged house, I realise something:
I’ve just figured out an amazing hack for being happy.
“Hang on just a second,” you interrupt. “You’re telling me you just wrote 600 words to tell me that I could be happy by moving my furniture? THAT’S your secret?”
While the new layout is cool, and it did make me feel happier …
Science tells us that ‘new’ stuff only makes us happy for a little while. It’s called “hedonic adaptation”.
So what was the key?
Well, it turns out moving Esther’s cot out of our bedroom had another benefit:
The kids were now sleeping together in one end of the house.
We had the rest of the house to ourselves to just hang out — WITHOUT worrying about waking a kid somewhere — and enjoy a quiet coffee together.
It was the first time in 8 months we’d been able to do that.
Best part: this won’t just be for two evenings at an Airbnb. We now get to do this every night.
And that, I realised, is the best way to optimise for happiness:
Arrange your life to spend more TIME on things that you already know will make you happy.
Give it a go. I think it’s the most effective way to make yourself happier not just for a week … but for the rest of the year (and beyond).
P.S. Obviously, my message implies that money won’t make you happy.
And, it won’t …
… but it might, say, pay for an Airbnb that gives you your own ‘happy-piphany’.
And a great way to earn more money in your biz is to hire me to do your copy.
Oh, I know. Sullying my noble email with capitalism. How awful of me.
But hey. Would you want to hire a copywriter who did anything less?